Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Feelings About Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is right around the corner! (Grunt, groan, tears, yippee). The feelings about Valentine's Day are mixed! Whether or not you have a significant other or not, everyone has his/her own feelings about the 14th of February, the day that we have come to recognize as a day of love.

I took an informal random poll of feelings about Valentine's Day, and here are some responses:

"I like it, excuse to eat extra treats!"
"I like the idea, hate the commercialism around it."
"How about making every day a valentine's day and bringing love all the time or even randomly. Why wait for one time a year to express your love for your significant other?"
Eye roll "it's kind of a fun excuse to eat chocolate and do and say something sweet for someone you love. I also love extending it to more than just a significant other. Galentine's are super fun too"
"As long as I get those chalky hearts, I am in!"
"Could take it or leave it. Too much meaning is attached to the day and people end up making themselves miserable if their expectation do not add up or if they are single."
"Waste of a day...hate it."
"Just another day for significant others to fail."

"Who doesn't love love, and chocolate? Even if single!"

The responses say it all: Valentine's Day brings up a lot of mixed feelings for individuals. It can be an awkward day at any stage of a relationship and even more uncomfortable if single. If you are in a relationship, it can be really helpful to talk with your partner about each other's expectations and feelings about the day in general. Perhaps you are quite happy to be on your own, or maybe you would rather be in a romantic relationship. What it really comes down to is how one feels loved and cared for. Gary Chapman has written several books on the languages of love. Everyone feels loved in different ways, including: acts of service, receiving gifts, physical touch, quality time, and words of affirmation. Chapman's books and website can be helpful tools to understand yours and your partners ways of feeling loved. http://www.5lovelanguages.com/ 

Whether you have a special someone to share the commercialized day of love with or you are solo, consider what you can do to show love to yourself and those you care about. Maybe you wish you had someone to buy you flowers or take you out for dinner. This year you may choose to practice loving yourself more and buy yourself flowers, candy, and/or treat yourself to a nice meal. Let Valentine's Day be a reminder to love yourself and those you care for each and every day.

If you would like to see how meeting with a counselor could be helpful for you around this time, reach out to us at Gaithersburg Counseling Center www.healingllc.com, admin@healingllc.com, or 240-274-5680.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Setting Realistic Healthy Goals For A New Year

The end of one year and the beginning of a new allows us the opportunity to reflect on the past. We can take this time to consider what we want to take forward and what we might prefer to leave behind. Plenty of us have a piece or two of our lives that we would like to improve. Most of us are aware of the resolutions of "I am going to finally get organized" or "I am going to get in shape this year" and the commitment to "enjoy life to the fullest". While those resolutions sound nice; it is more helpful and effective to set clear and specific goals for yourself that set you up for success. 

A lot of resolutions, especially in the media promote physical health goals, of joining gyms and a certain weight loss plan. Perhaps you can use this opportunity to think of ways to set meaningful healthy goals this year, and not just physically, but emotional health too. Maybe you want to start each day with a gratitude journal, learn and practice meditation before bed, treat yourself with more kindness by giving yourself a daily compliment, work on trusting that gut instinct more, returning to therapy to enhance your self-esteem, wanting to set healthier boundaries with family or friends, wanting to be a more authentic you, and so many more options to better yourself in a thoughtful, kind way.

It can be helpful to explore and define your goals with a professional counselor, who could facilitate objectively what you might want to work towards in the new year. Should you choose to set your goals on your own, make sure you break your goals down into smaller steps; share your goals with someone who cares and will help you keep a healthy accountability, and manage your expectations for a realistic outcome. Once you are "there"...don't forget to celebrate that feeling of achievement and reward yourself in the most compassionate way you know how.

If you would like to see if meeting with a therapist can be helpful for you to welcome new healthy habits moving forward contact us at Gaithersburg Counseling Center at 240-274-5680, admin@healingllc.com, or www.healingllc.com

Monday, December 5, 2016

Managing Family Relationships During the Holidays

While it might be the most wonderful time of the year for some, for others it may be a difficult time to manage. The happy picture of the family gathered around the table, decorating the Christmas tree, or lighting the menorah may be real for many. There are others that have a different kind of experience in the family of origin and may have other feelings around the holiday season. Gathering with the family may be a tough, conflicting decision to make-wanting to be together with family and at the same time perhaps wanting to avoid a particular relative or keep some distance from some unhealthy family dynamics.

