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Unrealistic Relationships

Jul 15, 2017 in Hot Topics

We see it all over television and the internet. This idea of a perfect love, a “happily ever after.” But how realistic can it all be?

 

 

 

 

As a whole, society tends to have this idea of what a relationship should look like. We cling to the idea that our soulmate is waiting out there for us. All the imagery of guys always surprising girls with flowers and huge gestures can actually bring us down. We are exposed at a very young age, and it ultimately sets us up for failure. Here’s why:

While romance is nice, and sometimes necessary, it is not a realistic idea to have the couple being perfectly happy all the time, or always making the right choices, or always saying the right thing. The truth is, people mess up. It’s life, we are all human. Thinking that you can get around having conflict in a relationship is very unrealistic. Conflict is not only necessary, but it is helpful. Without any communication, what else do you have? Just two people coexisting. For any relationship for that matter, whether it be a friend or romantic, communication is key. Is it always easy to be open about what you are feeling? No. Is it worth it? Yes.

Another unrealistic expectation (commonly seen in young women) is that their partner should be buying them gifts, taking them on dates, and surprising them with all these cute things. It seems that social media makes things like this worse. When another couple shares pictures or posts about their date or what they did for one another, it can bring the viewer down. It gives a false idea of what the said relationship is like. This does not mean we should not share our cool experiences online, it just means we need to teach teens and young adults that no relationship is perfect, despite what you see on social media. The unrealistic idea can hurt their overall relationship because if their partner does not live up to these expectations, they could become upset.

We need to teach that love is not in the material things, or in what you can share online. It is simply about you and the other person and how you treat one another. Yes, it is okay to spoil each other as often as you would like, but that is not the extent of things. Those gestures should also not just be expected. If you focus on each other over anything else, you both will be happier. Also, the less you compare your relationship to another, the better off you will be. Remember that everyone is different, and your relationship is between you and your partner.

Feeling Burnt Out From Trying to Save Money?

Jul 8, 2017 in Hot Topics

There are always those times in our lives where it is crucial for us to save up our hard earned money. Some people actually enjoy saving, others do not. If you are someone who dreads the frugal months this time can be very stressful. Here are some ways to help you move forward.

 

The first thing you should do to even get started is to set a budget and a goal. Define what money NEEDS to be spent and what money you WANT to be spent.  Obviously essential things like food come first. Chances are, you have some way to estimate how much income you have coming in. Plan on what you know you will make, and do not spend hoping for a miracle. When it comes to rounding the numbers for upcoming payments, always low-ball, that way you are not surprised with a lower than estimated payment that you did not plan for.

Once you have defined your budget, set where you need to be as a goal. It could be to raise a certain amount of money, or to simply reduce your debt. Either way the goal gives you an end point so you do not feel like you are saving for no reason.

 

The whole process can feel like such a drag. If you are used to shopping, spending money on your appearance, or spending on your home, this time can be difficult to adjust to. To avoid breaking down and spending more than you should, set aside a small amount for yourself every time you get paid. Even if it is just $5, this still gives you the power to spend it on whatever you want, and this amount has no restrictions like all your other money at this time.

A good way to make sure you do not accidentally spend more than you wanted to is to carry cash. Whatever the amount you set aside for yourself, it will be easier to go over that said amount if you use a card to pay for it. By carrying cash, what you see is what you get.

 

Accepting this time in your life as one of those “life” moments where you absolutely have to be an adult and suck it up really helps. By forcing yourself to grow up and accept that you have obligations, you will find it easier to accept. Also, keep in mind the more you save now, the less you will have to save later. By reaching your goals, you will feel fantastic at a later date.

After all the saving has been done and your goal has been met, give yourself an end reward. Do not spend more on yourself than you can afford, but the thought of an end reward can be enough to keep you on track.

Work Week Motivation

Jul 1, 2017 in Hot Topics

The world can really feel like a drag when you know you have a really long week of work ahead of you. Here are some tips to make the upcoming days easier.

 

 

 

 

Stay Positive

 

It can be too easy to drudge through the days like you hate everything and everyone. This attitude will never get you that pay raise or promotion you have been hoping for.
Even if it has been the WORST work week, keep the positive thinking high. It can be as easy as thinking, “This job drags on sometimes, but at least I have a job!”

Being thankful during the most stale times can really benefit your attitude and overall outlook on the whole situation. Even if you’re not motivated, stay positive.

 

 

Think About Your Paycheck

 

The thing we forget about, that also happens to be the whole reason we are working, is the paycheck. You could be having the worst day at work and the magical thing is, you still get paid. Even if you do not have any extra spending money because of other responsibilities, remember that regardless of if you have a job or not, those responsibilities will still be there. It is nice to have a paying job that can take cover your them so you do not get behind.

