Blog

Paying Attention to Kids’ Online Behavior

Sep 23, 2017 in Hot Topics

Sometimes, it can be hard to keep up with social media and what is being portrayed to your children online. There are constantly new trends and new social media sites that change right as you are getting caught up. Even if it is a challenge, young people need online supervision.

 

When kids know their parents are not tech savvy, or know they do not have social media accounts, they are more likely to make poor choices online. When they know their parents are watching, they will be more careful about what they post and who they interact with.

Aside from concerns about what your child may be posting, you have to also take into consideration the images they are being exposed to. Many young children can get the impression that they are required to look a certain way to be happy. They may not even realize the impact it is having on their self esteem. Another important thing to note is this does not just apply to young girls. Boys can have the same pressure that girls do in terms of body image and expectations.

Also, for both boys and girls, social media ideals can give a false sense of what love and a relationship looks like. This can lead to unrealistic expectations of their partner, and ultimately leaving unhappiness and loneliness.

 

Not only should you as a parent have an account on every platform they are on, you should try and monitor it as much as possible. This means if you see activity that is alarming to you, talk to them about it. Also talk with them about body image and how stuff online really is unrealistic sometimes. Tying into that, give them a positive and fair outlook on relationships and love and what they are really like and not what social media makes them look like.

Defining Wants from Needs

Sep 16, 2017 in Blog From The Experts, Hot Topics

There are few things that are truly necessities to us. However, there are a lot of things that feel like necessities. How do we define what we really need? How can we avoid overindulging and wasting money?

 

Many people are accustomed to a certain type of lifestyle. We live in a very privileged country where we have the freedom to buy, wear, and own almost anything we could want. Aside from the obvious necessities (food, water, shelter) what do we really need? While it varies for everyone depending on if they have kids, how they like to live, and how much income they have, we still all have similar needs.

An important thing everyone should have access to are things like toiletries or bathing products, medications (prescribed or over the counter), and clothing. The list usually would go on and on, but where do we draw the line? Are things like perfume, a pair of shoes in every color, and beauty products actually needed? Of course not. However, there is nothing wrong with having wants.

The only problem is when you put those wants above your needs and spend more than you have. It seems obvious, but it is really easy to simply put something on a card and say “oh I’ll be able to pay for it next week” but what happens when next weeks comes around, and you do that same thing for another want. Then, you are forced to cut into your “need” funds.

 

The bottom line is that setting up a budget for yourself is the best option. Set aside money for what you have to pay for, then you can start to address your wants. Being responsible now, and taking care of the things you have to pay for first is always a good idea, because there is always going to be something you’re just dying to have. Even if you think that you couldn’t possibly want something more than you want that one thing, there is always something else.

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Sep 9, 2017 in Hot Topics

Our lives can become so hectic that we feel like sleep is a luxury, and not a necessity. As much as we try to skimp on sleep, we need it to recharge our brain. Sleep helps our brain to learn and make memories. Insufficient sleep can make us sloppy, forgetful, and cranky.

 

Many people would love to get more sleep, but they feel like they do not have the time to do so. Sometimes, lack of sleep is linked to insomnia. Both situations can be helped.

In order to make enough time for you to get a full night’s rest, avoid naps and set a sleep schedule. You cannot do one without the other. If you are trying to go to bed by 10 pm, but take a nap from 3 pm-5 pm, it will be very difficult to fall asleep.

When it is difficult to fall asleep, we tend to keep checking the time. This can make the whole situation worse by giving us extra anxiety about the sleep we are already missing, in turn making it harder for us to fall asleep, so avoid looking at the clock.

Another very important aspect that can play into the insomnia side of the issue, is your sleep environment. Sleeping while you are too hot or too cold can keep you awake. Also, things such as computers, TVs, or phones can just be distracting. Even if you are not used to it, try sleeping in a dark environment. Before bedtime, schedule about an hour of downtime to help you relax and prepare for sleep. During this time avoid food, and especially caffeine. Sometimes people like to drink tea before bed, not realizing it does have caffeine, which keeps them awake. Opt for a caffeine-free option instead.

