How different would your life be if you chose to live the rest of your days on Earth as your authentic self? By that, I mean you made the conscious and courageous decision not to wait until you die to “shed your costume.” Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse wrote a book that really puts this concept into perspective, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. Ware, spent many years of her life working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. Through this journey she recorded the top five most common regrets we have at the end of our lives.
Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
"This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it."
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
"This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
"Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
"Often, they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks, and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying."
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."
If there is one thing that Wares journey has taught us all, it’s that, living a life to please others and gain their approval costs us more in the end than we can afford. When we’re nearing the last days of our life, what others thought of us will be the last thing on our minds. So, live out loud, embrace who you really are, make time for family and friends, express your feelings, dream, and ultimately give yourself permission to be happy.
Men are significantly less likely than women to seek healthcare of any kind, including therapy. Men’s Health Awareness Month is all about increasing understanding and awareness about men’s health issues to help encourage men to seek treatments to maintain their health and wellbeing. In this month’s blog, we’re going to talk a little bit about how beneficial therapy can be for men by addressing some of the common misconceptions about therapy for men.
Mental Health Doesn’t Require Treatment
Mental health is health, and when you’re struggling, it’s perfectly okay to seek treatment from a professional. If you had a physical injury, you wouldn’t just ignore it until it got better on its own (at least we hope not!), and you shouldn’t forego treatment for mental health concerns either.
You Should Take Care of it on Your Own
Some people seem naturally more resilient and capable of managing (or ignoring) difficult mental health concerns on their own. It’s important to know that you don’t have to take care of everything alone. Therapy can help you process past issues, learn skills and strategies to better navigate present challenges, and set and achieve goals for your future.
Real Men Don’t Need Therapy
Mental health issues don’t discriminate based on gender, but statistics indicate men may be at great health risk when they choose to forego necessary mental healthcare. Men are four times more likely than women to die from suicide. Therapy can help men to process mental health concerns, like depression and substance use disorders, that are often contributing factors associated with suicidal ideation.
You’re Weak if You Talk to a Therapist
It takes strength to admit that you need help and be willing to do the hard work of therapy to heal and grow as a person. Weak people refuse to change and avoid work to improve, so you could say the truly weak people are the ones who refuse to work with a therapist to achieve their goals.
You’re Broken if You Need Therapy
Maybe we’re all a little broken. In his book, A Farwell to Arms, Ernest Heming, a famous man’s man, wrote, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” Whether or not you’re broken now, really isn’t what you should be worried about. Instead, consider whether or not you’re going to do the work to heal and become stronger at the broken places.
When You’re Ready, We’re Here to Talk
Listen, even if you’re well aware of all these facts, we understand that it might be difficult for you to take the first step and call Greater Houston Counseling Services for therapy. It can be difficult for anyone to take this step, but when you’re ready, our knowledgeable therapists are here to talk. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to schedule a men’s therapy session in our Kay, Cypress, or Spring, TX office locations. We look forward to hearing from you soon!
Mental Health Awareness Month is celebrated every May, and this year, it feels more important than ever. Whether you’re dealing with added stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic, trauma caused by the current violence being perpetrated against people of color, or you’re experiencing anxiety due to financial instability, caring for your mental health is more important than ever. This Mental Health Awareness Month, we encourage you to take time for yourself and support your loved ones and community members who are taking steps to care for their mental health.
Why is Increased Awareness About Mental Health Important?
Have you ever heard the saying “knowledge is power?” It absolutely is. The more awareness and understanding people have about mental health and therapy, the more likely they are to seek care for themselves, encourage others to seek appropriate therapeutic intervention, and help to change thinking about mental health. Increasing awareness about mental health can also help to keep those who do struggle with mental health concerns safer because they feel confident seeking help before their issues are very severe.
What’s the Difference Between Mental Health Awareness & Advocacy?