 

 

Save

 

Saving some of your money for something exciting such as a new car or a vacation can really motivate you to want to work. If you have something to work for (rather than just bills) you might be more inclined to want to pick up some extra shifts or work a little later.

 

 

Plan a Fun Weekend

 

Similarly to saving, but on a smaller scale, if you plan a fun weekend you will have something to look forward to. Even if it is just sitting at home watching movies in your pajamas, keep that in the back of your mind. The weekend will feel so much sweeter if you had a busy week ahead of it.

Tips for Helping the Summertime Blues

Jun 24, 2017 in Hot Topics

Each year as the warm weather rolls around, there is always the threat of having the summertime blues. It sounds strange, but it is a real thing and you’re likely to have experienced it in some way.

 

1. Keep a Schedule

 

To keep yourself from getting off track, which will ultimately lead to excessive worry, stick to a schedule. This is even more important if you are in school, or have kids in school. It is easy to stay up too late and sleep in if there is no set structure. Setting a “summertime schedule” will give you structure during the warm months.

 

2. Don’t be Afraid to Miss Out

 

It can seem like all your friends are off on these great vacations and adventures. Even if you can’t go yourself, find ways to make the best of the situation at home. You may have to work, have kids, or have prior obligations. Try to remember that even if you couldn’t go this year, there is always next year where you have more time to plan. All it will do to sit around and be upset about the vacation you didn’t get to go on is bring down your everyday life.

 

3. Spend Time with Friends

 

Even if you can’t go on vacation, still make an effort to spend time with friends. You can still plan to lay out in the sun and enjoy the company. Maybe plan a night out to have fun and do something for yourself. Spending time with positive people you love will overall increase your mood. Learn to let go and live in the moment and still tend to your responsibilities at the same time.

 

4. Drink More Water

 

Too often in the summertime, people neglect to drink water more frequently. They don’t account for the rise in temperature which can make them dehydrated at a faster rate. A little know fact is that the first sign of dehydration is crankiness. To avoid this all together, simply hydrate regularly. If you find drinking water all the time difficult, eat watery foods such as cucumbers or watermelon.

Helping a Loved One With an Addiction

Jun 17, 2017 in Hot Topics

Addiction is not something that has an effect on just one individual, it can harm their families and friends as well. People can be addicted to almost anything, but drug and alcohol addiction remain the most prominent. By educating yourself on the best ways to help a loved one with an addiction, you will give them their best chance.

 

 

Things To Accept

 

Before anything else, you need to realize that there are things you can do, and some that you can’t.

 

What You CAN Do

 

  • Educate yourself

Learn about their addiction to be prepared for the road ahead. Look for signs, treatments, and relapse triggers. Also, educate members of the family as well. It may be hard to talk about, but the less the situation is left in the dark, the better. Find out ways for the entire family to be a part of the treatment with various programs.

 

  • Avoid Enabling

Often, family members will enable an addict because they don’t know what else to do, and feel powerless. They sometimes feel if they don’t do what they addict asks, they may lose them. It is important to not be an enabler as it will just slow the healing process. To avoid this path, set boundaries. For example say something like, “I can’t control what you do every second of the day, but I do not want you to be drunk while in this house.” Make sure after the boundaries are set, you follow through with the consequences. This can be hard, but enabling them will get nowhere.

 

  • Take Care of Yourself

Being responsible for an addict can be physically and mentally draining. However, you can’t give anything if you already gave all you have. Make sure to keep up with your own thoughts and emotions. It is a very common thing for those affected by an addict to seek out counseling as well.

 

 

What You CAN’T Do

 

  • Force Them to Quit

People almost never permanently change just because someone is making them. True growth in a person comes from learning and seeing the natural consequences of their actions. While you or their loved ones being concerned may concern them, often it is not enough to make life change. Trying to make someone quit will just tire you out and take a big toll out on you. Instead, offer help and guidance, but don’t be overly judgmental or accusatory.

 

  •  Do the Work for Them

If someone wants to change, it is not something that is going to happen over night. Also, their form of recovery might look different than yours or someone else’s. Try not to babysit the whole thing, and let them better themselves on their own. Yes, it is important to support them, but not to control them. Often, recovering addicts have multiple relapses, so keep that in mind as well.

 

  • Avoid the Situation

Pretending like you don’t know what is happening, or looking the other way can be a very risky move. The situation will just continue to get worse, and it could become more and more life-threatening. A lot of times people don’t talk about addiction because they don’t exactly know how to bring it up without people becoming uncomfortable. There is a stigma that needs to be broken that addicts are bad people. Addiction doesn’t need to be a defining characteristic. Recovery is possible with the right knowledge and team.

