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Why Relationships Fail: 4 Tips to Make Love Last

Posted by POSITIVE START COUNSELING SERVICES, INC on January 14, 2015 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

“Happiness mainly comes from our own attitude, rather than from external factors.” ~Dalai Lama


If you get married today, there is a 60% chance that your relationship won’t last. Is finding true love really that hard or is there something else going on?


A research group from the Heriot-Watt University found that many people have a “warped sense of the perfect relationship” and “unrealistic expectations from their romantic partner.” They concluded that they got these unrealistic expectations from Hollywood love stories.


These movies have us longing for a Cinderella or Prince Charming who will sweep us off our feet and make us happier than we have ever been. But can we really expect our partners to make us happy? Is that even fair to them?


When I figured out this wasn’t the right approach to a relationship, I had already been in two failed ones. “Failed” may not be the right word, because I don’t regret them and I’m still friends with both of my exes, but these relationships were based on needs, from both partners.


After the second relationship, I was single for a long time, and that’s when I started working on myself.


When I started to see some changes in myself and in my life, I felt the desire to have a girlfriend again. I mentioned this to my mentor, and he said, “It’s not the girlfriend you want; it’s what you think she can give you.”


This was a real eye opener for me.


I realized that this desire was my ego telling me there was something missing in my life and that I needed to find someone else to fill this gap for me. I didn’t have a person in mind yet, but I was already being unfair to her by expecting so much of her. I was demanding love.


Demanding Love Vs. Sharing Love


If you expect your partner to make you happy, you are demanding love. If you were happy when you were single, you’re more likely to be happy in your relationship. And when you’re happy, you can focus on “sharing your love” instead of “demanding happiness.”


Do you see how this can make a world of difference in your relationship? When you go from “needing” love, affection, and support to fill a hole in yourself, to “sharing” love and happiness from a place of fullness, your relationship (and life!) will blossom into something truly amazing and lasting.


The Love Illusion


Not expecting anything from your partner doesn’t mean you can’t rely on them for support. It just means you don’t depend on them to ease the discomfort of being with yourself.


Even if it seems like they do that for a while, the absence of discomfort will be an illusion. It’s like taking aspirin. You may not feel the headache anymore, but what caused the headache is still there.


If you don’t like to spend time with yourself, you most likely don’t really love yourself. And if you don’t love yourself first, you cannot sincerely love someone else—or let yourself be loved by someone else.


What “True Love” Really Is


When two people get together and start working on themselves—when they aim to grow together instead of avoiding growth by depending too much on each other—they build a connection on a higher level. Couples who understand that this is the greatest gift they can give each other will be the happiest couples; they will experience true love!


4 Tips for a Loving, Lasting Relationship


1. Love yourself First


Many people don’t realize that their feelings toward other people are largely determined by their feelings about themselves. Learning to love yourself will not only benefit yourself, but also your partner.


A couple of ways to start loving yourself in action:


The mirror exercise: Stand in front of the mirror, look yourself in the eye, and say, “I love you. I really, really love you!” Don’t just say the words; try to feel them. It may take some practice, but if you do this two or three times a day for a couple of minutes, you will feel the results!


Practice self-acceptance. You are a magnificent human being. You may have some flaws, but that’s okay. Everybody has flaws and we all make mistakes. You can learn from them, accept them, and even be grateful for them, because they have helped form the person you are today.


2. Choose to be happy.


True happiness comes from within. Nothing or no one can “make” you happy. When you are a happy person because you choose to be, this will rub off on your partner, or attract more potential partners if you are single. Being happy feels good on the inside and looks good on the outside!


A few ways to choose happiness every day:


-Practice gratitude and optimism. People who see the world optimistically see opportunities and love everywhere they go. There’s truth in the saying “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.” Make a habit out of gratitude. When the sun shines on your face, when someone lets you cut in line, when someone smiles at you, say “thank you.” You don’t even have to say it out loud; thinking it will do just fine.


-Don’t let others determine how you feel. Try not to worry about what others say, think, or do—even if they talk badly about you. You can still respond to them, but don’t let it affect your level of happiness. The moment you get emotionally involved you have lost your inner peace.


-Accept your circumstances. You cannot control everything that happens in life. Sometimes, bad things happen. We cannot escape from this; we can only accept it. Choose to accept the circumstances you can’t change instead of causing yourself to suffer.


-Have fun! Find something you love to do and do it on a regular basis. For me, it’s snowboarding. Even though I’m physically exhausted after a day of snowboarding, mentally, I’m fully recharged.


-Meditate. Meditation was the foundation of my whole transformation process. I still meditate two hours a day. But if you are just starting out, fifteen minutes will do. Meditation will help you with all the points above; it will give you focus, mental clarity, and inner peace. It takes some practice, but if you put in the effort, the results will astound you.


3. Fall in love when you are ready, not when you are lonely.


Don’t compromise or get into a relationship for the wrong reasons. Being alone isn’t the same as being lonely. When you love yourself, you don’t mind being alone sometimes because you are spending time with your best friend. Ironically, being in a bad relationship can make you feel like the loneliest person in the world.


4. Do not lose yourself in a relationship.


Make time for yourself, pursue your own goals, and do things without your partner. Maintain a healthy balance between your personal time and your time together.


Putting yourself first in a relationship might seem strange at first, but it makes perfect sense. If you go into a relationship expecting your partner to make you happy, your partner might expect the same from you. Do you really want to be responsible for your partner’s happiness? That’s quite a responsibility to take on.


Wouldn’t it be much better if you and your partner entered a relationship and committed to becoming the best people you both can be while sharing your love with each other? No needs, no expectations, no obligations. Do you see how in a relationship like that, love has the freedom to grow into something truly amazing?