After all that, if you find your mind racing at night with thoughts or anxiety for the day ahead, try writing down your thoughts. Staying awake staring at the ceiling will definitely not help you get your full 8 hours. You may find once your thoughts are expressed, your mind is at ease enough to fall asleep.

Small Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle

Sep 2, 2017 in Hot Topics

Many of us want to be more conscious of how we eat, appear, and act, but we may not know how. Here are some simple ways to have yourself on track of living your best life.

 

 

Add One Healthy Meal a Day

 

By simply swapping out one of your three meals for each day with something healthier than what you would have eaten, you can cross one task off your list. As time goes on, introduce more and more healthy options into your regular routine. This way, you will be used to eating healthfully, and it will feel less like a diet.

 

 

Wake Up Earlier

 

Studies done by Harvard biologist Christoph Randler in 2008 found that people who woke up early were more proactive. Participants who were early risers were more likely to agree with statements such as, “I feel in charge of making things happen.” Waking up early can also help you identify and minimize problems. Anecdotally, people who wake up early are more productive and overall feel more productive.

 

 

 Balance Saving and Spending

 

Some people are savers, and some people are spenders. Very few can balance both perfectly. While it is obvious why saving no money is a bad idea, how could saving too much be bad? Well, if you find yourself constantly missing out on anything that your friends and family are doing because you are trying to save, there is a problem. Yes, you could continue living like this, but you will become increasingly unhappy. You need the people who care about you around you. This does not mean going crazy every weekend, but allow yourself to have fun sometimes and work on your relationships.

On the other side, when you turn around from spending too much to saving the right amount, you will find yourself with a new piece of mind. You will know that you can pay all your bills, eat, and prepare for the future.

Procrastination

Aug 26, 2017 in Hot Topics

Procrastination can get the best of everyone. So, how do you break the cycle?

 

 

To start off, you need to identify exactly WHY you are procrastinating. Think of why you are avoiding the task or tasks. Are you simply dreading it? Are you afraid of the results? Once you figure it out, it will be much easier to get started.

Another important tip before you start is to not give yourself too much to do in a day, week, month, etc. Focus on one thing at a time until it is complete, or you do not have the resources to work on it anymore. Keeping a steady workload will keep you from getting overwhelmed. Making a list can be very helpful for particularly forgetful people. Seeing what you need to do, physically written down, can help keep you on track.

The best way to get started is to simply just start. It seems obvious, but getting starting is the hardest part. To motivate yourself, work on a “power hour” where you continuously work for an hour straight with no distractions. Studies have shown that once you start a task, you are much more likely to finish it. If you cannot squeeze in an entire hour, start with a shorter amount of time.

 

Another important thing is to be realistic. Sometimes we put things on out to-do list that we know we will never get around to doing, but we hold out the hope that “maybe one day” will come sooner rather than later. Well, it is time to let go of these things. Keeping these kinds of tasks on your list will just hold you back and make you less productive in the long run.

How do Pets Help with Mental Health?

Aug 19, 2017 in Blog From The Experts, Hot Topics

Any pet owner can share stories of how their beloved animal has helped them through a rough spot in their lives. So, how can they help someone with a mental illness?

 

The benefits go far past the typical “stress reliever” reason. While it is true that looking at your cute furry friend can relieve stress, there are many other components to the aid in your health as well.

 

Research shows that there are many benefits of someone suffering from a mental illness being responsible for a pet. It does not have to be a traditional pet like a dog or a cat either. The routine of being in charge of another life can really give a sense of purpose for people, they may have not had before.

 

Unfortunately, sometimes people do not have the best support system around them, especially for those with mental health issues. Clinicians say that a lot of times when clients are mentioning their supporters, pets often come up. One clinician noted they have had people tell them their pet stopped them from going through with suicidal thoughts, because they know their furry friend depended on them.

 

If you have a pet that you depend on for support, remember that they depend on you too. Taking excellent care of your pets should be something you take pride in. Sometimes, there can be a stigma of going “overboard” taking care of your pets. Give them what you can, and what they deserve. Otherwise, you might not have your furry friend around for as long as you could. The better you treat them, the better they will treat you in return. All their needs fall on your shoulders, so if you have a pet (or are considering having one) make sure you can be responsible enough to give them top notch care.