While awareness months like Mental Health Awareness Month are essential to start changing the way people think about mental health, the goal should always be move beyond awareness to true advocacy. You should think of advocacy as awareness in action. When you become aware of underlying issues, you are better suited to begin advocating to make real change and further spread awareness. If you’re learning more about mental health this May or you’ve experienced the benefits of therapy, consider sharing information with others through social media outlets or by chatting with your friends and loved ones in person about your own mental health journey.
What Kind of Thinking Needs to Change to Reduce Stigma Surrounding Mental Health?
The stigma surrounding mental health is deep seeded, but it’s time to start changing the problematic thinking that increases stigma. Some of the incorrect thinking surrounding therapy and mental health include:
Visit the Greater Houston Counseling Services Team
Whether you’re looking to start or restart therapy this month, the Greater Houston Counseling Services team is here to support you. Reach out any time to learn more about what we have to offer and schedule a visit with one of our knowledgeable therapists.
International Women’s Day is a time for women to unite and support each other. Motherhood is a really important part of many women’s lives, so as we come together in support of gender equality, it’s vital that we talk to each honestly other about the struggles of being a mom. A lot is expected of us, and with all of the challenges we face as mothers, knowing we have a system of support can make a huge difference. Keep reading to learn a little more about the importance of talking about perinatal and maternal mental health and how therapy to help you become the best version of yourself will also help you be a great mother for your children.
Why It’s Important to Talk About Perinatal Mental Health
On National Women’s Day, women have an opportunity to come together and offer each other support, and that includes moms offering each other support. Too often, moms feel like they need to go it alone or that asking for help means they’re not good parents. Actually, asking for help may be the best way to be a great mom. The truth is that millions of women every year struggle at some point as they become a mother from conceiving, carrying, or delivering a child to adoption or fostering, blending families, and parenting in general. That’s why it’s so important to talk about perinatal mental health. When new moms realize they’re not alone, they may feel brave enough to reach out and receive the support they need to be great parents. Whether you’re a birth, adoptive, foster, or step-mom, you are an important part of your child’s life, and making the decision to prioritize your health and wellness is also a decision to prioritize your child.
The Benefits of Therapy for Perinatal Mental Health & Wellness
For women in need of support to improve perinatal and maternal mental health, therapy offers a range of benefits, including:
Work with the Greater Houston Counseling Services Team
If you’re considering therapy for perinatal mental health, we would love to hear from you. At Greater Houston Counseling Services, many of our skilled therapists work with expectant and new moms. If you’re struggling with the transition to motherhood or having other difficulties related to being a mom, please reach out to get started with therapy sessions in one of our three Houston area practices.
We’re starting a saying around the Greater Houston Counseling Services office about new year’s resolutions, “Everyone’s got one and they’re all going to be forgotten by February.” Jokes aside, most people give up on their new year’s resolutions the moment life gets busy because they don’t have specific goals or measurable outcomes to achieve. If you’re really interested in making a change in 2021, consider creating a new year’s resolution that’s SMART. This acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. People who set SMART goals are much more likely to achieve them, so keep reading to learn more about how you can make SMART new year’s resolutions in 2021.
If your new year’s resolution is to get healthier, to make this resolution specific, you need to define healthier. What does it mean to you? Instead of simply saying I want to get healthier in 2021, you may set a goal to lose a certain amount of weight, exercise more often, or change your eating habits.
Once you set a specific goal with defined terms, you need to decide how you’re going to measure your success. If healthier means that you’re going to exercise more often, how do you know that you’ve achieved your goal? Will you be able to lift more weight, run farther or faster, or get up the stairs to your office without breaking a sweat? What result do you want to see once you’ve achieved your resolution?
You want to set goals that are challenging but achievable. Continuing the getting healthy example, if your “measurable” goal is that you want to lose a certain amount of weight, in order to make this measurable goal attainable, you need to set a weight loss goal that makes sense and can be safely achieved. Physicians usually recommend that people don’t try to lose more than one to two pounds each week. So, your attainable goal shouldn’t exceed this, and ideally, you would set a weight loss goal or other resolution that may impact your health with a physician.