The Power of Apologizing: Why Saying ???Sorry??? Is So Important

Posted by POSITIVE START COUNSELING SERVICES, INC on January 14, 2015 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)

The Power of Apologizing: Why Saying “Sorry” Is So Important


By Kelsey Frizzell


“Sincere apologies are for those that make them, not for those to whom they are made.” ~Greg LeMond


When I was growing up, every time I took my sister’s toy or called my brother names, my mother would grab me by the wrist and demanded that I offer an apology. What’s more, if the apology didn’t sound meaningful enough to her, I had to repeat it until my tone was genuine. An apology was the basic reaction to any mistake.


Now that I’m older, I see apologizing as more than just a household rule. My younger self didn’t understand the complexities of human pride and self-righteousness, but my older self does.


Now, I see family members refusing to talk to each other for years after an argument just because neither side wants to be the first to let go of their pride and “break down and apologize.” But who decided apologizing was a sign of weakness?


I think we’ve reached a day and age where showing emotional vulnerability can be viewed as a positive rather than a negative quality.


People are becoming more aware of ideas like empathy and sensitivity, and everywhere we are being encouraged to talk about our feelings, to seek help, and to connect with others. Gone are the days of keeping everything bottled up inside to suffer alone.


As we move forward in this time of self-knowledge and self-discovery, it’s vital to acquire the ability to recognize our own mistakes. Nobody is perfect, and we all will do something to hurt another person at some point in our lives. The difference, however, lies acknowledging that we have done something wrong.


This was hard for me to grasp, because I was taught that an apology should be an automatic response.


It took me a long time to realize what it meant to say “I’m sorry” from the heart. Apologizing just for the sake of apologizing is meaningless. We cannot genuinely apologize if we can’t admit to ourselves that we made a mistake.


This is where humility comes in. Can we look at ourselves in the mirror and say that it was at least partly our fault? Can we take that responsibility?


Placing the blame on someone else is easy. Making excuses and skirting the subject is easy. Assuming the full weight of blame on our own shoulders, however, is very hard.


I learned this the hard way with a childhood friend of mine. As we grew older, we started becoming more competitive in the things we did together, and eventually the playful competition went a little too far.


It became a game of silently trying to prove who was better, and we ended up hurting each other over our pride.


We refused to apologize or even address what was going on because neither wanted to be the one to “give in.”


The tension kept growing, breaking apart our friendship. I wish I could go back now, because if I had taken responsibility for the mistakes I made, we probably could have resolved it easily and saved our friendship.


Instead, I let my pride take priority over my relationships with the people around me.


Learning to apologize is the first and most important step in the healing process. Not only does it show the recipient that you acknowledge their right to feel hurt, but it opens the way to forgiveness.


It seems so silly, really. I mean, it’s only two tiny words. How can something so small be so powerful?


Well, there have been various scientific studies on the power of apologizing, which have demonstrated that when the victim receives an apology from his offender, he develops empathy toward that person, which later develops more quickly into forgiveness.


This is due to the fact that when we receive an apology, we feel that our offender recognizes our pain and is willing to help us heal.


Timing is an important aspect to keep in mind, as well, because sometimes the other person might not be ready to accept your apology. Sometimes we need to allow time to heal the wounds a little bit before we come forward to say “I’m sorry.”


An apology cannot undo what has been done, but it can help ease the pain and tension of the aftermath. It gives hope for rebuilding, and puts value on the relationship rather than the individual’s pride.


Sometimes people don’t even realize the hurt they are creating around them by failing to take responsibility for their actions. Maybe it’s you, maybe it’s someone you know, but everyone knows someone who has suffered from this at some time.


Now is the time to make a change.


Often times those two simple words are worth more than a lifetime of excuses and explanations.


Choose the path of humility. Choose the path of healing. Choose love above pride. Choose to apologize.

12 Simple Tips For Relationship Bliss

Posted by POSITIVE START COUNSELING SERVICES, INC on January 9, 2015 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Fairy-tale love is hard to find—here are some tips for keeping your relationship healthy and happy.

One of the most common questions we hear is, "How do we make our relationship work?" The answers are complicated, varied, and, after a while, can start to sound like muddled platitudes. But these commonplace sayings get repeated because they work. With this in mind, we pulled together 12 cliches that, in fact, reveal simple, tried-and-true advice for having a healthy, happy relationship. Read on and let us know what you think:


1. Mind your manners. "Please," "thank you" and "you're welcome," can go a long way in helping your partner remember that you respect and love him and don't take him for granted. Relationship Rehab: 12 Steps To Becoming A Happier Couple In 2012


2. Variety is the spice of life. Studies have shown that dullness can lead to dissatisfaction with a relationship. Trying something new can be as simple as visiting an unfamiliar restaurant or as grand as a backpacking trip through Sri Lanka. Discoveries you make together will keep you feeling close.


3. The couple that plays together, stays together. Find a sport or hobby that you both love (no, watching TV does not count) and make that a priority in your relationship. Camping, biking, building model trains... whatever it is, find something you enjoy doing together.


4. Fight right. In order to have productive arguments, keep these rules in mind. Don't call your spouse names. When things get really tough, take a break from the argument. Let the other person finish his/her sentences. Don't initiate a discussion when you're angry. 5 Things That (Unexpectedly) Turn Men Off


5. I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine. No one likes demands (unless you're in a BDSM role play), but everyone can appreciate a compromise. If you want your lover to do something and you're not sure he'll be agreeable, the quickest way to avoid a confrontation is to sweeten the deal. For example: "Sure, I'll watch Monday Night Football if you take me to see the next movie of my choice."