 

 

Ask the Therapist | Kelsey McCoy

Jun 10, 2017 in Ask The Therapist

The Pressures of Parenthood

 

As a fairly new parent (my first child is going on 11 months), I have entered a world in which there is constant pressure, self-doubt, and worry. I am repeatedly comparing myself to other mothers, questioning my parenting decisions, and falling victim to the criticisms and opinions of others who think their ways are best. My anxiety hit an all time high in this new avenue of life. I often find myself checking in with other mothers in an effort to affirm, validate, and normalize my experiences and often find great comfort in learning I am not alone in these struggles.

Parenting is hard. That’s the truth of the matter. There are absolutely wonderful days where the joy you feel is indescribable. There are days where you question your sanity and crave an escape. And then there are days when you know that outside help is needed- let us be there when that time comes.

Seek an objective outside party who can affirm, validate, and normalize your experiences in an effort to best support you on your parenting journey. And ask for help, guidance, and knowledge when you find yourself at a loss; there is no shame in bettering yourself as a parent and as a person. Whether you need ideas of how to bond with your child, suggestions to improve discipline, or wisdom in regard to a whole host of mental health diagnoses and strategies to cope with them, help is available. You deserve it, your children deserve it, and all those who surround you and love you deserve it as well. When you’re ready, we at Avenues will be waiting for you.

Clean Eating

Jun 3, 2017 in Hot Topics

In our busy day and age, it can be way too easy to consume “on-the-go” foods. It has become so normal for our generation, that you may not even begin to think about all the processed foods you consume. The worst part, is that typically people know that they are “bad” for you, but do not realize that food and what we consume can not only have physical effects, but mental effects too.

 

 

Cleaning Up Our Diet

 

There are a lot of definitions of a “clean” diet, but typically it refers to consuming foods that are not processed, and eating more whole foods. Whole foods refer to foods that are close to their natural state, meaning no added or minimal sugar and chemicals. The major benefit of eating cleanly, is that all the natural vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients are maintained in the food.

Anyone can learn to clean up their diet. The changes might not even be as big as you think. It could go from steel-cut oats instead of instant oatmeal, or a whole potato rather than fries. Even if you follow a particular diet such as vegan or vegetarian, there are still ways you can incorporate a more natural diet. For example, there the famous black bean burgers for those who do not eat meat, but they may not but unprocessed.

 

 

 

Foods Changing Emotions

 

Research by Eva Selhub has shown that the worse someone feels, the more likely they are to reach out for comfort food. Then, food can act as a comfort, but only short term. You then find yourself in a vicious cycle. What happens is that foods with high trans fats and sugars can cause inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain, which creates mental fog and depression.

You might be thinking that the diet itself is stressful enough, but really, it is not about cutting out foods. You can eat anything, just find the most natural version of that food and you will already be better off. Over time, you will find yourself incorporating more fruits and vegetables in your diet and expanding your palate.

Breaking the Exercise Barrier

May 27, 2017 in Hot Topics

A lot of people have temporary motivation to exercise, but it doesn’t always last. Our daily lives provide us with many excuses to not make an effort to endure physical activity. What a lot of people don’t keep in mind is, exercise is not just for your body physically, but mentally as well. Experts widely agree that exercise can increase a positive mood. Exercising is known to be a natural antidepressant. It is something people need to do for themselves, but it doesn’t always happen.

 

 

What Holds Us Back and How Do We Break It?

 

Getting started is the hardest part. A lot of people find themselves never starting, just because they don’t know how to. The answer to this is to just do it. Don’t feel like you have to wait for a Monday to come around. Start where you are, and if you forget a day, carry on from where you left off. Life happens, and you will find that some days are easier to be consistent than others, but they key is to just keep going. Ask a friend to join you and set goals with you. Being in a team with someone will make you more likely to follow through with plans, and much more hesitant to quit all together.

There are so many other roadblocks that can take effect. One of the most common is, “I don’t have the time.” What a lot of people don’t realize is, you don’t need long, hardcore workouts to make an impact. Start small with a 20 minute walk everyday. Same thing goes for if you’re “too tired.” Set aside 10-20 minutes a day for any physical activity, and you may start to find you are increasing the amount of time you are spending exercising. Even if you stick to that short amount of time, anything is still much better than nothing.

If you are someone who hates exercising or feel as though you are too out of shape, focus on physical activities you enjoy such as basketball or riding a bike. It is hard for ANYONE to do things they’re dreading, so if you make it something you look forward to, you’re much more likely to follow through.

A common setback is also, “I can’t exercise because I have _________ health condition.” Is this an unfortunate hurdle? Yes. Should it stop you all together? No. Speak with your doctor about your limitations, and find out what you CAN do. Sometimes the limitation comes in the form of a feeling or mood. As mentioned earlier, exercising is a natural antidepressant. With that in mind, if you already aren’t in the best spirits that day, it can only get better from there after physical activity.

 

 

How Can We Have More Compassion?

