Category: <span>Stress</span>

6 Tips for Solving Relationship Conflicts

Conflict within romantic relationships is inevitable. When you integrate your life with
another person, it is bound to lead to disputes at some point.

Arguments within romantic relationships range from small ones surrounding what movie to watch to larger ones over career choices or how to raise children. It’s important to
note that while arguments aren’t ideal, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is trouble
in your relationship. When handled correctly, conflict can help to strengthen a
relationship. However, conflicts can escalate to where nothing is resolved and can lead
to the deterioration in relationships.

On the flip side, a couple that never has a conflict or talks about problems doesn’t have
an opportunity to communicate and resolve them. Finding a balance between high
levels of conflict and no conflict can help couples have a long and healthy relationship together.

That being said,

having specific tools and strategies at your disposal during a conflict

can help improve the odds of a successful resolution. Here are some tools that can help
solve relationship conflict:

Be direct

It can be easy for people to beat around the bush instead of plaining stating what is
upsetting or bothering them. When in conflict, people often choose a more subtle and
indirect way of expressing their displeasure.

For instance, partners may avoid discussing the conflict by switching topics or
minimizing their feelings by responding with “I’m fine” after their partner notices they are
irritated. This lack of directness leaves both partners without a clear guide as to what
the problem is, how the other person is feeling, or how to solve the problem.

Instead, work towards having direct communication with your partner. While it may be a
bit uncomfortable at first, directly stating what is bothering you is the first step in solving
relationship conflict.

Use “I”  Statements & quotes to talk about the way you feel without blaming your partner

Statements that directly blame or put your partner as the direct reason for your feeling
seldomly help produce a good healthy dialogue on solving the problem. This is because
people typically go on the defense when they feel blamed or attacked in a conversation.

Instead, a more constructive way to communicate your feelings is through the use of “I
statements.” These statements focus on how you feel instead of being directed at your
partner. For instance, an “I statement” would pair an emotion and a behavior description
that focuses on a specific behavior your partner is engaged in. An example of this could
be, “I feel sad when you are on your phone during dinner.” This helps you be direct
while focusing on your partner’s specific behavior and the emotion that it makes you
feel.

Stay away from using the words like “never” or “always” during an argument

Saying things like “You are always selfish” during an argument leads the other partner
to feel like you’re attacking their character. This leads to defensiveness, stonewalling,
and decreased chance of solving the conflict at hand.

Instead of using words that suggest that you’re partner “always”or “never” does
something that bothers you, try focusing on the particular situation at hand. Focusing on
the current situation allows you and your partner to work together to resolve the current
conflict without bringing up one’s character or other moments within the relationship.

Not Everything Needs to be a Conflict

Not every single situation needs to turn into a conflict. A relationship is about
compromise and understanding. While some things do need to be addressed,

especially if they make you feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or hurt, it may be best to let go
of minor issues such as forgetting to empty the dishwasher once in a while.

Listen to What your Partner is Saying

Sometimes we fall into the habit of listening to our partners to respond. But,
unfortunately, when we listen to respond instead of listening to comprehend, sometimes
we miss what our partner is trying to tell us.

Trying practicing active listening by reflecting the content of what your partner is telling
you back to them. This will help you better understand what your partner is telling you
and lead to more understanding of the conflict and better discussions surrounding it.

Know When it is Time to Take a Time-Out

Tensions can run high at times during a conflict. While it’s important to talk it out,
stepping away from the problem for a bit can also be beneficial. Taking a break can
allow you to process your own emotions around the conflict and calm any heightened
emotions that may have come about.

However, its essential to note that taking a time-out and removing yourself from the
situation is different. By taking a breather, you and your partner communicate how long
the time-out will be, where you are going (taking a walk around the block, going on a car
ride, etc.), and when you are going to continue the conversation. This communication
will help both partners feel respected and minimize any feelings of abandonment or
hurt.

For instance, communicating your need for a break could look like, &quot;Can we take a 20-
minute break from this conversation? I want to calm down a bit and go for a walk around
the block. We can talk about this more when I get back.&quot; Clearly stating your need for a
break and being specific and direct will allow your partner to understand where you are
coming from and be on the same page.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness has become an increasingly popular form of self-care and a widely used mental health technique throughout recent years. Because it can be practiced in many different ways, mindfulness has become a flexible option for many people.

Oftentimes, we find ourselves going into our future or past too much. This can lead to feeling drained, anxious, stressed, or the development of mental health distress such as depression. Practicing mindfulness can help direct our attention away from patterns of thinking that lead to these difficult emotions and into a frame of mind that helps us engage with the world around us in the present moment.