6. Two heads are better than one. Being in a relationship basically means you've made a merger; you've not only joined assets but inherited the other's problems as well. Rather than looking at his problems as merely his own, tackle them together. For example, if he's gaining weight, rather than pushing him to diet on his own, enroll in an exercise program together.


7. Distance makes the heart grow fonder. Maintain your own friendships and occasionally have a night out without your significant other. Doing things without your s.o. not only makes you miss him or her, it also keeps you sane. And, in case the relationship doesn't work out, you'll still have your friends.


8. Sound it out. It other words: communicate! Talking out the tough subjects—money, religion, fidelity, raising kids—will not be the most fun you've had, but it'll be valuable. The Top 10 Traits That Attract A Man To A Woman


9. Laughter is the best medicine. Learn to laugh at yourself and at silly mistakes. If he throws your $300 cashmere sweater in the dryer, laughing it off is, in the long run, better than getting angry. It's is just a $300 cashmere sweater, not the end of the world.


10. Keep your eyes on the prize. Yes, he forgot your co-worker's name for the tenth time, but it probably doesn't mean he doesn't care about you. If you keep your perspective fixed on the goal—to be in a happy, functioning partnership—you're less likely to get tangled up in every minor annoyance. Remember, you both want the same thing.


11. Quitters never win. Find a ritual and keep it alive, no matter what. Whether it's always kissing each other good night, renewing wedding vows every year, sleeping in as late as you want once a month or committing to having sex once a week, pick something that makes you both feel good and stick to it, even when you're tempted to skip. What A Male Orgasm Feels Like


12. When the going gets tough, the tough get going... to therapy. Studies show that couples who seek counseling during rocky periods are more successful in resolving their issues than those who don't. Whether its from a religious figure, counselor or mental health professional, getting an expert to help sort out strife is as wise as forgoing self-installation and hiring a plumber to put in a new sink.

6 Ways You're Sabotaging Your Love Life Are you your relationships??? own worst enemy?

Posted by POSITIVE START COUNSELING SERVICES, INC on January 9, 2015 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)


6 Ways You're Sabotaging Your Love Life

Are you your relationships’ own worst enemy?

Who doesn’t want a blissed-out relationship based on the kind of love musicians write songs about? That might be the dream, but you may actually be standing in your own way of achieving it. The good news is that you can ID the sneaky things you do that might sabotage your happiness without realizing it, then change them to boost your chances of finding forever love. We talked to Jane Greer, Ph.D., New York-based relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship, for some tips on how to keep these relationship-wreckers from affecting your love life.


1. Being Too Available

Of course you’re going to be tempted to drop everything when you’re hanging out with your girls and the guy you’re seeing invites you out for a last-minute drink. But that temptation doesn’t mean you should give in. Resist, girl! “Breaking plans to become available to see a guy at the last minute is putting things completely on his terms,” says Greer. “Especially if you routinely meet only at the times that are good for him.” While compromise is key for any relationship, always being at his beck and call sends the message that he’s running the show.


2. Falling into a Rut

“It’s easy to get stuck in your comfort zone without realizing it in a way that makes it hard for you to meet people," says Greer. "For example, maybe you always hang out with your sister and her husband or you give up free nights to babysit their kids." While it’s fantastic to lend a helping hand, you have to shake things up if you want to bump into someone exciting. “Getting caught up in a single routine means you lose out on single time for yourself and miss opportunities to get out and meet a potential partner,” says Greer. Switch things up as much as you can. A packed schedule full of different hobbies and parties is basically sending the universe an “I’m ready to meet someone now!” message.


3. Going Overboard on Ex Talk

No matter how annoying your ex is, the chances that a new guy wants to hear a diatribe about just why he sucks are low. You know you should avoid that kind of talk on the first few dates, but once you become more comfortable and you both start talking about whatever skeletons you have in the relationship closet, you might bash your old guy a little too freely. “Continually talking about your ex when you're with somebody new or staying involved in a negative, angry way with your ex is an easy way to sabotage your love life,” says Greer. Not only does it potentially freak a new guy out, but it means your romantic energy is still tangled up in the past. “You need to have a clear path for meeting someone new," says Greer. "It’s about moving on and letting go."


4. Rushing the Relationship

Few things are better than that heady feeling when you realize a relationship might be getting really serious. There’s nothing wrong with engagement rings and your (obviously adorable) future babies dancing before your eyes, but you should be absolutely sure you two are on the same page before you really start putting the pressure on your S.O. There’s nothing wrong with bringing up what you're looking for down the road—but forcing your guy to commit to having four kids before you've been dating for four months can be counterproductive.


5. Always Being On Call

How insanely annoying is it when a guy is like, “Let’s hang out Friday night” but keeps the actual plans vague? You could reach out to him and be like, “Dude, tell me what we’re doing!” but that might feel too forward for you. The result is that at least once in your life, you’ve probably spent a night glued to your phone, acting like a doctor who’s attached to her pager at all times. Wrong move. “Waiting around for him to call can easily lead to you staying home because you haven't heard from him,” says Greer. Your best move is to make other plans and go on living your life. If he never gets in touch, whatever—you were having fun anyway! And if he does, he’ll learn that you’re in demand and he needs to actively make plans if he wants a chance to see you.


6. Going After the Unavailable Dude

This one’s a doozy. Attractive yet unavailable guys are everywhere, from your hot boss whose wife you see at company events to your drool-worthy guy friend who just got a girlfriend. “Maybe he’s married or recently separated or even unemotionally available in the sense that he needs time to work through a previous relationship,” says Greer. No matter the case, she advises steering clear because it’s pretty hard to start a good relationship on such a shaky beginning—and don't you deserve better than that? Instead, keep your eyes peeled for a guy who is available in all the right ways (as in: no ex drama, no current partner, and emotionally open to a relationship).

