Welcome to the blog page of Greater Houston Counseling Services and a special 3 part blog mini series on Women’s Health.
Women through their lives can unequivocally go through so many changes through the years. Relationships, marriages, pregnancy, motherhood, juggling motherhood and work life are just a few of the challenges that women face daily. Some women are able to breeze through these challenges with ease but for the most part, it can be a stressful balancing act.
This 3 part mini series will be looking at the following topics pertaining specifically to women.
Work life Balance in women
There are many women today in successful careers who are working hard and climbing up their chosen career path ladder. They are usually financially successful and work long hours to prove their dedication and expertise in the companies they work for or the businesses they run. But when trying to find a harmonious balance between a working woman and a husband and children entail, it can be very stressful and challenging. Being able to give 100% to your family and your career can prove to be difficult and sometimes we may feel like we are being pulled in too many directions and that expectations put upon us drain us mentally, emotionally and physically. This could end up putting a huge strain on our marriages, family life and our careers.
The key to balancing your home life and work life is to organize, prioritize and delegate where possible and allow one to one time in the day or week for loved ones.
Some key pointers that you can implement to create harmony and balance in life are as follows:
Summers finally here! The stresses and strains of daily school are finally over and kids now have time to relax and enjoy summer. This lengthy period of time out of school is a great way for parents and kids to take that long awaited vacation. Or for kids to enroll in some exceptionally cool and unique summer camps which has become
an increasingly popular thing over the years.
Some kids however see the summer as a time to indulge in the maximum amount
of screen time as soon as school is out to the time they go back for the new school year. It can for some parents pose as a real challenge creating a happy medium between unplugging and plugging the gaming consoles, smartphones and tablets these days.
Here are a few tips that you could implement to create some healthy habits for your kids:
Creating healthy technology limits for kids early in their lives is so important. By doing so parents can prevent future issues for kids such as gaming and screen time addictions.
Studies in the past have shown the success to happy and lasting marriage is putting your spouse first. As crazy as it may sound, it is the truth that many are scared to hear. Everyone wants a happy marriage, but not everyone wants to put the work to get there.
Life changes when you start having children. From the long sleepless nights to days full of joy, but your marriage should only get stronger as the both of you have created a beautiful blessing. Here’s 2 tips how you can have a successful marriage.
Prior to becoming parents as a couple you should build a foundation that can never be broken. The best gift you can give your children is raising them through a strong and healthy marriage. That starts off by setting boundaries. Boundaries are one of the most important things in marriage. From the start of your relationship you must create boundaries that should never be crossed. Always treat each other with respect. Treat your spouse the way you would like to be treated. You should always talk to each other with love and find healthy ways to communicate.
Simply put your spouse first
Always put your spouse first, this doesn’t mean you have to choose between your child's well being and your marriage. Instead, it means taking the time to intentionally and actively invest in your relationship with your spouse, knowing that when you and your spouse are connected, you are better parents.Also keep in mind you started this journey with each other alone, and once your kids turn 18 and leave off to college, your spouse will be the only one left. Your kids are only with you for a couple decades until they decide to start their own family, you chose your spouse to be with them forever. You must give your marriage the attention and effort it deserves. Don’t ever forget why you chose them to be your partner in life, and don’t ever stop dating your spouse.
The moment we have a child, our world changes and our entire focus is on them. We slowly but surely start putting our marriage aside, because who has time or energy to even think about going on a date right? We’re sleep deprived, tired and every moment we get to ourselves we utilize it to clean, cook, do laundry, etc. Both parents must make the time to continue to spend time together alone. Even if it means waiting until the baby falls asleep to have a movie night in the living room with your spouse on a Friday night. Always make sure some time is being spent alone. Children grow up to be the reflection of their home, wouldn’t you want your children to marry someone who's always going to put them first?
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, love is in the air (and on the brain and in the heart). But it’s not just a good time to show that special someone how much he or she means, it’s also an important time to invest in self-love. Whether it’s actually learning to accept one’s self or remembering to put one’s self first in the care department, self-love maximizes one’s capacity to love those around him or her and has a dramatic effect on all of an individual’s relationships.
What ‘Does It Mean to Love Yourself?
The common idea of self-love is actually closely related to self-esteem and the idea that an individual who has positive beliefs toward him or herself and values self as a person is more capable of successful, healthy relationships. While self-esteem is a part of loving one’s self, there is more to it than that. In fact, recent research has found that a different form of self-love, known as self-compassion, is actually more indicative of one’s state of being and capacity toward both romantic and non-romantic relationships.
