How to Stay Balanced During Major Life Changes

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If there’s one thing that’s inevitable in life, it’s change. Sometimes those changes are small, but every once in awhile they’re major — think marriage, divorce, loss of a loved one, a new job, having children, going back to school, or buying a house. These transitions often uproot our world, sometimes in ways we aren’t prepared for or don’t want to deal with.

For all the pain, uncertainty, or joy these major life changes bring into our lives, there’s no doubt they can take a toll on our mental health as we try to navigate our way through uncharted territory.

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Our Relationship Expert Gets Real With Your Questions About Love

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Relationships are complex, and require a great amount of effort between two people, one or both of which may be working through mental health challenges. We recently asked Talkspace Instagram followers to share their burning questions about relationships, specifically in a mental health context.

Talkspace’s relationship expert, clinical psychologist Iris Reitzes, PhD, kindly lent her expertise to help answer your important questions.

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How To Maintain Independence While in a Relationship

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Friends and media tell us about breakups where people emerge with no sense of self. Who am I now that I’m single? Healthy relationships thrive on both partners being able to maintain a clear sense of self, especially when it comes to their most fundamental needs and desires. Even knowing this, however, it’s still easy to accidentally find yourself giving more to the relationship or your partner than is ultimately sustainable.

We can wear ourselves out in relationships through the best intentions and desire, and so often it’s because we want what a loving relationship promises — love and acceptance — that we’re willing to give up our own independence and perspective in order to have it.

With this in mind, it’s important to ask — how can you maintain your independence while in a relationship?

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4 Ways to Stop Obsessing About Your Relationship

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For many people, obsessing over various aspects of our lives is quite common. For some, we chalk it up to our perfectionist mindset or Type-A personality; for others, they blame their OCD.

Regardless of the reason or frequency, obsessive thought patterns can negatively affect our day-to-day activities, routine, and — most importantly — our relationships.

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Why Feeling Your Anger is Good for You

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Hell hath no fury like me in a political argument. My heart pounds. My breath speeds. My face reddens. I look like I just worked out, but that sweaty, vibrant flush is pure, righteous anger.

Wise people throughout human history have taught us to beware the excesses of anger. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and ancient Greek philosophy all provide some choice wisdom on the subject. Science bears these teachings out. Frequent, intense, or prolonged anger causes physical and psychological stress, increasing our risk of committing intimate partner violence, getting into a car crash, abusing drugs, and even suffering from heart disease.

Anger is also associated with several mental illnesses, like Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder, and can exacerbate the symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Yet there’s another body of evidence, which indicates that not all anger is bad. Indeed, psychologists argue that in moderate doses, anger can: motivate us, make us more creative, deepen our relationships, help us advocate against social ills, and inspire us to pursue our goals.

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8 Red Flags to Look Out for When Dating

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We’ve probably all experienced — and ignored — red flags while dating. It’s so easy to get swept up in the novelty and excitement of seeing someone new that we’re blind to the not-so-great things going on.

It’s one thing if you’re just looking for someone to casually hook up with — but if you want a real relationship, if you want things to get serious and take things to the next level, you need to be willing to take a step back, wipe the hearts out of your eyes, and get real.

Here are 8 red flags you should look out for if you’re trying to make something blossom into a serious relationship.

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Why Gossip is So Seductive (and How to Avoid It)

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Gossip is like the junk food of communication. We know that it is bad and unhealthy, but it’s hard to resist its draw. It is rude and unkind, and of course it’s always terrifying to think that something you said could get back to the person you were gossiping about.

Knowing all of its downsides, why is gossip still so hard to resist?

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7 Types of Friends Who Are Bad for Your Mental Health

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Lucy and Ethel. Bert and Ernie. Romy and Michele. Where would we be without our friends? Nowhere good, we’re told. A lot of the science on friendships and health focuses on how good friends produce happy, mentally well-adjusted people. After all, our friendships are some of the most valuable relationships we have. We often talk to friends in confidence about things we wouldn’t discuss with our families. Our friends may annoy us, but they can also keep us going.

But other evidence increasingly suggests that bad friends, or even well-intentioned ones with bad habits, can negatively impact your mental health. This causes your mind and body severe stress or leads to problematic patterns. A recent University College London study found that close relationships that cause stress or worrying may even contribute to faster cognitive decline as you age.

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Is it Possible (or Necessary) to Get Relationship Closure?

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Closure is a relationship trope that we often see play out in blockbuster movies. When a couple breaks up, we often see the partners individually (and often collectively) try to seek what they call “closure.” In many scenarios, it is depicted as light-hearted and funny, but if you’ve lived through a breakup yourself, you know the process of getting closure can be painful.

We see this desire for closure play out in our own relationships when we experience a separation or break up. When a relationship ends, we are sometimes left feeling heartbroken and often confused. In an effort to make sense of such a horrible disruption, we seek understanding. We seek comfort and solace. We seek closure.

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