10 Tips for Surviving the Holidays

Posted by POSITIVE START COUNSELING SERVICES, INC on December 5, 2014 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Published on December 6, 2012 by Linda Walter, LCSW in Life Without Anxiety

The holiday season can bring mixed emotions for many. For some, it’s their favorite time of year. For others, it brings feelings of sadness and loss. Seeing old friends and family members may be exciting or may bring up memories of disappointments.


Did you ever get together with your family and notice you’ve all of a sudden become that 13 year old teenager again who’s arguing with your parents or siblings? Or perhaps you find yourself looking at a sibling and thinking for the first time in 20 years, “mom always loved her better”. Sometimes, when we see family members we revert to old childhood patterns which may hurt us and remind us of difficult times. Even though we think we’ve worked through these patterns, they just seem to crop right back up.


Feeling depressed or anxious is not unusual during the holiday season. Upcoming dinners, parties, family or friend gatherings may cause a great deal of stress. These feelings may be even worse for those who have experienced divorce, lost a love one, are living far from family and friends, etc.



Here are some tips to “Beat the Holiday Blues”:


#1 Keep your regular routine.


A change in routine can lead to additional stress. Try to exercise at your usual time, go to meetings that you normally go to, and stick to as normal a diet as you possibly can.


#2 Think Moderation.


While it may be easy to drink and eat too much at parties and special dinners, we should try not to overindulge with food and/or alcohol. Remember, eating and drinking may feel like they temporarily “ease the pain” of the holidays blues, but they can also lead to feelings of guilt.


#3 Be realistic, try not to expect the “ideal” holiday.


So many of us have an idealized version of what the holidays should be like and are very disappointed when they don’t live up to those expectations. Try to be realistic, remember, nobody has a perfect holiday or perfect family.


#4 Stay connected.


Make sure to leave time to spend with friends and/or family who value you. And if they don’t live close by, call them for a “reality check”, for some “grounding”. Remember to ask for support if you need it.


#5 Throw guilt out the window.


Try not to put unreasonable pressure on yourself to be happy, to rejoice, or even to enjoy the holidays. Likewise, try not to over-analyze your interactions with others. Give yourself a break this holiday season.


#6 Don’t be alone, if you don’t want to.


If you anticipate spending the holidays alone, try to volunteer somewhere, in a soup kitchen, with children in group homes, or the elderly in various facilities. People will so appreciate you, you may feel better about yourself, but most of all, you’ll have company.


#7 Focus on today, not yesterday.


There’s something about being with family and old friends that makes us become who we were and not who we are. When you find yourself reverting to old childhood patterns when with family members, try to walk away for a minute and remember who you are now. Also remember that it’s not necessary to play the same role as you did when you were younger, even if others are encouraging you to do so by their behaviors. If there is someone at the get-together who knows what you are like today, make sure to reach out to them and draw them into the interactions. That will help to ground you.


#8 Just say no.


It’s OK to say no when you’re asked to do more than you can. It’s fine to say no to some invitations and fine to say no to those asking for favors. Remember, this is your holiday too!


#9 Ask for help.


Holidays are often a time people attempt to take on too much, do too much on their own. It’s OK to ask for help from family and friends. Whether for decorating, shopping, cooking, or a shoulder to lean on, ASK.


#10 Be good to yourself.


If you’re feeling blue, pamper yourself, do what feels good, what you want to do. Try to take a walk, spend time alone if that’s what you want. Remember, this is your holiday too and you can be there for yourself just like you try to be for everyone else.



Remember, the holidays only come once a year and only last for a few weeks. If you follow these 10 tips, you might just find this year to be more joyful and less stressful.


Have a peaceful holiday season!

Life After Divorce: 3 Survival Skills

Posted by POSITIVE START COUNSELING SERVICES, INC on October 31, 2014 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Life After Divorce: 3 Survival Skills

1. Seek Out a Support Network

Time heals.  No single strategy will ease the pain and loss that comes with divorce.  The best way to deal with the effects of divorce is to depend on a support network.  Reach out to friends.  Do not be afraid to join a support group for divorced individuals.  Support is not just for women, men need to find support too.  


2. Redefine Yourself

Sometimes being divorced has a harsh reality of the fact that you are no longer a couple.  Try to look at this time as an opportunity of self-exploration.  Do not be afraid to get involved with new hobbies, activities, and interests.  Staying busy often helps in a constructive way.  


3. Minimize the Impact on Kids

Try to minimize the pain children feel.  At all times possible try to keep things amicable.  

In younger children, there may be regressive behavior like bed-wetting; in older children and teenagers, low self-esteem and risky behavior may surface.  Avoid  pulling children into any conflict with an ex-spouse as children will often feel that they have to "take sides."

If you are struggling, do not hesitate to contact a mental health provider that can help you sort through your feelings and help with adapting to a new life.  

Peer Relationships

Posted by POSITIVE START COUNSELING SERVICES, INC on October 31, 2014 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Peer relationships are vital to the mental and social well-being of every individual. Building friendships is a part of every individual's life and is helpful in the enrichment of one's living. Close friends are a refuge from the negatives in life. They lend a helping hand in times of trouble, a shoulder to lean on and bring smiles to brighten up life. Being a social animal, a human being seeks friends at all point of time in life. The human instinct of living in groups for mental and social security manifests itself in his tendency to make friends. Building, improving and maintaining healthy relationships with peers, results in the healthy development of an individual.


Peer relationships help enhance one's interpersonal skills and leadership qualities in childhood, help one fight his or her problems and express oneself in adolescence and help overcome solitude in later life. Relationships with peers in office help in the enrichment of one's professional life. Good relations with peers at work enhance the positive atmosphere at work, thus achieving productivity. Improving peer relations fosters the team spirit of the people in an organization, helps in effective distribution of work, making them focused on achieving their company goals. Thus relations with peers play a part in every walk of one's life.