Mindfulness helps you bring your focus and awareness to the present moment through different techniques such as focusing on sensations and feelings in the moment without judgement or interpretation. This practice can involve activities such as deep breathing, meditation, guided imagery, or guided body awareness activities like Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR).

Benefits of Mindfulness

Multiple clinical studies have supported the effectiveness of mindfulness activities including decreasing:

  • Stress
  • Symptoms of Depression
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks
  • Pain
  • Insomnia

Not only has mindfulness been shown to help decrease symptoms stemming from mental health disorders, it has also illustrated efficacy in:

  • Improving sleep
  • Decreasing feelings of burnout
  • Improving attention
  • Improving diabetes control

Mindfulness Activities

There are countless ways to practice mindfulness on a daily basis. Here are a few mindfulness activities that are relatively common.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)

 This technique involves focusing on individual muscle groups throughout your body. Within PMR, you focus on slowly tensing individual muscle groups and then relaxing them. This activity helps you connect with your body, understand the difference between what it feels like to be tensed and relaxed, and become aware of physical sensations within your body.

Most PMR activities start with tensing and relaxing the muscles in your head and neck and working your way down to your toes. Try to tense your muscles for about five seconds and then relax for between 15-30 seconds before moving onto the next muscle group.

 Breathing

 Breathing activities to practice mindfulness can be done a lot of different ways. The most basic way of doing mindful breathing is to focus your attention on your breath. Take time to focus on your inhale and exhale in order to limit your mind from wandering to other things outside of your breath.

Focusing solely on your breathing can be difficult, especially if it is a new practice. If you want to practice a more structured approach to mindful breathing, short guided breathing exercises are available online for you to follow along with and many don’t take more than 5 minutes.

 Visualization

 This technique guides you to form mental images to take a visual journey to a peaceful, calming, or happy place or situation. Visualization usually incorporates many different senses such as smell, sight, sound, and touch within the guided visual journey in order for you to immerse yourself in your vision.

In order to get the most out of this experience, it’s recommended that you sit or lay in a quiet spot, wear loose clothing, and concentrate on your breathing and on the visualization activity.

 Acceptance Training

Take a moment to notice the thoughts about yourself that you are having that are directed to yourself. Are they how you would talk to a best friend or are they a little harsher than you would like them to be? Focus on treating yourself like you would treat a good friend. Would you be more gentle? More Patient? More flexible?

Use this information to practice acceptance and compassion for yourself, your thoughts, and your feelings surrounding how you talk to yourself.

Notice the Present Moment

 The inner monologue that many of us have can be difficult to separate from. This technique helps you step away from your thoughts about the past or the future in order to focus on what is happening around you in the present moment.

Start by focusing on your breath and the sensations in your body. Once you start focusing on that, slowly bring your attention to what is happening around you. Notice the sounds, smells, and other sensations and senses that are currently present with you in the room. While some thoughts will come up, try and notice them without judgement and let them pass without inspecting them too closely.

There are many mindfulness guided videos that can help you get in touch with the present moment if you’re looking for more structure within this technique.

When to Practice Mindfulness

Depending on the mindfulness practice you choose, it is a flexible activity that can be done anywhere and anytime. Exercises like breathing, acceptance training, and noticing the present moment can be done relatively quickly and in any setting. However, research has suggested that doing mindfulness in an outdoor environment is even more effective and beneficial.

Exercises that are a bit more structured such as Progressive Muscle Relaxation or Guided Meditation require you to set aside time and be in a quiet space free from distractions or interruptions. We recommend trying these types of activities in the morning or before bed in order to get you ready for the day or decompress and get ready for bed.

Mindfulness is something that may take time in order for it to feel effortless. Aim to practice a form of mindfulness everyday for about a month in order for it to become a habit. It may be helpful to think of it as a form of self-care and a way to reconnect with yourself.

Child Counseling Services

Knowing if what your child is going through is normal or part of a bigger issue can be difficult. Typically, children and teens could benefit from therapy when they are struggling with issues they can’t cope with alone or are experiencing symptoms that are affecting their ability to function on a daily basis. It can also be beneficial when certain life transitions occur within a child’s life such as moving, a change in family dynamics such as a death in the family, divorce, or new marriage.

Therapy is a type of treatment that can help children and teens experiencing problems that affect how they feel, act, or learn. This process can help teens learn how to problem solve, communicate, and better cope with the issues they face.