This holiday season try and allow yourself the permission and healthy opportunity to consider and implement what your needs are and what feels right for you. Respecting your own feelings, experiences, and wants and needs could be new to some. This might mean making different decisions or trying a new response to an old situation. That could mean choosing not to attend a gathering, or setting a brief time to go, say to visit for dessert. You may also contemplate getting together with friends, staying home, or creating your own fun and safe traditions.

The holiday times for the healthiest of families can be stressful! If you are struggling with this holiday season and would like to see if meeting with one of our counselors could be helpful for you, contact us at Gaithersburg Counseling Center at admin@healingllc.com, www.healingllc.com or 240-274-5680.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Building Self-Esteem

To some degree, we all face doubts and struggle at times with self-esteem. Thinking about improving your own self-esteem can seem daunting, overwhelming, and raise many other feelings, possibly even related to how you feel about yourself. While working with a therapist to understand how you feel about yourself and how you may have arrived to feel this way there are certain things you can do to help yourself along this healing journey. Below are some ways you can practice turning your self esteem toward a more positive direction.

Practice positive self talk. It is easy to talk critically to yourself, so instead try challenging a thought to a turn it into something more positive.

Try not to compare yourself to others.

Reflect on the accomplishments or times in your life you feel good about.

Get some physical exercise-  its quite empowering and reaps various physical and emotional benefits.

Set a small goal and achieve it. 

Don't beat yourself up: Talk to yourself as you would to a friend.

Focus on the things you can change/control, such as your reaction to certain experiences/events.

Spend time doing activities and things you enjoy.

Practice being in the moment, even for just a few breaths, or minutes.

Take care of you, you are the only one who truly can.

See if you can start with trying out one or two of the above self esteem building activities and check in with yourself about how you may feel. Small steps can lead to great gains to your self worth. If you find yourself struggling with self esteem or are thinking about how a therapist may be able to help you, contact us at Gaithersburg Counseling Center. You may reach us at healingllc.com, 240-274-5680, or admin@healingllc.com.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tips to Help Calm and Manage Anxiety

Many of us experience anxiety on a regular basis. Anxiety can show up in various ways and times and sometimes at really inconvenient moments! Most individuals can identify with the physical and emotional symptoms that can be associated with anxiety, such as feeling overwhelmed, unable to think clearly, feeling panicky,shortness of breath, racing heart, difficulty sleeping, restlessness, shifts in mood, eating more or less than usual, irritability, to name just a few of the ways anxiety can manifest.

While learning to understand your anxiety with the help of a professional (where the anxiety may stem from and what it means), there are ways to help limit anxious feelings or symptoms when they arise. Acknowledging the presence of anxiety is an important place to start. Be mindful that you are feeling anxious and that the anxiety does not have to define you in the moment. While it may feel overwhelming, there are several tips to help you manage and take more control over anxiety producing situations. 

Tips to help manage anxiety in the moment:

-Deep breathing techniques--can be done in any place at most any time (take a deep breath in through your nose or mouth for as long as you are able and then push that breath out until you feel the need to breath in again; repeat for 10 long breaths in and out, counting each inhale and exhale as a completed deep breath. Continue as long as necessary until feeling more calm

-Talk to someone-it can be helpful to talk about how your anxiety makes you feel and help you to feel not so alone in it

-Distractions- turning your attention to something else is helpful to take you away from the anxiety; such as playing video games, Sudoku, word-finds, coloring books, listening and singing along to music, taking a walk outside

While anxiety can be uncomfortable it does not have to stop you from enjoying your life to its fullest. If you find yourself struggling with anxiety and would like to see if meeting with a professional counselor could be helpful for you reach out to us at Gaithersburg Counseling Center 240-274-5680, admin@healingllc.com or www.healingllc.com.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Tips For A Good Nights Rest