This form of self-love is largely associated with viewing one’s self with appreciation and acceptance – regardless of any perceived flaws. Self-compassion is also based on recognizing one’s self and not focusing too heavily on negative feelings or emotions. Individuals with strong self-compassion are able to recognize that many others have been in a similar station as they are and tend to develop feelings of happiness, optimism, and life satisfaction even while they may be in a difficult season.
How Does Self-Love Affect Relationships?
The intrinsic quality of self-love is that of being able to recognize one’s connections to other people, so it undoubtedly has positive benefits for any relationship. Not only are individuals with a higher capacity for self-love typically in more successful relationships, a recent study found that these individuals are also:
• More caring
• More supportive
• Less aggressive
• Less controlling
Not only that, but individuals who possess higher levels of self-compassion are better able to resolve conflict, experience more authenticity in their relationships, and enjoy greater levels of relational well-being. So the evidence supports the widely held belief that an individual must learn to love him or herself to love others, but it goes beyond just having high self-esteem.
How Do You Learn to Love Yourself?
Individuals who want to improve their relational capacity should invest in learning this trait of self-compassion, which goes beyond just feeling good about one’s self. And while it’s no easy task, it can be done. For starters, an individual can learn to recognize and appreciate the person he or she is. Seeing one’s self – flaws and all – and accepting that person without judgment is liberating. Beyond this, an individual should attempt to focus on his or her positive qualities and really learn to use the skills and talents he or she has. Doing each of these with some regularity serves as the initial step toward self-compassion and paves the way for further development.
Learning to love one’s self unconditionally is no simple feat and requires specific, intentional work. But with the right mindset and help along the way, anyone can learn to practice self-love and benefit both individually and relationally from doing so – for Valentine’s Day and the rest of the year, too.
Many people mistakenly think that recovery from a domestically violent situation is as simple as leaving the abuser. Unfortunately that is far from the reality that individuals recovering from abuse face. In fact, by the time the individual is able to find physical freedom from the abusive party, he or she is likely in a gridlock of mental and emotional abuse. However, recovery is also possible in this capacity if an individual is able to find the right support system and develop effective coping skills to navigate healing.
What to Expect During Recovery
Recovery in any form is challenging, but it is especially complicated when abuse is involved. Individuals often need to relearn basic interpersonal and relational skills, such as trust and connection, which they’ve lost as a result of the abuse they have endured. Understanding that recovery will take time goes a long way toward helping the individual recover, as does knowing what to expect during recovery. Most individuals benefit from:
• Learning to expect new feelings during the recovery process.
• Understanding the challenges that may complicate recovery.
• Developing coping techniques to facilitate lasting recovery.
Recovering from Domestic Abuse
Recovering from a domestically violent situation requires a multifaceted approach. To begin the process, one must understand that anxiety and fear are to be expected. Many victims of abuse:
• Still hear the voice of their abuser in their head even after leaving.
• Experience extreme anxiety when doing something the abuser condemned.
• Have feelings of sadness and or even a desire to return after leaving the abuser.
• Feel fear and melancholy associated with a place of significance to the relationship.
• Want to maintain a connection to friends or family members of the abuser.
These feelings point to the emotional attachment of the relationship and are normal and to be expected. An individual experiencing these feelings may consider returning to the abusive situation to make the current feelings of fear and pain subside. To be able to remain strong and committed to recovery, the individual needs:
• Refuge that is safe and separate from the abuser.
• Support from a trusted friend or family member.
• Legal support to provide protection and counsel.
• Self-confidence to remain strong and move on.
For many individuals finding each of these components can be difficult. Seeking the counsel of a trusted therapist is often an effective first step toward recovery. A mental health professional can help the abused individual find the resources that he or she needs to begin the recovery process safely and facilitate ongoing therapy to support the individual’s mental and emotional needs. Most individuals recovering from domestic violence process the emotional trauma of the situation in a cyclical fashion that involves several stages:
• Safety and Stabilization
• Remembrance and Mourning
• Reconnection and Integration
• Safety and Stabilization
Working through these stages and processing the emotions associated with each is no easy task. Likewise, there is no timeframe associated with recovery – each individual must allow him or herself the time he or she needs to recover. A confidential healthcare professional can help facilitate the process and help the individual set appropriate expectations of recovery. So while the recovery process looks different for different people, the first step for everyone reaching out and getting help.
It’s that time of year again! The new year is here and comes with many new opportunities. We’re notorious for creating new year’s resolutions for ourselves as individuals, but what about for our relationships? Check out these 5 new year’s resolutions for you and your partner.