What Problems Do Child Therapists Help With?

 Therapists that work with children and adolescents are trained to treat a wide range of problems that children and teens face. For example, child counselors can help children and teens navigate difficult situations like:

  • Family conflict and divorce
  • School Problems
  • Bullyings
  • Health Problems
  • Life Transitions

Therapists can also help children and teens understand and deal with difficult emotions such as:

  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Stress
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Grief
  • Nervousness

In addition to helping children and teens deal with emotions and situations within their life, therapists are also trained in helping treat conditions like:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • OCD
  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Eating Disorders
  • Self-injury
  • Disruptive Thoughts
  • Suicide Ideation
  • Trauma-related Disorders

What to Expect from Therapy?

Different approaches in treatment will be taken by the therapist depending on the client’s age. For instance, play therapy is typically used for younger children. This entails drawing, playing, and talking within each session. For older children and teens, talk therapy with activities that focus on learning and communication skills is typically used.

Both of these therapies include support from the therapist for the child to increase confidence, self-esteem, communication, and problem solving skills. Child and adolescent psychotherapy also provides a space for children and teens to talk, express, and further understand their feelings and learn ways to cope with them outside of therapy.

What Happens in Therapy?

Child psychologists and counselors employ a variety of methods when working with children and adolescents. For example, a therapist may use:

  • Talk – Talking helps children and teens express their feelings. When children feel like their feelings are able to be expressed without judgement while being validate, they can learn how to express and understand their emotions in a healthier way
  • Activities – Counselors employ a range of activities throughout the therapy in order to help the client understand, reflect, and find better ways to express feelings, communication, and coping skills. This can be done through activities such as play, drawing, or role-playing. For instance, meditation or breathing exercises may be used to help children and teens cope with intense feelings like stress, anxiety, or worry.
  • Life Skill Practice – Therapists often work with children and teens on life skills throughout the therapeutic process. This may be done through activities such as games which helps the client learn and practice skills such as self-control, self-advocacy, patience, sharing, and appropriate expression of feelings.
  • Problem Solving and Expression – Typically done with older children and adolescents, therapists will work with clients in order to find ways to solve problems that they are experiencing within their life.

How Long does Therapy Last

The length of therapy varies for everyone. A lot of factors influence the length of therapy such as what kind of therapy is being practiced, what reason your child or teen has come into therapy for, and the goals of therapy. In order to see improvement and goal attainment, expect therapy to last a few months to a few years with weekly sessions.

The Parent’s Role

As a parent, it can be difficult to know what your role is in the therapeutic process for your child or teen. Here are a few things that you can do in order to help your child get the most from therapy:

  • Find a Therapist that is a Good Fit for your Child – It’s important to find a therapist that your child likes and feels comfortable with. Starting therapy can cause some discomfort at first so it’s important to check in with how your child is feeling about the process and the therapist. We recommend looking through our clinicians to find someone that is a good fit for your child’s needs.
  • Keep a Consistent Therapy Schedule – Change takes time and being inconsistent with therapy appointments may result in slower goal attainment or change to occur in your child’s life.
  • Meet with the Therapist – It may be helpful to meet with the therapist and discuss the problems or symptoms that you are noticing at home or at school. Take the time to ask the therapist what you can do to help your child get the most out of therapy. Most of the time, the therapist can give you direction as to what to do that will be most beneficial to your specific case.
  • Parent with Compassion – Your child is going through a lot of changes and possibly dealing with some difficult emotions in therapy sessions. Because of this, it is important to show love, praise your child when they are doing well, and using kind words – even when correcting their behavior.

When is a Good time to start Child Counseling and Psychotherapy?

A good time to consider starting mental health counseling for your child or teen is when emotional or behavioral problems occur. Getting help earlier usually makes it easier to help the child or teen.

However, we understand the importance to avoid unnecessary treatments and associated costs in time and money. Sometimes it may be beneficial to monitor your child before starting counseling. If you’re unsure with whether or not counseling would be a good option, talking with a therapist can help guide you in the right direction or call our office at 847-979-0268 for more information.

When to take Action

There are few instances when it may not be a good idea to wait before starting therapy or seeking mental health help. For instance:

Eating Disorders – Eating disorders become harder to treat the longer the person with it has been struggling with it. This and the detrimental effects it can have on your child’s physical and mental health is why it is important to seek immediate help if your child is displaying signs of an eating disorder.

Family History – As certain mental disorders can be genetic, it is important to be aware of the increased chance that your child may begin to develop a mental health disorder that has been present in your family. If there is a history of mental health disorders in your family, it may be beneficial to start therapy a bit earlier, especially if symptoms or behaviors start presenting themselves.

Self-Harm, Cutting, or Suicide Attempts – Self-harm behavior such as cutting, suicide attempt, or suicide ideation is a dangerous behavior that should not be dismissed – even if it was a one time occurance. It’s important to get help from a trained professional in order to further understand the underlying reasons and emotions behind the action.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about child psychotherapy, counseling services, and psychological testing, please call our office at (847) 979-0268 or visit our website to learn more about the services we offer.

How to Deal with Burnout and Avoid it in the Future

So many times life is ok until it isn’t. We hold it together and shuffle from responsibility to responsibility, attempting to uphold all of our commitments while also dealing with the stressors that come along with it. 

 

Sometimes it feels like if one more thing goes wrong or you have to take on another responsibility in your life, that delicate balancing act that you’ve been in charge of comes crashing down around you. 

 

Feeling overwhelmed or burnt out isn’t a fun thing to live with and has potential to lead to mental and physical health issues if not addressed properly. 

 

Common stressors and things that can often lead to feelings of being overwhelmed are common occurrences throughout a person’s lifespan. These common stressors include things such as pregnancy, trouble with a boss, a career change, or a change in responsibilities at work. However,  feeling burnt out or overwhelmed by these stressors doesn’t have to be a normal part of your life. 

 

Myself, like many, have gone through a lot of life changes throughout the last year. From transitioning to working from home to added responsibilities at work and less time for socialization due to Covid-19, it slowly wore me down. I soon felt myself feeling exhausted all the time and had a lot of difficulty concentrating enough to be productive at work. I started getting more moody around my family and started feeling so overwhelmed that I could barely uphold any of my responsibilities. 

 

Luckily, I was able to recognize my feelings of being burnt out and overwhelmed by my life that I was able to implement some of the tools that have helped a lot of my clients dealing with similar feelings of being overwhelmed and burnt out. 

 

If this sounds like you, it’s important to understand that just like other feelings, these feelings of being overwhelmed don’t need to be a constant part of your life and there are lifestyle tweaks that you can do in order to alleviate some of these heavy feelings. 

 

Work on a Solid Sleep Schedule

 

Mental health and sleep are closely intertwined and more research is coming out that is finding that poor quality of sleep or not enough good sleep can lead to an increase in stress and other feelings that may contribute to feeling burnt out or overwhelmed. In fact, research has found a link between sleep, insomnia, and the activation of anxiety and depression symptoms. 

 

This being said, try creating a sleep schedule to foster better and longer sleep if you find that you are having trouble sleeping and staying asleep. Experts recommend 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults. 

 

Mindfulness is your Friend 

 

Recent studies have found that using mindfulness techniques such as meditation, journaling, and deep breathing are effective ways for reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.

 

If self-guided meditation isn’t your thing, there are a lot of different things to try that are also mindfulness based. For instance, try exploring different mindfulness videos or apps. Many are free and can help get you started in including mindfulness in your daily routine. 

 

Make Changes to your Schedule 

 

United States culture values hustle and ‘the grind’. In fact, taking on side jobs or ‘side hustles’ is often encouraged and is slowly becoming the new normal. However, as our lives become progressively more filled with responsibilities or expectations from others, it can start to have a negative effect on our mental health and ultimately lead to burnout and feelings of being overwhelmed. 

 

Take a look at your daily schedule and try to notice if there are any times that you dedicate to doing something you like or that is relaxing. This could be taking a walk, playing an instrument, or talking with a friend or family member. If it is starting to seem like there isn’t enough time in the day for these kinds of activities, it might be time to see if there is anything you could maybe let go of. 

 

Work on Saying No 

 

As I mentioned above, our society is based around the word ‘yes’. Sometimes, it seems that this is the only answer when someone asks you to do something. Constantly saying yes to things creates more stress in your life because it adds additional expectations and responsibilities that you need to juggle. 

 

If you’re a ‘yes’ person and find yourself feeling stressed every time you have to say yes to something, try working ‘no’ into your vocabulary a little more. Now, I’m not saying to say no to every opportunity that comes your way. However, understanding what you can take on and where to draw boundaries is a great first step at managing future stress and future burnout. 