Taking a Mental Health Day

Aug 12, 2017 in Blog From The Experts, Hot Topics

 

It is easy to get caught up working and falling into a routine, so sometimes we forget about our own well-being. Taking time off work can seem counterproductive when you are already stressed about work, money, and providing for yourself or your family. You could also be worried about what your boss will think about using a sick day or time off for a mental health day.

If we are not physically sick, we tend to feel guilt when we take time off. Luckily, the stigma for mental health is starting to be broken, and these types of days are more widely accepted. In a perfect world, you SHOULD be able to simply tell your boss, “I need a mental health day” and they will understand. However, this is not always realistic. If you feel that your boss will not understand, just tell them you are taking the day off for “personal reasons.”

Be mindful when using mental health days. The rule of thumb is more or less 3 per year. They are meant to be used when absolutely necessary, not just when you want an excuse not to go to work. Also, if you have a big project going on at work that is time sensitive, try not to leave your boss and coworkers in the dust. As soon as it is over, you can take some time for yourself.

 

When to Take Mental Health Days:

  • Your mind is starting to affect your work
  • You are lashing out at the people around you
  • Daily strain is starting to show in all of your other activities

 

When NOT to Take Mental Health Days:

  • You just do not feel like going to work
  • You are in the middle of a big project
  • If you have been taking many over the past few months (there may be a bigger issue than just feeling burnt out from work)

 

You should not have to feel guilty for wanting time to recover from the mundane tasks of everyday life. We have all been pushed to our limits, and grateful when relief came. Do not forget to think of yourself every now and then, because the better shape you are in, the better you can take care of everyone else around you.

The Power of Forgiveness

Aug 5, 2017 in Ask The Therapist, Blog From The Experts

Noha Everetts MA.Ed, LPCC was kind enough to make this handout for the blog all about forgiveness.

 

 

Forgiveness

 

  • What is forgiveness?: “It involves releasing regret, sadness, hurt, fear, blame, guilt, and resentment. It starts by a willingness to let go of the past, refusing to be helpless or a victim and in turn claiming your power.” – Louise Hay
  • Forgiveness can help us with survival in the long run.
  • Research has shown that not forgiving can lead to stress, depression, substance abuse, and cardiovascular health issues.
  • Forgiveness is not something we do for others. We do it for ourselves to get well and move on.
  • Food for thought: Holding on to anger and resentments is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die. Resentment is past focused leaving us stuck in the past.
  • Forgiveness paves the path to healing, helps us let go of pain and is an empowering choice… we choose forgiveness. It can relieve us of a burden.
  • Forgiveness is a present centered act allowing us to be in the present and less rooted in the painful path.
  • Forgiveness takes time and is a process. We must be careful not to ask for or forgive prematurely as it may be incomplete, without relief and cause people to circle back to past. Thus, it is important to recognize the process cannot be forced.
  • Barriers to forgiveness:
    • Attachment to the identity of being wronged or a victim.
    • Not working to take responsibility for anything we may have done to contribute to the situation.
    • Feeling the right to be angry and holding on to it for too long.
    • Not believing the other is truly sorry.
    • Intense emotions of anger, resentment and grief to give us a feeling of power or righteousness.
    • Thinking you are doing it for the other person.
    • Believing if you forgive, then it is forgotten (this is not supported by research) and that it cannot be brought up again.
  • Forgiveness does not mean that you accept what they did as a being okay.
  • The process of forgiveness starts with self. We need to allow ourselves to be human without the shame of holding on to guilt.
  • Guilt is generally only useful for 10 minutes. It can help us to learn to respond in different ways. However, hanging onto guilt can turn into shame and become toxic. Forgiving the self can free one up from guilt.
  • The process of forgiveness involves acceptance. Accepting the truth of the act, its painful impact or the “injustice”. However, acceptance does not mean you condone the action. It involves letting any denial or other defenses go.
  • Ask self if there are any gains to hanging on or is it hurting me to hang on.
  • Ways to forgive include:
    • Imagining what it would be like to forgive.
    • Frame it as your informed and empowered choice.
    • Remind yourself that forgiveness is for your benefit, for your own happiness, and that you deserve this freedom.