1) Put your phone down and plug back into your relationship.
In an era of technology, we all are constantly plugged into our phones. It’s easy to find ourselves checking social media or texting during conversations or down time. Instead of picking up your phone use that time to reconnect with your partner. This is a great opportunity to have a conversation while looking directly at them and maybe even sneak a handle hold in.
2) Have one new adventure each month.
Oftentimes our relationships become bogged down with responsibility and mundane daily tasks. While “adulting” isn’t fun, it’s necessary. It’s also necessary to regularly have new and fun adventures together. Not only does this break up the monotony in your relationship, it also allows you to create fun and exciting memories together. Remember, the couples that play together stay together!
3) Find a new hobby… together.
If you already have an individual new year’s resolutions list, I’m willing to bet there’s a resolution that pertains to a hobby. Hobbies are important to us as individuals as well as couples. Finding a hobby with your partner is an opportunity to share something in common. Consider joining a bowling team, invest in a new gaming system or start exercising together. The more positive things you have in common with your partner the easier it is to find happiness and excitement in your relationship.
4) Set goals together and make a 10-year plan.
Goal setting is always on the top of the New Year’s To-Do list. Have you set any goals for your relationship? Sit down with your partner and agree upon a few measurable and attainable goals to reach in 2019. Take the long-term goals and make them into a 10-year plan. Not only does this create a road map for your relationship, but it also keeps you thinking about the future and makes you more likely to work towards it.
5) Let the past go.
This is one of the hardest things for most couples to do. The bad things we’ve experienced often linger in our minds and can overshadow all of the good things that are happening now. This doesn’t only happen to us as individuals, but also as couples in our relationship. Don’t allow your relationship to be clouded with the gloom of the past. Focus on what’s happening currently and celebrate those things. Take the hard things as they come and don’t let the past influence how you deal with the now.
Implement some of these resolutions and start off 2019 right for yourself as an individual as well as a couple. Happy New Year!
Despite the excitement that comes with the winter months and associated holiday season, it’s normal for individuals to feel a bit down. The cold and darkness have a lot to do with the change in mood that many people feel. And while some may shrug it off as the “winter blues” or “seasonal funk,” there is more to it than that.
What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
A type of depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) typically comes and goes based on the different seasons. The condition often peaks in the dark, cold months of autumn and winter and then subsides in the warmer, brighter months of spring and summer. Regardless, it is a misconception that SAD is a “lighter” version of major depression. Rather this condition is a more specific kind or type of major depression. The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are simply experienced at a particular time of year – with the changing of the seasons – and then subside or go into remission.
The specific cause of SAD is yet unknown. However, research indicates that several factors may contribute to this type of depression. The change in hours of sunlight during the winter months interrupts the natural circadian rhythm, which, in turn, reduces levels of serotonin and melatonin in the body. These chemicals are responsible for regulating mood and sleep respectively and are major contributors to depression.
In most cases of SAD, symptoms start out mild and become more severe with the progression of the season. The most common symptoms include:
• A pervasive feeling of depression most days of the week
• A lack of interest in once enjoyable activities
• A general feeling of low energy or fatigue
• A reoccurring trouble sleeping
• Otherwise unexplained changes in weight or appetite
• A change in ability to concentrate
• A unspecified feeling of hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt
While it is less common, some individuals may experience the opposite pattern of the condition and have symptoms that peak in spring or summer. Regardless, the symptoms are typically the same, as is the progression of symptoms.
Who Is At Risk for SAD?
SAD can affect anyone; however, several factors have been found to increase one’s risk of the condition. The condition is typically diagnosed more frequently in women than men as well as younger adults versus older adults. Additionally, individuals are at an increased risk for the disorder if they:
• Have a family history of the SAD or another type of depression
• Have been diagnosed mental health condition, such as major depression
• Live far from the equator where the differences between winter and summer are even greater
What Are the Best Ways to Manage Seasonal Affective Disorder?
SAD can have a major impact on one’s productivity and day-to-day lifestyle, so it’s important for individuals to find effective ways to manage their condition:
1. Seek light.
As an obvious contributor to SAD, light is also an effective therapy for treating the condition. Because natural light is in such short supply during the winter months, though, a light box may be a necessary management tool. To get the most benefit, individuals should look for a light box that generates at least 10,000 lux of white or blue light.