May 20, 2017 in Blog From The Experts, Hot Topics

In today’s world, it is easy to be mindlessly greedy. Humans are on a path that does not necessarily require shared resources, so we are unknowingly becoming less and less compassionate. Is being compassionate a learned trait or is it biological? How can we learn to be more compassionate? The answer is fairly simple.

 

 

As a Society, How Did We Lose Compassion?

 

According to the author of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, Christine Carter, “As a society, we value happiness but we pursue it through consumption, materialism, and accumulation. I was just talking to someone from another country and he noticed that on TV, all Americans are so happy. But it’s always about the stuff we have, the food we eat, the drinks we drink.”

Perhaps to start a blossom of compassion, we need to value the simpler things in life, and enjoy each other more. It is easy to think of life as a competition and compare our own lives to others. Comparing ourselves can lead to resentment within ourselves if we fall short of our own expectations. Enjoy what you DO have, and focus less on the things you DON’T have. When we attach our emotions to material things, it is way too easy to be let down.

All humans are born with bodily systems that thrive on meaningful bonds that are long term. With this information, it shows that humans as a species are born with compassion, empathy, and the desire to be close with others. Trauma, past experiences, and cognitive issues can all get in the way of normal human instincts. Also, as mentioned above, the way we are changing culturally is no help either.

 

 

How Do We Change?

 

To change our ways does not have to be a huge and difficult task. Simply start small with finding ways to connect with others. If you make a genuine effort, people will notice. You too will notice that you feel good when you treat others with kindness. Another small way to start is if you catch yourself zoning out often when others talk, as soon as you notice, immediately correct it. Giving your full attention to a task, whether it’s talking with someone, or working on yourself, makes the whole thing easier.

To help ourselves be more compassionate, focus on the things that matter to you, share them with others, and give genuine advice on anything they are struggling with to the best of your ability. This way, you are building connections. Helping others realize that happiness does not reside in material things, but in the relationship we share with one another, the more it will help ourselves realize it too.

Ask the Therapist | Jen Yensel & Beth Franczak

May 13, 2017 in Ask The Therapist

“13 Reasons Why” From a Therapist’s Perspective

 

 

One of the perks of working with your best friend, who is also a therapist, is being able to process work and personal life with a trained professional. Sure, Friday nights with us sound like a blast, right? Believe it or not, we actually don’t talk about work that much. However, we have been discussing something that has been on our minds lately and wondered if it has been on your minds too. We recently watched “13 Reasons Why” and know many of you have also been watching. The show caused so much emotion that we cannot stop processing the impact it had on us. There were some episodes that we had to stop watching and wait a few days before we could resume watching the show, usually after processing what was going on in our own minds. Then we got to thinking: we are two trained therapists who see situations like this all too frequently, and we were completely overwhelmed. Luckily, we have each other to process this. We want you to know that we want you to discuss and reflect on this too. Process this show with your parents, friends, a trusted adult, or talk about it with us if you need to. From our own experiences, we have come up with some ways to talk with others about this show.

 

Ask each other: what did you think about the show? What or who could you relate to? How might you handle the situation if you were on of Hannah’s peers, or if you were Hannah yourself? What do you do if someone is suicidal? (Call a suicide hotline, reach out to a parent or adult, call for help immediately, do NOT try to fix the situation alone.) How have you experienced bullying? What can you do if you see or experience sexual assault? What did you think about how adults were portrayed in the show?

 

There are a lot of PSA’s, emails, newsletters etc. out there right now about talking about this show. A lot. They range from warning of the dangers of the show to hailing it as a much needed eye opener. There is no guarantee about how anyone will react to this show, to any show or movie, or to life! What we want to do is acknowledge the fact that many of you are watching it, living lives where you can all too much relate, and many have been deeply impacted, both good and bad. Take this as an opportunity to talk openly about all the issues, feelings, and memories it brings to you. We strongly encourage adults to watch the show with your child and talk about some of the questions we addressed. It might also we helpful to have a discussion within your family about whether your child is able to understand the events of the series, differentiate between fantasy and reality, and cope with strong emotions it could potentially bring up. The show is rated “MA” for mature. Please keep that in mind. If you’re a parent, monitor what your kids are watching, and by all means, if you do decide your teen should watch, watch it with them.

 

Another option is to read the book. Read the book as a family. Yes, we know, we can imagine the eye rolls. However, we often recommend families read something together. Sure, we get initial eye rolls, but lots of times, they are followed by reports of a deeply moving experience. Reading the book “13 Reasons Why” prior to watching it may help generate much needed dialogue and also spare (or prepare) you for the many graphic and gut wrenching scenes.

 

We know that teens want to watch this show. We get it. It’s easy to get pulled into the story line and want to know what happens next, even if it is hard to watch. Adults, this is an amazing opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation with your child, not only with this show, but all shows and movies. Use what is happening in your teen’s free time to engage in those important dialogues. We certainly are!