Relevance is all about what a resolution means to you. Continuing the getting healthy example, this resolution may seem relevant to you, but if there’s no real “why” to the resolution, you’re unlikely to stick with it. We could all stand to be healthier, but you’ll have a better chance of achieving your goals if you set a resolution that is personally relevant to you. Being healthier may be beneficial, but why? What are the stakes if you’re not healthier? Instead of saying simply, “I want to get healthier this year,” consider the purpose of your resolution. My family has a genetic predisposition for diabetes. I don’t want to develop diabetes, so I’m going to start reducing my sugar consumption. Creating context and relevance for a resolution means you’re more likely to stick with it.
Without time constraints, you are much more likely to procrastinate or just forget about the resolution. So, instead of saying, “I’m going to get healthy this year,” set a timely goal like. “I’m going to swap fruit for desserts for two months.”
Partner with a Therapist to Achieve Your Resolutions
Many people think of working with a therapist as something to do after receiving a specific diagnosis or during a serious life crisis. Actually, therapy can be a great option when you’re trying to make any kind of change or navigating a challenging life situation – no diagnosis required. If you really want to set some new year’s resolutions and work to achieve them, talking with a therapist can offer accountability and support. If you’re interested in finding out more about the role of therapy in helping individuals achieve their goals, The Greater Houston Counseling Services team would love to hear from you. Reach out to us today to get started.
The holiday season is meant to be filled with friends, family, food, and fun. This year, your holiday season may look a little different. A spike in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases means that many people are foregoing holiday gatherings, and families are still struggling with the stress of schooling in the home, working from home, and not having the ability to safely reach out to their family and friends for support. It can be hard to imagine giving up all your favorite holiday traditions on top of the added stress that 2020 has given you. Whether the holidays have always been a source of stress for you or you’re worried about the challenges this year will bring, the Greater Houston Counseling Services team is here to remind you that you’re not alone, and there are still plenty of great ways to have a happy, healthy 2020 holiday season.
Take a Breath
Many people overdo it at the holidays. You may have a little extra time away from the office, but that doesn’t mean you need to be working overtime on holiday preparations and festivities. This year, more than ever, we all need to give ourselves a little grace and make time for rest and relaxation. That all starts with taking a deep breath. If you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or tired, take a few deep breaths and give yourself permission to take a break.
Make New Traditions & Remake Old Ones
Even if you can’t throw a huge gathering for family and friends or go to crowded community events, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the holidays this year. Some ways you can make new holiday traditions and remake old ones include:
Have Small Holiday Parties (Emphasis on the Plural)
The big holiday party may be out, but maybe you can substitute a few small gatherings. Hosting small gatherings of less than ten people may be a good option, allowing you to maintain social distancing throughout the get together. Then, make sure to clean and sanitize surfaces after your guests leave.
Practice Good Self-Care
Finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Staying healthy means making good decisions about how to spend your holidays, but it also means making time to take care of yourself by eating healthy meals, staying hydrated, and getting plenty of sleep. If you struggle with the complex emotions and stresses that often arise at the holidays, consider including a visit with a therapy professional at Greater Houston Counseling Services as part of your holiday 2020 self-care plan.
Visit Greater Houston Counseling Services
If you’re struggling during this holiday season or just in general, the Greater Houston Counseling Services team is here for you. We offer flexible therapy options for individuals, couples, and families. With a team of knowledgeable counseling professionals in our three Houston area practice locations, just about anyone can find a clinician who’s a good fit to help them achieve their therapy goals. Don’t hesitate to reach out when you’re ready.
As a mother of 3 kids, I have so many concerns for this 2020-2021 school year. Do I send my kids school for onsite learning or do I join the virtual learning movement? Just like most parents in America this school year will bring so many difficult decisions to make. Virtual learning is at the top of the discussion right now, as it should be. It challenges the traditional methods of teaching and provides a safer academic option during the pandemic. Arguably it is also challenging for parents who are not tech savvy as well as it is bringing new obstacles for lower income families.
