Category: Healthy Relationships
How to Help the Brain Relieve Stress with EMDR
Many of us deal with tremendous stress every day. Too much stress can damage our sense of wellbeing. We may struggle with a relationship, a job, an illness, or powerlessness about violence and problems in the news. But if we feel too overwhelmed our mental health can suffer.
Stress hormones flood through the body when we feel unsafe, or when we see others in pain even if they’re far away. The signals to fight, flee, or go numb have physiological effects on our bodies even if we’re not directly involved in whatever is happening. We’re still “experiencing” part of that.
How do we cope? Many people seek relief by overworking, eating too much, drinking too much, disappearing for hours behind a screen, or feeling detached and helpless. Memories of feeling useless or small may underscore a sense of being stuck. So we cope as best as we can. What else can we do?
Do you notice coping skills that make you feel bad about yourself, or that are doing more harm than good? That’s … Come Read the Rest
11 Common Questions about Healing Trauma with EMDR
You can probably think of a time when you were truly terrified. If you can recall it calmly now that’s a good sign you’ve healed from the experience. You feel secure, knowing the bad experience is in the past.
Ideally, our brain and body work together to restore calm after danger so we feel safe again. We may even gain more confidence, too.
Sometimes, however, the nervous system reacts in ways that block the resolution process. For some people, a terrifying episode instills an ongoing sense of danger, even after the threat has passed. These people may seem highly reactive, or often anxious. It’s as if the nervous system continues to function on high alert.
An ongoing struggle to restore a sense of safety and calm may be a sign of trauma. If you keep having trouble coping with intrusive memories, negative or scary thoughts, or self-doubt, trauma may be a factor in your life. That’s when working with a therapist trained in EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing — can really help.
Here … Come Read the Rest
How to Help Older Children and Teens Manage Emotions
When children are little, parents have lots of control over their activities and choices. Parents can directly impact what happens when children act out or become upset. All this changes with teenage emotions.
A parent’s direct control diminishes as young children become teens, whether we like it or not. Responding well to your child’s changing needs is one of the biggest challenges of parenthood.
In dealing with teenage emotions, parenting involves giving your child space to figure some things out through coaching and guiding instead of hands-on intervention. During adolescence, teens naturally seek an increasing amount of autonomy and learn what works and what doesn’t through experience and natural consequences.
But at the same time, parents are still vital to their emotional and physical well-being. It can be a tricky stage to navigate! Understanding your child’s world by asking questions becomes more important. Questions help you learn what they want and what they’ve already tried.
Back-To-School Emotional Stress
The back-to-school transition can be an especially important time to think through how you’ll handle strong … Come Read the Rest
How to Help Young Children Manage Emotions Without Leaving Emotional Scars
One of the biggest — and toughest — jobs parents have is helping children manage strong emotions. When our child is acting out or has an emotional outburst, it can make us as parents feel anxious, helpless, and sometimes angry. Typically, those feelings are remnants from how we were raised. Parenting emotional children may sometimes feel overwhelming.
Recognizing our own responses in the moment is so critical to effective parenting. But this is often easier said than done!
Understanding a bit about how children develop emotional awareness can help parents understand their child’s behavior better. This knowledge can help us avoid making negative judgments and allow healthier ways to help children manage their emotions.
Young Children Express Feelings Through Behavior
Children handle emotions and express distress differently, depending on age.
Younger children use behavior, not words, to express emotions. Signs of stress in younger children include:
- Being clingy
As they progress through elementary school, middle and high school, children may learn better impulse control. They may be less obvious … Come Read the Rest
Anorexia: What You Need to Know About the Deadliest Mental Health Disorder
Anorexia has the highest death rate of any mental disorder says the NIH. That’s why I want more people to know about eating disorders, and how to respond to those who are struggling.
Eating disorders are among the most difficult mental health conditions to understand and treat. Because they are so often misunderstood, eating disorders can go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for a long time. Delay is a concern, because the earlier someone gets treatment, the better.
More of us can help those impacted by eating disorders. We can start by learning how anorexia shapes the way someone may think and act. Family and friends can make a huge difference by learning how to reach out to those who are suffering. Clearer understanding and recognition are keys to helping people with anorexia find the support they need.
A Definition of Anorexia
Anorexia literally translates as “loss of appetite.” Unfortunately, this literal meaning gives us a rather poor idea of what a person with anorexia is going through.