2. Take vitamin D.
Most individuals get significantly less sunlight during winter, which also affects the amount of vitamin D produced in the body. Getting enough of this important nutrient can also help manage depression. Several foods are naturally rich in vitamin D; however, it is best for individuals struggling with the disorder to take a dietary supplement through the winter months.
3. Get active.
Maintaining a regimen of low-intensity exercise, even as little as 1 hour each week, can offset the fatigue and lethargy that are hallmark symptoms of SAD. Exercise not only boosts endorphins – the feel good chemicals in the body – but it also helps regulate the circadian rhythm and can support better day-night cycles in individuals struggling with SAD.
4. Seek help.
Often individuals struggling with SAD and other forms of depression are tempted to withdraw and avoid seeking personal interaction of any kind. One of the best things individuals struggling with seasonal affective disorder can do, though, is keep in touch with trusted family members and friends and seek help when they need it. This help may also include care from a certified professional who can help establish an effective plan for managing the disorder.
While it is normal to experience an ebb and flow of feelings, especially during the winter months, if it affects one’s ability to live life and maintain a normal routine, it’s a problem. At this point seeking care from a reliable mental health professional can make all the difference.
Though the temperatures are still scolding and the back to school bustle is lasting, the holiday season is just around the corner. Halloween is but a month away, Thanksgiving two, and Christmas three. Funny how time flies, isn’t it?
For plenty, the holiday season is eagerly awaited. Holiday décor is taken from stored away boxes and displayed among the home and work place, the air outside begins to feel cooler and clearer, family traditions are prepared and gatherings are scheduled. On the other hand, it is the family traditions and gatherings that can also bring stress for many. Let’s face it, no family is perfect. And if you ask some, they might declare “not perfect” as an understatement.
Certain family dynamics, histories, damaged relationships and unresolved feelings are an absolute reality of family. And with this, the degree of severity for each ranges. During the regular year, most are able to maintain their daily lives without being greatly affected by their family affairs. During the holiday season, however, individuals are placed in the same room with their lingering stress. They are forced to face what has been disregarded for quite some time. And as one might imagine, this can be difficult.
Usually the question “How do I act like everything is okay when it is not?” surfaces. And as a result, the focus of the holiday season becomes the answer to this question, rather than the holiday season itself. And what we all understand deep down, is that the holiday season stands for far more than the resolution of conflict. It stands to bring us together with the ones we love, whether we are in conflict or not. It stands to embrace tradition. It stands to create fun and excitement. It stands to initiate a step outside of our day to day routine. And more than anything, it stands to build memories for the remaining years of our lives.
So, I know what you are thinking. It is “not that easy” to set aside differences for the sake of the holiday season. But let me state, that is not what is being proposed to you. The challenge being proposed, is rather that you hold onto the joy of the holiday season. It is that you do not replace your joy with a tense effort to heal all wounds and mend all fences. Instead, you hold onto your joy despite all circumstances and dedicate an outside time to the healing of wounds and mending of fences.
In other words, you do not allow yourself to lose sight of what the holiday season truly stands for. And when this challenge appears bigger than you, remember it is not. Remember that you are capable of all things, and that also means holding onto joy when it is not easy. So, believe in yourself, believe in the spirit of the holidays, and believe in the notion that time is precious. As are you. And with the time that is given to you, believe that wounds will be able to heal, and fences will begin to mend.
According to research, anxiety affects as much as 10 percent of children today, making it one of the most common psychiatric conditions affecting today’s children. While no studies have currently been done to determine what portion of those children struggle with school-related anxiety, many experts believe it’s an issue on the rise, even in children as young as preschool-age. That said, more parents than ever before are being faced with the challenge of helping their children cope with school anxiety. It’s no easy task, but understanding the issue and having a few tips to help them manage can ease the burden for everyone involved.
What Is School-Related Anxiety?
Feelings of anxiousness are normal and even expected in children headed back to school. New teachers, new peers, different routines, and pressure to perform are just a few of the stressors that today’s school children face. It’s no wonder that children feel apprehension as a new school year looms near.
However, school anxiety goes a step further than the typical “unease” about the start of school. Anxiety affects the child’s ability to cope with the everyday scenarios and may even become so extreme that the child is unable to perform, attend school, or function as a typical school-age child.
What Are the Types of Anxiety in School-Age Children?
School anxiety generally manifests in one of three ways:
• School refusal – The child refuses to attend school regularly or may have trouble staying in school. Refusal may be accompanied by actual physical symptoms including headache, stomachache, nausea, and diarrhea.