Ultimately, we must remind ourselves that we are doing the best for our kids. As parents we sit and think about how difficult making the right decision is. We take into consideration not only their academic success, but the societal expectations we face as parents. We selfishly get wrapped up in how hard it is for us to make these decisions for our kids we forget to take a moment and think, “what about our kids?”. They have concerns just like we do, they are after all in school 10 months out of the year. We want their feelings and concerns to be acknowledged and validated. Sometimes sitting down as a family and really laying out all the pros and cons for the family to discuss can bring a new perspective to the decision-making process. It is important that we don’t lose ourselves in the chaos of this pandemic, that we remain united as a family to weather the storm. Whichever decision you may choose, it will be the right one because only you and your child know what you both can handle.
Through it all, we must take a minute to breathe. Schools districts, medical professionals and government officials are doing what they can to make sure that every student and teacher will remain safe. They are allowing the parents to decide if they want their child to return to school, have virtual learning or hybrid learning. Companies are also stepping up by offering help to families that may need a computer, internet and meals for kids while they are at home during the pandemic. Although at moments we feel the isolation from quarantine and social distancing, we have so many resources and help from our community and people in our very same situation.
We are surrounded by resources. You can contact your school district to see what help is available to families during this pandemic. If you’re not sure how to do at home virtual learning or how to set up your home to feel more like a learning environment, you can always watch YouTube videos on “How to do Virtual Learning” or search Facebook for veteran homeschooling moms tips and advice on how to make at home learning run smoothly. Pinterest is also a great source of information from so many moms who have used this platform as a starting point on how to set up learning spaces in their homes. Who knows, maybe you could start your own YouTube channel or Live Facebook feed to help other parents that are now in the same boat you once were. We are surrounded by resources we just need to do our homework and figure out what works best for your family.
It takes a village to raise a child so reach out to your family, friends, coworkers, or your kids friends’ parents to see if they may have any tips or advice. With everyone helping and sharing tips/advice we can ensure we are providing our kids with the best learning solution for this school year.
The world today is a world that will be changed forever and COVID-19 will most likely be a part of our history that we will teach about for years to come.
We now live in a world today where a single cough, or a sneeze or the mere thought of being in a room with someone who appears to be unwell brings about a great deal of anxiety and fear. Bulk buying has become a standard norm now and being in public outside the home amongst people can be frightening too.
With such uncertain times that we are facing, its truly an important time to slow down or stop what we are doing and reflect. We are all as a nation being asked by mother nature to stop and halt and reflect on life for a moment in our hectic busy lives. Families are now today having to spend extended periods of time with each other as places of employment and schools have closed rapidly. New routines have had to be adopted as all children across the nation have transitioned to online schooling, which can have its fair share of challenges as parents are also still working from home too. Everything has changed so rapidly over the span of the last month. The current situation has really made the world wake up to a new reality and an understanding of how little control we really have of the situation and circumstances that we are in.
However, there are some things that we can control. We can control our thoughts and our reactions to the new reality that we are currently facing. Remember to breathe and put things into a calm perspective. It is important to remember that judging by past historical events, negative situations such as this never remain and the situation always resolves and improves. It’s important to also remember to look for the silver lining in every situation too.
We now have time to get back to basics and engage in activities such as playing board games and having meaningful conversations with family members without the time crunch of having to rush to be somewhere or just simply sharing a family meal together.
Here are some options for activities that can help maintain some degree of peace and normality during these difficult times:
- Going for walks locally
- Watching a movie together
- Listening to music as a family
Spending quality and meaningful time with kids and teens as well as having conversations regarding the current news is much needed too. Remaining optimistic and hopeful with your family members is so vital. Mother Earth is (as described by many today) “resetting things” so that soon enough calm and normality will resume as we once knew it.
Please do take a moment to breathe and remain calm, knowing that all will be well again soon enough.
