7 Relationship Myths Debunked by a Therapist

Woman and man in love on beach

Relationships are a tricky business. Many of us spend a great deal of time thinking about relationships, preparing for them, even recovering from them.

As a therapist, I see relationship problems come up quite often in my work with clients. In fact, it’s one of the most common reasons why people seek out therapy.

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Checking in on Your Mental Health Resolutions

compass facing a lake at sunset

We are several weeks into 2018 and this is as good as time as any to check in with yourself about your mental health goals. It can be difficult to begin and maintain progress through your goals, especially this time of year, as we all try to regain our footing with our day-to-day schedules and responsibilities.

That’s why it’s incredibly important to take some time to reflect and re-group to see where you are with your mental health resolutions. Taking time to assess your progress is an invaluable part of the goal-setting process. Moving forward takes routine, evaluation, and consistent checking in.

So, how are you doing with your goals? Here are a few questions that you may want to begin by asking yourself.

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How Therapists Keep Their Clients Accountable

Coffee cup and calendar for accountability

Working with a therapist is one of the best things that you can do to better your mental health. It is a highly individualized process and can look different from person to person. This is what makes therapy feel so safe and productive for so many people.

At the same time, there often comes a time when you’re working on particular goals in therapy and need to be held accountable for making progress. Staying on task, and being accountable for your progress, is an important part of the therapy process — but it can be tricky territory when you need help staying on track. Some people may feel ashamed to ask for help, others may be resistant to the thought of being held accountable.

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The Mental Health Benefits of the Holidays

woman with christmas socks and mug relaxing by fireplace

Often when we talk about the holidays, we tend to focus on the stressors and challenges of this time of year. Nonetheless, the holiday season isn’t all bad, and there are certainly some powerful positive benefits for our mental health this time of year.

It Gives Us Some Much Needed Downtime

For most of us, the holiday season is a period of high stress and represents a strong departure from our regular routines. This disruption can be challenging to manage. On the other hand, it is also a period in which we experience a much-needed escape from our regular obligations and responsibilities. Continue reading The Mental Health Benefits of the Holidays

Getting the Most Out of 2018: SMART Goals and Mental Health Resolutions

2018 goals notebook coffee house plant

The end of the year is here, and for most of us this is a time when we start thinking about how things can change in the new year. Many of us set up resolutions in the new year to be better, look better and act better.

Culturally, goals for the new year often focus on changing our physical selves. But what if we devoted some tried and true goal setting approaches to changing our emotional and psychological selves too?

As we prepare for the new year give some thought to how you’d like for your emotional life to be better in 2018. Would you like to practice better self-care? How about ending some old relationship patterns rooted in past hurt? Continue reading Getting the Most Out of 2018: SMART Goals and Mental Health Resolutions

Why You Should Unplug this Holiday Season, According to a Therapist

woman holding unplug mug snowy winter day

Near the end of each year most of us are chomping at the bit, anxiously awaiting some much-needed downtime. As business slows down and responsibilities wane, people look forward to much-needed rest and rejuvenation. This break is also an opportunity to finally unplug.

There’s a lot of emerging research on the effects of technology use on our collective mental health, but what’s most important to understand about technology is how ubiquitous connectivity can exacerbate worry, fear, sadness and a host of other emotions. If unchecked, this effect could contribute to mental fatigue. Continue reading Why You Should Unplug this Holiday Season, According to a Therapist

3 Tips to Survive the Holidays While Living with Mental Illness

snowflakes clouds holiday winter background

As joyous as the holiday season can be, it is not immune from difficulties. If you’re living with a mental illness, dealing with the holiday cheer, increased expectations, and interacting more with family may prove to be overwhelming at times. Stress is often at an all-time high during the holiday season.

Here are some tips to help keep you mentally healthier throughout the holidays.

Tip 1: Be Honest With Yourself

Too often, we rely on others’ standards and expectations for us to dictate how we spend our time during the holidays. This pattern can lead to a crisis when you consider the already stressful season of spending extra money and a condensed amount of time with family members who may not understand your mental illness. Continue reading 3 Tips to Survive the Holidays While Living with Mental Illness

5 Tips to Prepare for the Season of SAD

woman holding coffee mug during winter snowing

Up to 10% of the American population lives with SAD [Seasonal Affective Disorder]. In the fall and winter months, when the days are shortest, Seasonal Affective Disorder can be very challenging to deal with. As the name suggests, those who live with the disorder may experience a cluster of depressive symptoms such as feeling low or depressed, sleeping too much, experiencing low motivation, and so forth.

SAD can put a strain on those living with the condition. This post includes some tips to help you prepare for the upcoming season of SAD. Continue reading 5 Tips to Prepare for the Season of SAD

When to Disclose Your Mental Health Issues (And When Not To)

anxious woman at conference table with co-workers

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health issues. It can be hard to determine when it’s the right time to talk about your conditions, and when it’s the right time to sit back and stay tight-lipped. How do you decide?

In the Workplace

My clients often discuss the challenges of dealing with mental health issues in the workplace. They sometimes ask, “Should I tell my employer about my depression?” A lot of times, it depends.

There are some positive signs that might foreshadow a favorable reaction when it comes to talking to your employer about your mental health. The first question I always ask my clients is, “What do you expect or stand to gain from making this disclosure?” Sometimes the answer is direct and concrete, such as more time to complete an assignment or task. Other times it might be about being able to schedule a break in the work day to make a weekly therapy or doctor appointment. Continue reading When to Disclose Your Mental Health Issues (And When Not To)

Living with Summer Depression: ‘Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder’

summer sky shadow over woman

When people talk about seasonal depression, we usually think of the “wintertime blues.” But there are those who live with a rarer form of Seasonal Affective Disorder known as “summer SAD.”

What was previously known as Seasonal Affective Disorder is now under the criteria for Major Depressive Disorder with a specifier for a seasonal pattern. Referred to as “wintertime blues,” those living with seasonal depression report episodes of fatigue, depressed or sad mood, and a host of other symptoms. For most, this occurs when the days are shorter, darker and cooler, usually during the fall and winter months.

What is less common — yet still valid — is summer SAD. Much like it’s wintertime counterpart, summer depression leaves those living with the condition feeling fatigued, hopeless, and lethargic. The difference is it has this effect during months when people are expected to be bright, happy, and excited. This can be frustrating for those with summer sadness. The pressure to seem well can exacerbate the depressive symptoms they may be experiencing. Continue reading Living with Summer Depression: ‘Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder’