How to Break a Bad Habit

cigarette burning

Last week I was using my husband’s laptop to respond to some quick emails before heading to work. I was frantically typing away, wanting to hit send as fast as possible to still make my train, when a notification popped up on his screen: “don’t bite your nails today, Brian!” I laughed out loud and wondered — can you really break a three-decade habit with a Google Calendar reminder?

It turns out the answer is yes. Habits form after much practice and repetition, and that’s also how they’re broken. A daily ping on his laptop, cell phone, and iPad reminds Brian cyclically to change his behavior, making him more committed to reaching his goal. Of course, Brian’s habit is mild on the bad-habit continuum, so it’s easier to break as long as he’s dedicated. I have habits like this, too — eating meals in bed, almost always having a phone that’s out of battery, leaving my clean laundry in the hamper, unfolded for too long. But there are also strong, addictive habits, too, such as substance abuse, which can be much more difficult to break. Continue reading How to Break a Bad Habit

How to Help an Online Friend in Need

lost phone in the woods

Being a good friend means being there for someone while they’re hitting some bumps in the road. It means offering love and support when you notice someone needs it the most. It can mean simply being a shoulder for them to cry on — but that can be hard to do when it comes to helping an online friend, someone you may never have met in person.

With everyone spending more and more time online, online friendships are becoming more and more common. Online is no longer just to maintain friendships made at school or work, but also to forge entirely new ones with peers while browsing social networks or playing online games. Similarly, your feed is also likely filled with friends you haven’t seen or spoken to in years — fringe friends from high school, old acquaintances, and former coworkers — people who are far from your best buds, but whose startling posts or cries for help can make you worry just the same. Continue reading How to Help an Online Friend in Need

5 Signs You’re Too Hard On Yourself

woman staring at herself in the mirror

For many people, it’s easy to forgive someone else, but a lot harder to forgive him of herself. Holding yourself to an impossible standard of perfectionism is a common cause of this inability to forgive yourself. Ignoring positives and solely focusing on the negatives during self-reflection can lead to wrong turns, missed opportunities, and mistakes. Of course, striving to be the best version of yourself and continuously improving yourself isn’t a bad thing, but if you’re constantly focusing on your own shortcomings and errors, it can take a toll on your mental health.

“The tone of your self-talk is the key,” said Amy Cirbus, a New York-based Talkspace therapist. “There’s a difference between saying ‘That didn’t work out, I think I might be able to do that better’ versus ‘I can never get this right, I’m such a failure.’ Continue reading 5 Signs You’re Too Hard On Yourself

The Fragile Emotional State of America

protesters with American flag

Statistically, things are looking peachy in the U.S., the unemployment rate is low, and we’re seeing robust job growth — both cause for celebration. One could assume the challenges of the recession that was stressing us out are behind us. But according to a new survey, Americans are more stressed, worried, and angry than they have been in a decade.

Gallup’s annual Global Emotions Report surveyed more than 150,000 people in 140 countries to capture the global state of emotions. The poll showed that:

  • Americans are more worried and stressed than most people around the world: 55% of Americans said they had felt stressed the day before the survey, compared to a global average of 35%
  • 45% of Americans said they felt a lot of worry, in comparison to a 39% global average
  • More than 20% of Americans said they felt a lot of anger, which matches the global average)
  • Greece, the Philippines, and Tanzania were the only countries with stress rates higher than the U.S.

Continue reading The Fragile Emotional State of America

Pathological Liars: Understanding Compulsive Lying

woman embracing male partner staring blankly toward camera

A pathological liar exhibits the chronic behavior of habitual or compulsive lying. While it’s common to tell an occasional white lie, pathological liars tell more than a random fib — oftentimes lying has become part of that person’s everyday life, and telling a lie feels more natural than telling the truth.

While there are a number of reasons people lie — to spare someone’s feelings or avoid difficult situations — pathological lying is usually a symptom of a greater problem. Continue reading Pathological Liars: Understanding Compulsive Lying

What To Do If You Don’t Approve Of Your Friend’s Partner

Odd couple

Your friend met a new guy, and she’s head over heels about him. He’s all she talks about, and she’s over the moon to have met him. You, as her friend, are happy for her — until, that is, you meet him. You want to scream “You can do so much better!” because you know this guy isn’t worthy of her time. But, the question is, should you? We can’t choose who our friends date, so is it worth speaking up?

For the sake of your friendship, it’s best to give the new partner a chance (or two… or three…), after all, your friend sees something in him or her, and the new partner could be nervous or slow to warm up. But if something still feels off, you might want to share what’s on your mind. Continue reading What To Do If You Don’t Approve Of Your Friend’s Partner

Tidying Up: What Cleanliness Says About Your Mental Health

Cluttered closet

One of the things I’ve always admired about myself is that sometimes my behavior, when overly stressed or anxious, can feel beneficial. A few minutes to whisk the vacuum across the living room floor, and it’s like I meditated; give me a sponge and a grimy bathroom, and I’ll give you shine and calm.

Looking at a spotless and tidy home, whatever’s bothering me feels temporarily paused. Cleanliness translates to lower stress and anxiety for me — and a flawless home for my family growing up, my roommates in college, and my husband now — how lucky are they? Continue reading Tidying Up: What Cleanliness Says About Your Mental Health

How Mental Health Counselors Help Change Your Life

A male counselor talks to a couple

Many people have the misconception that a counselor is only for people with serious mental health issues — and if nothing is absolutely “broken,” then counseling isn’t for them. This simply isn’t true, however — you don’t have to be diagnosed with a mental health issue to benefit from seeing a counselor. Many people seek help for everyday concerns: relationship problems, job stress, self-doubt, or help achieving their goals. Others turn to counselors during difficult times, such as for grief after a death or divorce.

While seeking professional help from a counselor is obviously valuable in intense, overwhelming, or complicated situations, it’s also an incredibly beneficial tool to help build positive mental health habits — even if nothing is “wrong.” Having this preventative care mindset can help you keep your emotional well-being top of mind and process your concerns before they become problems. Continue reading How Mental Health Counselors Help Change Your Life

6 Questions You Need to Ask Before Committing to Someone

Couple holding each other

After countless swipes left and right (mostly left), blind dates, speed dates, awkward dates, always-only-first dates, you’ve met someone you think is wonderful — and he or she seems to think you’re wonderful back. Eventually, neither of you wants to live without each other, so you’re ready to go all in and make a firm commitment.

This is exciting, but it can also be terrifying. After all, finding and committing to the right partner is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your lifetime. To make sure you don’t lose yourself in the butterflies and giddiness — and instead create a foundation that’s grounded in an understanding that will guide you and your partner throughout your relationship — it’s essential to ask your partner and yourself some questions before taking the next step. Continue reading 6 Questions You Need to Ask Before Committing to Someone

7 Ways You Can Help Raise Mental Health Awareness

three happy people

Millions of Americans are affected by mental health conditions every year. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. — 43.8 million, or 18.5 percent — experiences mental illness in a given year; and we know this is increasingly an issue with America’s youth.

While there are effective treatments available, many individuals with known mental health issues never seek help from a professional due to stigma, discrimination, a lack of resources, or a combination of all three. Even if you don’t struggle with mental illness, you have the opportunity to inspire others to raise awareness and take part in the sharing of information, tools, and support for mental health issues. You can make a legitimate difference and help change the narrative from negative to one of positive affirmation. Continue reading 7 Ways You Can Help Raise Mental Health Awareness