 

Take Breaks 

 

Not taking breaks throughout your day is a surefire way to reach burnout fast. While it may feel like taking breaks will make you less productive and less likely to accomplish tasks related to the responsibilities, taking breaks may have more benefits than one. 

 

In fact, taking breaks throughout the day has been found to help restore your motivation, especially for long-term goals and tasks and can lead to more productivity and creativity. Because of this, try to schedule small breaks throughout the day in order to give yourself time to feel refreshed and refocused before jumping back into your tasks and responsibilities.

Covid-19 and Mental Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Covid-19 has had a negative effect on mental health for a lot of people. Mental health includes our emotional, social, and psychological well-being and has the ability to affect how we think, how we feel, and what actions we take such as how we handle stress. This being said, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to influence how we live our daily lives, it is important to understand its impacts on our mental health. 

 

Throughout the years, a large body of research has found that social isolation and loneliness have been linked to a decrease in mental and physical health. In fact, the former US Surgeon Vivek Murthy has recently brought this to the public’s attention, pointing out that social isolation and loneliness has the potential to reduce lifespan and increase risk for mental health issues and physical illnesses. 

 

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has created a need to be much more isolated and distanced than many of us have experienced in our lives. While it is important to follow the advice of healthcare professionals to practice safe and effective methods for fighting Covid-19 transmissions such as wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and sheltering in place if advised, it can be difficult to fulfill basic needs, such as social interaction, necessary for mental and physical well-being.

 

According to health professionals, Covid-19 may be a part of our lives for longer than any of us would like. Because of this, it may be helpful to implement a self-care and wellness routine in order to take care of your mental and physical health for the long haul.

 

Eat Balanced and Nutritious Meals

 

At this point you have probably found that you are much more sedentary than you used to be in your life pre-Covid. With the majority of gyms still closed and as you’ve settled into your WFH routine, you may find it increasingly difficult to make healthy and balanced decisions at meal times. 

 

Because of this, it may be helpful to try out meal-prepping and mindful grocery shopping. This could include creating a list of ingredients and meals you want to make for the week so you’re more focused when you’re walking down the aisles at the grocery store.

 

While it may be tempting to order out food (and by all means order every once in a while to support local businesses in your community), try to limit take out as best you can and stick to foods that make you feel good. Nobody is the same, so find what works best for you and what makes you feel good and stick to that! 

 

On the same note, don’t forget to drink water! It’s easier to forget to drink water when your regular routine is disrupted but hydration is just as important for mental and physical well being as eating a healthy and balanced diet is. 

 

Get a Good Sleep Schedule Going 

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Practicing good sleep hygiene is integral to mental health and wellness. In fact, research conducted at Harvard University states that sleep problems increase the risk of developing depression and may actually be a risk factor associated with developing an anxiety disorder. 

 

In order to decrease your risk of developing mental health issues, focus on getting between seven to nine hours of sleep per night and going to bed at around the same time every night. While it’s tempting to want to binge-watch Netflix in bed, it may also be helpful to only use your bedroom for sleeping in order to associate that space with relaxation and rest.

 

Stay Connected 

Luckily, it’s 2021 and technology is advanced enough to bring us together in more ways than one. Despite not being able to go out like we used to, there are alternative ways to gain that social connection needed for your mental well-being. 

 

For instance, try planning a time when you and a friend or family member can video chat. While it can’t beat in-person social gatherings, talking to someone you love can help decrease the feeling of isolation and loneliness which will help increase your mental well-being. 

 

Even if video chat isn’t available to you, a quick phone call to someone in your support system can be a great boost for your mental health and overall mood. 

 

Find a Work/Life Balance that Works for You

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Before Covid-19, it was easier to be able to separate work from the rest of your life. However, as more people move to working remotely, that separation can get a little muddy which can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious. 

 

Because of this blurred divide between your work and home life, it may be helpful to separate your areas for work and play. Much like only using your bedroom for sleep, try sectioning off a particular area in your home that is solely dedicated to work. This way when the work day is over, it is easier to transition into home mode by physically moving yourself out of that space. 

 

Seek Help if you Feel Overwhelmed or Unsafe

 

Living through a global pandemic is hard and it is ok to not be ok. If you start feeling overwhelmed with feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety, or feel like you may want to harm yourself or others, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. 

 

Here is a list of sources that may be useful for you. In addition to this list, you can always reach out to our office and make an appointment (in-person or via telehealth) for psychotherapy and counseling. 

 

Resources:

 

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) – Free and confidential support for people in distress, 24/7.

National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for treatment referral and information, 24/7.

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