Tips on Improving Peer Relations

Nurture social skills such as understanding other people and listening to them and learn to express your thoughts and emotions in acceptable ways. Nurturing of social skills includes the development of one's interpersonal intelligence, which helps in communicating with the people around. Since the early years of social exposure, one needs to be trained to express oneself while understanding the perspectives of others. Every person needs to be taught to listen, understand and respect the feelings of others.


Empathy forms an important part of peer relations. Feeling for others helps in improving these relations. It is important to know that every human being has his/her own way of looking at things and reacting to them. Trying to accept people as they are and taking efforts to adjust with them defines empathy. Due consideration to one's sentiments and due regard for one's views on life helps in improving peer relations.


Conflicts can become a part of communication. An effective resolution of conflicts and an ability to deal with debates is an important aspect of improving peer relationships. Disagreements are a part of conversations. It is during such times that one's social abilities come into play. One needs to think prudently about the conflict, contemplate both sides of the issue and devise ways to resolve the conflict. Minor disagreements can spoil relationships and in avoiding this, lie the interpersonal skills of an individual.


Avoiding behavior that can annoy your peers, results in improved relations with them. When you are with your peers, avoid saying or acting in a manner that can irritate them. Taking a step towards them can lead in them taking two steps to adjust with you. But someone has to initiate. It is obvious that no two people can think alike. They are bound to have different opinions on certain issues and varying ways of looking at life. But relationships are about respecting the other person's identity while preserving your own. Avoiding actions that annoy your peers is a step forward towards improving your relationship.


The interpersonal skills, which apply to personal relationships, can be applied effectively to professional relationships as well. Social skills that play a role in friendships hold true in case of peer relations at work too. Listening skills, empathy and adaptability are key factors in improving relations with peers. Improving peer relationships is sure to positively impact every sphere of life.

Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/tips-on-improving-peer-relationships.html

Shorter days can lead to suffering from seasonal affective disorder. Take steps to control the symptoms during winter.

Posted by POSITIVE START COUNSELING SERVICES, INC on October 16, 2014 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Shorter days can lead to suffering from seasonal affective disorder. Take steps to control the symptoms during winter.


Sniffles and flu are not the only afflictions of winter. Many people find that the dark and cold days can impact their mood. In fact, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) affects approximately 10 million Americans, and another 10 to 20 percent of the public may have mild SAD, according to Psychology Today.


Coupled with busy lives, the winter blues can put extra strain on one's relationships and psyche. Luckily there are simple lifestyle changes you can make to help lead a happier, less stressful life during winter.


Healthy Habits


Feeling blue can be compounded by unhealthy habits. Limit alcohol and get plenty of rest to feel your best. Eat foods beneficial to brain health, such as those that contain omega 3 fatty acids.


Be sure to exercise daily, as physical activity can boost serotonin and dopamine levels in your brain. While the days may be shorter, try to take advantage of the sunlight each day with a brisk walk at lunch -- remember to bundle up though, a winter cold is never fun!


Get Cozy


One of the causes of winter blues is light deprivation. If you have a fireplace, counteract the shorter days by adding a fire to your daily routine.


Dinner, reading, relaxing, watching TV, and even working can seem more enjoyable by adding the light and warmth of a fire, say the statistics. Indeed, 89 percent of people say having a fire is extremely important, important or somewhat important to their wintertime quality of life, according to a recent survey jointly conducted by the American Institute of Stress (AIS) and Duraflame, which creates fire-related products, including fire logs and fire starters.


A fire can offer stress relief, creating an opportunity to gather friends and family in a relaxing ambiance. Whether you're alone or with a group, consider making it a hassle-free experience by using a manufactured fire log, which produces robust, bright flames and burns significantly cleaner and more efficiently than a typical wood fire.


Take a Breather


Consider setting aside more time each day to mentally and physically recuperate. Nearly 60 percent of people take an hour a day or less to wind down and relax, according to the AIS and Duraflame survey, and more probably should.


Try this quick stress relief exercise, "The Quieting Reflex," recommended by Dr. Daniel L. Kirsch, president of AIS:


Smile inwardly with your eyes and mouth, relaxing your facial muscles. Think of something heartwarming or amusing while you do this. This starts to counter stress immediately.

Next think of the expression: "Alert Mind, Calm Body" to counter negative thoughts.

Slowly take a deep breath while visualizing it as warm air coming in from pores, or holes opening up in the bottom of your feet and slowly moving up into your lungs.

While you exhale, visualize a wave of warmth and relaxation slowly flowing through your body exiting through your feet, like the spreading warmth you feel when sitting by the fireplace.

You can't control the seasons, but by being proactive, you can get back to enjoying your winters.

50+ Tips for Self-Care from 35 Mental Health Experts

Posted by POSITIVE START COUNSELING SERVICES, INC on October 8, 2014 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

50+ Tips for Self-Care from 35 Mental Health Experts

Published October 7, 2014 | By Jodie

It’s World Mental Health Day on October 10.

Self-care practices are essential for physical, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. The practices shared here by 30 mental health experts can help to reduce anxiety, depression, stress and many other concerns. They are also great for developing coping strategies, boosting your mood and creating a general sense of health and well-being.


Once you’ve got some tips from below, head on over to Mental Health Begins With Me and make a mental health promise to yourself!