Many can relate to the lethargic symptoms associated with the lack of a good nights sleep. Without a routine good nights rest the effects of sleeplessness can be felt in daily functioning at both home and work. Sleeplessness can be a factor or symptom in some mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. There are also more significant sleep issues that could be attributed to medical conditions such as sleep apnea or insomnia. It is always encouraged to discuss any sleep related concerns with your medical and mental health providers to help determine the cause and help guide best treatment for you,

Some suggestions to support a good nights sleep:

-put phone and other electronic devices aside for 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime
-as much as possible, keep a consistent bedtime and wake time
-maintain the bed for sleep time only; if you have difficulty falling asleep, get up and do something else, like read on the couch or sweep the kitchen floors
-try calming aromatherapy, such as lavender oils in the bath or linen sprays intended for bed time use.  
-develop a night time routine (think of it like we do for children...a warm bath, glass of milk, read a chapter of a book, and lights out)
-if you are laying in bed and having difficulty falling asleep instead of counting sheep, try something that works your brain differently, like recalling the first and last name of those you attended grade school with, in alphabetical order (e.g., Alison Smith, Bob Brown, Charlie Moore)
-If you happen to be more sensitive to noise within or outside your home, consider purchasing a white noise machine or small fan to drown out any sounds that could prevent you from falling or staying asleep
- With a doctors approval, try an over the counter natural herbal remedy, such as Melatonin, Valerian, or Chamomile to help.
-If you are particularly anxious or depressed there is a likelihood that you will experience some sleep disturbance, so it may be beneficial to consult with your primary doctor or psychiatrist to discuss more medical based interventions to help you get the best rest possible

If you find yourself having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep and would like to discuss this with a professional counselor to see how we may be of help, contact us at Gaithersburg Counseling Center at 240-274-5680admin@healingllc.com or visit our website atwww.healingllc.com

Friday, June 24, 2016

Exercise and Mental Health

It is no secret that physical exercise is so important for the health of your body. What may be more surprising are the benefits of exercise to your mental health and overall well-being. There are significant ways exercise supports mental health! You have likely heard of the "runner's high", the endorphins (the feel good chemicals) that get released during exercise and other physical activity. Beyond the endorphin release are multiple other reasons to lace up your sneakers and take a walk, or head to the gym. Some of these include:

-Taking the time out for yourself: When else do you make time just for YOU? 
-Making yourself a priority (body and mind).
-Physical activity allows you to focus on the task at hand, and practice being in the moment. A chance to put aside the to-do list/worries/concerns temporarily. 
-You get the opportunity to try new workouts and change it up if you get bored of the latest one. For example, if you are tired from running try a spinning class, yoga, interval training, or any other activity that keeps you moving, motivated and stimulated.
-Challenging yourself-ever thought about rock climbing, trapezeing, or signing up for a 5k run? There may be physical activities that sound intimidating if they are new, but it also allows you the chance to try out something different. By pushing yourself outside your comfort zone you may experience a confidence boost as well.
-Fun-if you prefer to walk with a friend, or join a club sports team it is a great chance to catch up and/or meet new friends and connect while doing your body and mind some good.
-Control-We certainly do not have control over some parts of life, but we can control what we decide to do with our bodies. By keeping a structured time to exercise your muscles allows you to have a little bit of what you can control while perhaps keeping some anxiety at ease.
-Chance to modify-Physical injuries, disabilities or limitations do not necessarily have to keep you from being active; you may need to modify what you had been doing for example, if you were running 3 times per week and developed a foot injury you may need to explore other options such as swimming or bike riding to alleviate pressure on a certain body part while continuing to achieve the benefits of regular exercise.

While it seems easy to come up with an excuse not to exercise, see if you can find a reason TO make that time for yourself.  If starting a new or different exercise routine it is encouraged to check with your physician first. If you are thinking about making some changes in your lifestyle and would like to explore this further with one of our therapists, contact us at Gaithersburg Counseling Center at admin@healingllc.com or 240-274-5680 or visit our website at www.healingllc.com.