Digging deeper, we find anorexia comes from … Come Read the Rest
How to Rekindle a Marriage or Relationship: Part 2
How can you rekindle a marriage or relationship? When you think, “there’s no emotional connection,” it really hurts. It’s only human to spring into action. There’s an urge to “fix it” and attack the issue at its source. This is especially true when something important is at stake, like our closest relationship.
But when partners think the way to bring closeness back is to fix their partner’s flaws, things can quickly go from bad to worse. Patterns like blaming are common in relationships. But they make it harder to rekindle love and affection. Restoring romance and intimacy starts with recognizing and stopping negative patterns (Part 1).
Fortunately, the science behind relationships, love, and attachment has come a long way. We can build more positive patterns into relationships to deal with problems in healthier ways.
Researchers like Dr. Sue Johnson, Dr. Brené Brown and Drs. John and Julie Gottman have learned from decades of data in their work with couples and individuals.
They identified different patterns and qualities that rekindle relationships and keep them … Come Read the Rest
How to Bring Intimacy Back Into A Relationship: Part 1
Couples want to know what to do when the spark fades in their marriage or committed partnership. How can a couple that is struggling bring intimacy back into a relationship?
Couples find themselves having little or no sex for many reasons. Some of the most common reasons romance disappears are:
- A loss of emotional intimacy
- A pursue-withdraw dynamic has developed
- Few patterns exist to build openness, trust, and safety
Despite these challenges, couples can bring the spark back in their marriage. They can rekindle the spark by finding ways to be more emotionally present to themselves and each other.
There’s No Magic Needed to Bring Intimacy Back
Good sexual chemistry may seem like something magical. This is the feeling people often think of when they want to bring intimacy back. Early in a relationship, couples seem able to look past each other’s flaws easily. They are living examples of the saying, “Love is blind.”
Even the idea of “falling in love” implies a force of attraction that is out of our control. It’s as … Come Read the Rest
How to Protect Your Relationship When You Argue
For a relationship to feel good, both partners need to feel safe in each other’s care. They need to talk through what problems come up, understand each other, and still enjoy the relationship, even if they can’t agree on every issue. That’s what secure emotional connection does.
At their best, partners create positive ways to talk about the good and the bad:
- They learn to express themselves gently so the other can and hear and respond.
- They speak for themselves and their own feelings, so that neither has to seek protection from attacks or criticism.
- They turn kindly toward each other even when problems come up.
These are some of the way strong couples manage to keep a positive climate of emotional connection between them.
Some partners have more success than others in handling disagreements. Fortunately we’ve learned a lot about how to protect your relationship when you argue.
Disconnection Is Usually the Real Problem
When we’re feeling unsure or unheard, especially with a loved one, two things happen. First, partners feel shut … Come Read the Rest
How to Manage Feelings With Perspective-Taking
The way you look at things — your perspective — has a lot to do with your mental health and happiness. Abraham Lincoln said, “Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” That says something about the power of perspective-taking.
But do we really have control over our emotions through point of view? You could argue that we can’t help feeling what we feel.
Emotions Are Both Automatic and Manageable
It’s true that emotions can just happen. That’s a good thing. When a baby is hungry or scared or hurt, it becomes upset. The baby’s cries help ensure needed care arrives.
In adult life, when your partner doesn’t come home as expected, you worry. Voicing your concern would (ideally) help you both adjust to improve your trust and safety. If someone you care about smiles and says, “I’m so glad you’re in my life,” you would probably feel good. You might share the feeling of happiness back in some way. These emotions arise naturally.
Yet we also need to function … Come Read the Rest
How to Keep Love Growing in a Relationship (2019)
“Love has a kind of magic. It’s able to do amazing things.” That’s what researcher Dr. John Gottman said about great friendships and love relationships, in a TEDx talk.
Social science tells us, those who enjoy healthy friendships and love also enjoy:
- Greater physical health
- Greater mental health
- Greater wealth
- Longer life (10-15 years longer)
- More successful children
Despite these benefits, we know about half of US marriages end in divorce. Knowing so many relationships die before partners can enjoy the gifts of long-term love is sad. What don’t we know? What we can learn?
Falling in love is terrific. You feel fireworks without even trying. You’re so happy together. You feel excited, desired, and thrilled to give and receive attention. That’s not the problem.
The challenge is learning how to make love grow after it starts.
Why Lasting Love Takes Different Work than First Love
Lasting love is different, because now you’ve had a chance to annoy each other. Can you still let the good times roll? Can you still feel positive right … Come Read the Rest