50+ Tips for Self-Care from 35 Mental Health Experts


1. When I feel stressed and overwhelmed, my mantra is “something’s gotta give”…meaning, I can’t do everything and I can’t do it perfectly. In line with this philosophy I try to find a few small ways to make my day a little easier. Sometimes I decide to turn my phone off for the rest of the day or I order take-away because the thought of cooking is too much. Other times, I’ll make a deal with myself that in my lunch break, I need to step away from my computer and go for a 15 minute walk. Mindfulness is another big self-care technique for me. By being mindful I give myself permission to stay in the here and now. A place where to do lists, emails, Facebook, phones and worries about the past and future don’t exist (sounds like Utopia doesn’t it?). It’s challenging to stay present when you feel pulled in a thousand directions, but tuning into the here-and-now even just 2-3 times a day for a few minutes at a time can make all the difference. For 5 tips on simple ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life visit my blog. Dr Jacqueline Baulch, Clinical Psychologist, Melbourne, Australia.


2. I do things that make me feel nurtured like having a massage, a pedicure, Reiki treatment or cuddle up on the sofa with a soft blanket and watch a favorite movie. Laura J. Reagan, LCSW-C in Maryland.


3. My gym has a steam room and I do legs up the wall pose, which lowers stress in the body and mind. It’s meditative, I sweat out a lot of crud probably, and it’s a bit silly looking maybe. Win-win-win. Allison Rimland, LPC, Certified Emotionally Focused Therapist, Denver, Colorado.


4. I practise kundalini yoga, shakti dance, eat a great diet, have a conscious social life, meditate and enjoy my friends and family. Before my halo slips, I also love chocolate…. Self-care does take practice and commitment (will) along with forgiveness if I slip up (love). Self-care is a must as a practitioner – it helps my resilience and ultimately, that of my clients. Bernadette Devine, MA Psychosynthesis Psychotherapy, London, England.


5. As a busy Central Victorian, Bendigo based family counsellor and clinical social worker, I always find time for weekend brunch with friends and family. My all time favorite brunch venue is The Bendigo Art Gallery coffee shop. Enjoying fantastic food, coffee, art works and show stopping exhibitions is my kind of stress busting activity. Lisa Pola, BSW, MAFT, Family Counsellor, Bendigo, Australia.


6. I love looking up at the sky, whether it’s to catch a beautiful sunset, notice the cloud formations, stare at the bright moon, or gaze at the stars. I also love to take mindful walks that involve noticing the smell of the flowers, feeling the sun shining on my skin, feeling the breeze, and observing the plants, trees, and houses around me. Marni Goldberg, MFT, LPCC, San Diego.


7. For my self-care, I practice creative writing, I hike up 14,000ft mountains, dance around the house with my daughter, have pizza nights with friends and laugh hysterically at old Friends reruns. Robyn Mourning, MS, MFTC, Child & Family Therapist/Parent Coach, Westminster, CO.


8. I do Zumba twice a week and personal training three times a week, these are done with two amazing woman, who love life. I also surround myself with wonderfully, supportive friends. Cait Wotherspoon, Counsellor and Psychotherapist, Penrith, Australia.


9. I own horses and dogs. The time spent with my animals is very soothing and therapeutic for me. These non-verbal relationships speak volumes to my sanity. At work as a supervisor to other therapists, as well as in full time practice myself, I seek mental health services in an effort to be proactive in my own self-care and encourage my supervises and colleagues to do the same. “A brain surgeon cannot work on their own brain.” Mindy J Nicholson, Licensed Clinical Addiction and Marriage and Family Therapist, Salina, KS.


10. I do things for self-care that help me to unwind and clear my mind, like exercise and puzzles. When working with clients, I practise awareness around my own baggage – this means looking at things that I might take for granted such as preferences, beliefs and expectations. I spend some time reflecting after every session to see how it has affected me – I check in with my body, emotions and thoughts. Sally Hunt, Clinical Psychologist, Centre for Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use, NDARC, University of New South Wales.


11. I go to the gym to enjoy the steam room, sauna, and hot tub – sometimes I don’t even workout – talk about relaxation! Also, I schedule regular girlfriend time – when we get together we eat the best food, laugh, cry, and talk until we are exhausted. Crystal Jones, Owner/ therapist at Life Source Counseling, PLLC, Fredericksburg, VA.


12. I like to paint without thinking about what I am doing. Then I like to explore the meaning. For instance I painted something that included pillars, several words came to mind and it led me to thinking about being successful in everything that I do. I also use journaling for self-care. Today I journaled about “how to create my life vision” which included making a list of what mattered the most. Annmarie Wilson M.S LPC – IT, Army spouse, advocate for suicide prevention and mentor, Wisconsin.


13. For me self care is about taking care of ‘the basics’, that is, being sure to get good nutrition, adequate sleep, drinking water throughout the day and making time for exercise, fun and time in nature (maybe a walk along the beach or a bush track). I use humour and love watching funny movies. Recently, I have been using Kirsten Neff’s self-compassion meditations both personally and with clients. I also use and recommend other Mindfulness techniques on apps like Buddhify, Mindfulness Daily , Benjamin Bonnettis guided meditations and anything by John Kabat-Zinn. During the work day, self-care is about scheduling clients wisely and making sure to have water/tea/coffee/meal breaks and even to remember to stand and stretch and get out in the fresh air between sessions. Michele Hill, Psychologist, Sunshine Coast, Australia.


14. For me it’s all about nature as a way of looking after myself: I seek out tranquil green places, I have a swing at the end of my garden which looks out over bushland, I horse ride in the Blue Mountains, I kayak down peaceful rivers, I go on long walks and find joy in watching my dogs run. Connecting, sharing and laughing with my partner, children and friends are also times I cherish and prioritise. These experiences nurture and ground me, so I am available to support, nurture and ‘be there’ with my clients. Sara Beresford Terry, Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, Counsellor & Clinical Supervisor, Menai, Sydney, Australia.