• Test Anxiety – A type of performance anxiety, the child is unable to take tests or perform well on assessments despite adequate preparation and knowledge of the material. Test anxiety may be accompanied by physical, emotional, and behavioral/cognitive symptoms such as headache, stomachache, fear, helplessness, and difficulty concentrating.
• Social Anxiety – The child fears social or performance situations with peers to such a level that he or she may chronically avoid feared situations and/or exhibit behavioral aversions to such situations including tantrums, crying, and shrinking away. The anxiety is severe enough to affect everyday life and lasts longer than six months.
What Causes School Anxiety?
The specific cause of school anxiety is typically tied to the type of anxiety the child is experiencing. However, several common causes of anxiety have been identified including:
• Separation anxiety
• Fear of failure
• Stressful life events
• Social stressors
• History of being bullied
• Lack of sleep
• Academic challenges
• Lack of preparation
What Are the Best Ways to Help a Child Manage School Anxiety?
Regardless of the type or cause of school anxiety, there are several steps parents, caregivers, and even school personnel can take to help children cope with school-related anxiety.
1. Prepare the child early.
Preparing the child in advance can go a long way toward easing fears and reducing anxiety. Preparation may involve talking frequently and positively about the upcoming school year, visiting the school ahead of time, and exposing the child to school-like scenarios.
2. Discuss the child’s concerns.
Anxiety is another one of those instances in which “knowledge is power.” The more a parent or caregiver knows about what is causing the child anxiety, the more he or she can do to help ease the concern. Discussions about the child’s specific fears and concerns can better prepare everyone to face the upcoming school year.
3. Monitor sleep.
Partiularly at the start of the year, lack of sleep can play a significant role in anxiety. Establishing a school sleep routine early and monitoring sleep to ensure the child is getting enough sleep is an effective way for a parent or caregiver to help his or her child proactively manage anxiety.
4. Make a daily plan.
Knowing the plan is important for children with anxiety. Parents can help ease concerns by establishing and sharing the daily plan with the child each morning. The plan should include who will pick be at pick up and drop off as well as any additional plans for the day.
5. Ask for help.
If a child’s anxiety is increasing despite measures to manage it, outside help may be the next step. Parents can speak with the child’s pediatrician or school psychologist for suggestions on how to proceed.
A certain level of anxiety related to school is normal in children. When that anxiety interferes with school attendance and/or performance, though, parents may need to utilize effective strategies to help their children cope. Additional support from school personnel and mental health professionals can also be helpful in easing the child’s fear and helping him or her thrive in the school setting.
Summer 2018 has come and gone within the blink of an eye. For some, it was filled with free time to read or catch up with friends, for a few more, it consisted of family trips and pictures at the park, and for others, it was a mere continuation of to-do lists and organization of schedules. Whichever summer best describes your own, it is now time to welcome the Fall. And the Fall season can look different for all of us as well. Whether it be the beginning of something new, or the return to a familiar routine, it is a transition. And what we can all recognize about transitions, is that they affect us in one way or another. Perhaps it is our sleep schedule that changes, our daytime schedule that shortens or lengthens, our responsibilities that evolve, or beyond. Undergoing any transition is meaningful in that we must recognize the change at hand, adapt to it, and continue moving forward. I don’t know about you, but “going with the flow” of change has never been my strong suit. In fact, I resist change pretty strongly. I remember my senior year of high school when I was accepted into Abilene Christian University, and for weeks during the summer I could do nothing but strut all of my ACU t-shirts and eagerly plan my next four years of independence and adventure. Then, the night before we were planned to make the road trip, I almost got sick in my suit case. When circumstances become unfamiliar, or simply transform, it is challenging for me. I appreciate consistency and knowing exactly what to expect of not only my day, but my future. And once I become comfortable with my circumstances, I desire to stay that way. Some individuals unlike myself, handle transitions miraculously. They are “go with the flow” kind of people, and at times will even seek out change in their lives. In any case, no matter what type of individual we are, change happens. The seasons transition and so must we. What I have learned is that the survival of change does not lie in controlling it, but accepting it. And if it is overwhelming, breathing through it. Much like a relentless migraine, the more tense you become resisting the pain, the more intensely you feel it. But if you relax into the pain, it does not overpower you. As you welcome the Fall season, do not let the transition overpower you. Rather, accept the new season with all it may possess, and take each step with an even deeper breath. There is no rush to any finish line, nor any judge to please. All there is, is the present you have to live in, and your duty to yourself to live in it happily. There is power in your outlook, so look forward with fresh eyes. Say goodbye to Summer, and hello to Fall! And remember all the while, some seasons bring the most beautiful change of all.