We are now in a new decade! It’s almost like we ended one chapter in our life and began another in 2020.
Many of us find that at some point approaching the end of a year and when beginning a new one, we do reflect back and reminisce on all the great things that we have achieved and the failures that we endured. Knowing and understanding that the failures that we encountered in life are simply life’s lessons that we go through and that we can always take positive steps to make the situation better. Reflecting back on the last decade can also be a good thing too as it can also encourage us to think about the future and what life goals we would like to achieve. The beginning of a new decade is also a great time to actually assess where we are in life and where we would like to be a decade from now.
So how do you go about creating these new goals?
Well first things first. It’s important to actually visually see your goals written in an easy format and visible to you often. So maybe on a refrigerator or maybe on a notice board at home in your office. But somewhere you can see them now and again.
So grab a pen and paper and start thinking about your life.
Then start listing categories which are important to you in your life. Such as family, kids, career, vacations, your home, finances, education etc
Then next to each important category, write down in a single sentence what you would like to achieve with each of the important things in your life in the next year. Again its important to make these goals achievable and doable.
Then after considering each important goal you wish to achieve in the next year, consider what goals you would like to achieve with each of the categories in the next 3 years and five years even!
Once you have done that, consider next how and what measures you are going to take to bring about these new goals that you have created for yourself.
Just remember that creating new reachable goals is the key to succeeding in future goals that you create for yourself. Small achievable goals are best.
Setting your sights on very ambitious goals which are sometimes hard to achieve can result in people giving up and not sticking to them.
So remember, the key is to reflect on key points that are important to you, and to think how are you going to make those points better in your life better.
It’s wonderful way to reflect on one’s life and to create a positive outlook for yourself.
Talking to a therapist can also help you maintain and keep on track with your goals for the year too!
Here’s to sending you the very best wishes and success in your life goals for the year!
Managing Triggers that the holiday may bring.
Holidays are a time when family members often make an effort to set aside time for the family. Spending extended time together that involves family traditions, gift giving and other holiday festivities can be a wonderful time to connect and catch up with each other. But for some, getting together with family can create stress and anxiety. There are many reasons why people do not look forward to holidays. Some examples are certain family members just not being able to connect well with each other, or past unresolved conflicts that haven’t been laid to rest, or even negative memories or experiences in a childhood home can all potentially create stressful situations during a time that should be enjoyed. Some parents of young children in a family can also be made to feel very uncomfortable especially when there is a need to discipline children because different members of the family may judge or have differing opinions as to how to better or effectively parent a child.
There are fortunately some things that you can do to possibly minimize the anxiety and stress during the festivities.
Have smaller get togethers
As opposed to having large numbers of relatives gather together in one home on a set day, maybe take turns visiting with smaller groups of family members in their home for the holidays. This may actually be more intimate and reduce the chances of conflict with certain family who don’t get on.
Have smaller gatherings in your own home
By having family or friends over at your home, you can actually decide who to invite over at any time, thus avoiding unnecessary conflict. This way, you are more in control of who you are interacting with at any given time which can allow for a much more enjoyable time.
Know that there may be some conflict
Having a sense of acceptance that there may always be some degree of conflict during the holidays with some family may be a wise thing. Just knowing that some people will always be awkward no matter what you say or do. Take it with a grain of salt if possible and appreciate them for the good qualities that they have.
Plan a fun or creative thing to do when together with family
Even though typical family events usually involve having a festive meal and conversation together, maybe start a new trend amongst your family and friends by doing something completely different! For example, dinner and a movie at the movie theatre or going to see a live show or performance together. Or you can do something charitable by volunteering at a local church or event as a family together. This could quite possibly take the pressure off conflicting family members and allow everyone to focus their attention on something new and different other than being unkind to one another.
No matter how you handle the unavoidable holiday family get togethers always aim to stay calm, take time out for yourself if needed, and know that there are some personalities that cannot change but you love and care for them anyway.
Happy holidays! 😊