15. Connecting with, and appreciating nature is a crucial part of my self-care routine. I breathe in moments of fresh air, stop to notice the beauty in nature, go for walks and enjoy outdoor activities. Sarah Leitschuh, MA, LMFT, Burnsville, MN.


16. I meditate and practise yoga every day to keep my stress level down and my mind clear. Elizabeth Owens, LPC-Intern, supervised by R. Keith Franklin, LPC-S, San Antonio, Texas.


17. As an introvert, both my practice and I thrive when I am balanced – this includes carving out daily time to myself. From season to season this changes and can include any of the following: making art, creating a sandtray, journaling, yoga nidra, asana practice, walking to the Potomac River, connecting with nature, or cooking. When I am at work, I drink a glass of water with every client – this flushes my system and cleanses as I go. I smudge and use the fire place to clear and energize the space. If I have a client cancellation, I can often be found rocking out to everything from Jay Z to Nina Simone to Adele. My own therapy, supervision and consultation keep me grounded and clear. Amy Tatsumi, MA, LPC, ATR-BC, Psychotherapist, Counselor, Art Therapist, & Daring Way™ Certified Facilitator-Consultant, Washington, DC.


18. I love to have get-togethers with other therapists/friends to decompress over a good meal, maybe with some wine. You could call it “Healing for Wounded Healers”. I hope to expand the idea one day for the mental health community in my area. Leana Sykes, M.Ed, LPC, Oaklyn, NJ.


19. My best self-care tool is my dog Wilbur. In between clients I go out into a beautifully landscaped garden retreat and play with my dog and listen to the tinkle of the water in the fountain. Fresh air, nature and being with the unconditional acceptance of a pet is incredibly restorative. Marg Ryan, Psychotherapist, BArts. MBusPsych. ClinDipSomPsych, Melbourne, Australia


20. As therapists, we often give so much to our clients that we forget or don’t prioritise our own well-being. Therefore, I’ve adopted the principle of treating myself as my most important client. This may sound a tad narcissistic but when looked at from the perspective of “therapist heal thy self”, it makes sense. I suggest to clients practices such as: having boundaries, a supportive routine, to eat well, exercise regularly, make time for supportive relationships, feed your spirit, time for laughter, play and creativity. It would be inauthentic if I wasn’t living from this place for myself. Marcia Watts, Counsellor & Psychotherapist, M.Couns, B.Soc. Sci, Dip Min, Brisbane, Australia.


21. I go to the beach and practice mindfulness; I focus on the sun’s warmth, listen to the ocean, watch the waves, and breathe in the salty air. I don’t bring a phone or a book so that I can fully focus on my environment. I also like to read humorous books. One of my favorite books is Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Sarah Fuller, M.S. Florida Registered Mental Health Counseling Intern, Safety Habor, Florida.


22. For self-care I enjoy walking or yoga. But what really relaxes me is putting on a movie and counting change. I don’t know why, doesn’t matter how much change it is, but just the motion of counting always relaxes me. Kathryn Busch L.M.F.T., Bluepoint, NY.


23. As a busy sex addiction therapist, author and speaker, I take every 5th week off from my practice in order to focus on other interests such as dance, hiking, writing and hanging out with family and friends. Though I am passionate about the work I do, taking scheduled and intentional breaks away from my practice fills my cup and allows for more energy and balance as a therapist and a woman in the world. It also models great self-care for my clients! Mari A. Lee, LMFT, CSAT-S Glendora, California


24. Gardening has been an enormous help in keeping me balanced and centered. I enjoy the planning and research that goes into finding the right plant and soil for the conditions. Nurturing the plant and watching it grow and change is so rewarding. I think the act of doing hard work to help a living thing grow and thrive and being able to witness the results provides a sense of connection and accomplishment. Other notable self-care practices include spending time with my family, especially my young nieces and nephews, which allows me to give and receive unconditional love; going to the beach is calming and gets me connected to nature; journaling gives me a chance to process what’s going on in my life without filtering. Another fun one is playing my favorite music a little too loud and singing and / or dancing along. Ilianna Luna, LMFT, Plantation, Florida


25. I get a massage every other week, acupuncture & chiropractic and a facial where I get my brows and lashes tinted so I feel and look my best. Plus I let go of stress and all that comes my way that might want to manifest as some form of illness in my body. If I have extra time for fun I do art. I also use Doterra essential oils every day to balance my emotions and manage my stress. Debra Thompson, MA, LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC, Santa Fe, NM


26. I love doing martial arts as self-care. As a therapist, I spend a lot of time hearing stories of injustice, abuse and neglect. While sitting many hours listening to these stories, my nervous system can react in a fight response, or maybe it is my inner warrior! So, I love to get out some of the energy that gets stuck in my body. It is a great way to reset my nervous system and nurture my inner warrior. Andrea Szasz, Psychotherapist. Supervisor. Group Facilitator. Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator, CMCAPA, PACFA, EMDRAA, Mosman and Bondi, Sydney, Australia.


27. These are some of the things I do for self-care: when I drive I turn up the music and sing along, I dance and don’t care who is watching, I walk some evenings with my mother and we just talk, no pressure, no therapy, sometimes just talk about silly things. Anette J. Badchkam, Psychotherapist, LCSW, CAP, Royal Palm Beach, Florida.


28. For self-care, I have a massage once a month, I take an annual weekend getaway with my sister or to visit with a friend, I attend two consultation groups monthly – one with a niche of the gifted community and the other more general – which while a place for case support it’s also great for emotional support as well. In the 2nd one we started a book club – we had a great first meeting sitting along the Mississippi River with delicious food and wine, discussing the book and life in general. Megan Bearce, LMFT, Wayzata, MN.