 

About Noha Everetts MA.Ed, LPCC

 

Noha Everetts has a Masters Degree in Education and Human Development with a focus in Community Counseling from George Washington University. She is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC), an independent license issued for counseling by the state of Ohio. She has completed further training at the Cognitive Therapy Institute. She specializes in working with adolescents and adults in mental health counseling including issues of grief and loss, anxiety and mood disorders, marital and family issues, stress management, and women’s issues. Additionally, she works with couples desiring to improve their communication, adults who need guidance balancing the many roles they have, and those who need more effective parenting strategies for their adolescents. She also uses her skills for mediation services, including shared parenting agreements.

The Fear of Missing Out

Jul 29, 2017 in Hot Topics

As a society, social media is all around us. It is so easy to obsess over what the people around us are doing. On top of that, try being an adult with a busy schedule and no time for yourself. The fear of missing out, or FOMO, can creep up without us being ready for it.

 

Believe it or not, FOMO is an actual term defined as anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website. What can we do about it? While it may not ever go away completely, we can do some self-assuring exercises to ease our anxiety.

 

To better understand FOMO, we have to know where it comes from. Unfortunately, a lot of times it comes from being unhappy. If we feel like we are working a dead end job, are super busy all the time, or like we never get a night out, that fear can creep in very easily. If you are feeling overworked, try taking time out of the day to do something you enjoy. Even if you only have an hour, focus on that one thing, and nothing else. This could be meditating, meeting a friend for lunch, exercising, or spending time with your family. The more secure you are in your actions, the less you will feel left out.

 

Also, know that social media gives a false sense of perfection. Everyone knows that to some degree, but sometimes we can forget. Anyone’s life can look perfect if you take a moment from it, and only look at that.

 

If you are someone who is worried about starting a new job, or another opportunity, and are hesitant because you have a fear of missing out, think about the fact if you were to turn something like that down, you would be missing out on life instead. You do not want to be older and think of all the things you could have done for your future self, but spent it going out and drinking every night. It is all about balance. There are going to be plenty of nights where you do get to go out and have a good time, and on top of that, there are times where you will have to stay in and be responsible. Both are fine choices, just learn when each option is appropriate.

 

There are some things that you will miss out on, but in either situation (going out or staying in) you will be missing out on something. If you do end up having to stay in on a night you wanted to go out, make it still worth your while. Take a bubble bath, watch a movie, cook a nice dinner. Just because you are “missing out” on one opportunity, does not mean you have to miss out on another.

 

 

Preparing Your Kids to Go Back to School

Jul 22, 2017 in Hot Topics

It’s getting to be that dreaded time of the year again: back to school. Getting your kids back on a routine can be a bit of a challenge. Here are some tips to get them readjusted.

 

 

Don’t Wait 

 

The longer you wait to get your kids back on track, the harder it will be for them to adjust. At the same time, you do not want to take away from their summer, so when is the right time? A week before the first day of school, start having your kids go to bed and wake up at a normal time. The first few nights may be rough, but they will soon become adjusted.

 

 

Give Them Incentive

 

Chances are, if they have been staying up all night and sleeping in all day for the past three months, they are not going to love the idea of having to follow a schedule. Make a deal with them that if they go to bed on time, then you can do something fun during the day. That way, if they do not wake up or go to bed on time, they will miss out on the fun activity. This incentive can either be an outing or you buying them something they have wanted. Obviously it would be hard to do this every day of the week, so you can either find something small to do each day, or at the end of the week before school starts reward them. It could also be something with little or no cost, such as making them their favorite dinner.

 

 

Go Shopping for School Supplies/Clothes

 

Right before the beginning of school, stores often have good sales on school supplies and clothing. Taking your kids to get the things they need for the start of the year can be a great way to get them excited for the year. If you have multiple children, and have the time, try taking each child individually. This way it gives you two time to yourselves, and then you can talk about the upcoming school year to get a sense of worries, excitement, etc.

 

Overall, going to school is something they have to do. It will make things much easier if they are prepared and ready to take on the year.