29. I like to walk to and from work as it helps me take in the fresh air before and after a long day of being in an office. Doing this also allows me to get some exercise which I don’t get a lot of from sitting in a chair all day. Liz Morrison, LCSW, NYC.


30. Foot spas have become very popular here in Boca Raton, Florida – I love my foot massages! It’s dark and quiet with Buddhist music chanting in the background and I get to zone out. I will go weekly for an hour foot massage for only $35 an hour. It includes a back and neck massage too. I also love spinning! My spin class is in the dark, with loud pumping music and no phones! I get to disconnect and “fly” on my spin bike for 45 minutes. I do this 3 times a week. Jessica Marchena, LMHC, Boca Raton, Florida.


31. I usually take a weekend getaway, socialize with friends, go dancing and I love to sit on my patio drinking tea! Michelle Fyfe, LMHC, CAP, Royal Palm Beach Florida.


32. Along with the usual self-care, I like to read good horror stories or watch quality horror movies (with more psychological & existential leanings than shock & gore, of course) to help me stay in touch with my own Shadow. It’s also nice that these stories are fiction, as opposed to the real horror that our clients have lived through & are processing on their way towards healing. I’m particularly fond of authors (e.g., Clive Barker) who show the beauty & sadness in their monsters. Our Shadows are vitally important to our wholeness! Renee Beck, Oakland Dreamwork & Transpersonal Therapy.


33. In my personal life, I recently took up a pottery class that I have wanted to join for a few years. So far throwing on the wheel is really relaxing even though I’m just learning! In my professional life, I practice self-care by keeping healthy boundaries around start and finish times of counselling sessions and allow myself 10 minutes in between. I take this time to get grounded. Sometimes I do a short meditation, yoga, aromatherapy or watch a lit candle mindfully. This way I don’t feel rushed and I’m ready to be present with my next client. Natalie Wingfield, LPC at Virginia Beach Counseling and Wellness.


34. I don’t over schedule clients, I watch my nutrition, I think about exercise, I watch bad TV and I go to therapy. Susan P. Kimball, LCSW, CASAC, Waynesville, NC


35. My go-to self-care practices include weekly depth psychotherapy, attending an Interfaith service, taking warm baths with essential oils, swimming laps, dancing and bushwalking. I am always on the lookout for meaningful pieces of jewellery that I can use for moments of self-acceptance, self-care, self-compassion and self-love. I have a few heart necklaces, some precious stone pendants and a selection of fusion rings. If I catch myself being too harsh on myself, I pause and use them for self-reflection and reflective meditation. Sometimes I just hold the pendant to sooth myself.

Jodie Gale, MA Psychotherapist, Sydney, Australia. *Blog Author*.



About Jodie

Sydney Counsellor, Soul-Centred Life-Coach and Psychotherapist Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. She has a private counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly and Allambie Heights on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Jodie is also available for Private Practice Consultations for Therapists.

- See more at: http://jodiegale.com/50-tips-for-self-care-from-35-mental-health-experts/#sthash.Z7UTeV2L.dpuf

What Girls Need to Know About Growing Up

Posted by POSITIVE START COUNSELING SERVICES, INC on July 16, 2014 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Is This Love? Teen Tips for Romance and Dating

WebMD Feature

By Joanne Barker

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

Love can take you to new highs -- and new lows. You may have the strongest feelings of your life, which is great when things are good. But if things go bad, it’s devastating. Here are six dating tips to help you keep your head during this exciting time.


Dating Tip 1: Take Your Time


Some teens date, some don’t. “Girls need to feel good about themselves before they start to date,” says Charles Wibbelsman, MD, chief of adolescent medicine at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco. His advice: only date if you know yourself and know you want to date. If you’re not ready, it’s cool to stay single and hang out with your close friends.


Dating Tip 2: Find Someone Who Likes You Back


Feelings that aren’t returned can make you question everything about yourself. Did you say something wrong? Were you wearing the wrong things? In a healthy relationship, the feelings are mutual. You respect each other and have fun together. If this doesn’t describe your situation, there’s nothing wrong with you, but you probably do need to keep looking.


Dating Tip 3: Know When to Move On


Sometimes you have to admit it, the relationship isn’t working. Maybe the love of your life has turned mean and selfish. Maybe you realize you want something better. “If a boyfriend doesn’t give you what you need, walk away,” says Danielle Greaves, MSW, who works with girls at The Guidance Center in Cambridge, Mass. She tells girls all the time, “It hurts now, but you can get through this.”


Dating Tip 4: Talk About Facebook Before You Talk on Facebook


Social media puts the ups and downs of dating out there for everyone to see. If you like a guy or he likes you, it’s perfectly OK to ask him not to post things about you online, including pictures. Some things don’t have to be shared with the whole world.


Dating Tip 5: Protect Yourself From Pressure


Pressure is not love, and it’s not even normal. Most teens say they’ve never felt pressured to be in a relationship before they were ready. Still, a little mental preparation never hurts. Decide ahead of time what your values are and how far you want to go. That way, you won’t have to figure it out in the heat of the moment.


Here are a few concrete things you can do to keep yourself out of the pressure chamber:


Avoid situations where a guy might expect more than you want to give.

Go out with boys close to your age. Girls who go out with older guys are more likely to have sex before they’re ready.

Dating Tip 6: Give Love Time to Grow


Sometimes the idea of love is better than love itself. How do you know if you’re really in love?


If you’re infatuated, need constant reassurance, and have trouble thinking about anything else, these are signs you’re not really in love. It’s fun for now, but in time you’ll probably feel disappointed.


Mature love grows stronger with time. The more you get to know each other, the stronger your feelings. And you don’t have to be someone you’re not. You like each other for who you truly are. If you’re like most people, finding mature love takes more than one try, but it’s definitely worth it.