Archive of ‘Healthy Relationships’ category

Five Healthy Relationship Tips for the Holidays

Staying happy and healthy during the holidays!

The holidays are most certainly one of the most stressful times of the year. Between the gift buying and giving, the holiday parties, the family visits, and other pressures, one can get lost in the true meaning of the holidays. Not only that, but no matter how long you’ve been in a relationship or commitment, it can begin to have a toll on you and your partner as well. Statistics show that more break-ups, divorces, and infidelities happen around the holiday season. This could be in part because of the stress that individuals are under can begin to pile up, making people unhappy and, at times, difficult to be around. However, many of these issues can be avoided with the appropriate tools and mind set. I’ve put together a list of five tips that you can try incorporating with your partner to maintain a healthy relationship during the holiday season.

By: Angelica Beker, LPC-Intern Supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S

Five tips for you and your loved one:

1) Communication is key: This first tip is the most important. Taking the time to talk to your partner, hearing their concerns and opinions, and discussing ways to mediate and combine plans and ideas can be crucial. Sitting down and discussing a plan for family visits and trips can ease the stress of making sure all family members and parties are seen during the holidays and each partner gets the time they want with their loved ones. Allowing each other to talk out the stresses going on at work, at home, and anywhere else can also be key. The foundation for a healthy relationship is open communication. As such, having the both of you talk out your concerns and wishes for the holidays can be very helpful.

2) Alter your vision of a “perfect” holiday: Many people envision the holidays to be “so romantic” and “perfect” due to the portrayal of holidays in movies, television, and other media. Due to this, individuals may have unrealistic hopes and visions for the holidays, such as expecting a proposal or saying “I love you” or introducing a significant other to family too soon. The holidays do have a romantic feeling surrounding them, but this does not mean one should get carried away. Having healthy, realistic expectations for your relationship and where you relationship stands. Live in the moment, count your blessings, and appreciate the positive, holiday cheer that comes with it.

3) Make time for one another: Because of all the last-minute work deadline, holiday parties, family visits, etc., you and your significant other may realize you are spending less time one-on-one. Allow yourselves to do something together – even something as simple as baking or cooking, getting a massage, a bubble bath, movie night, or having a glass of wine together. This will allow you to have quality time with your partner and appreciate one another and devote time to each other.

4) Don’t be afraid to say “no”: If you feel you can’t afford throwing or attending another party or buying a certain gift, don’t. It is important to take note of your finances together and remember that material things are not what make the holiday. Financial stress can be difficult on relationships and can cause fights. Make a budget with your significant other and be aware of what you can and cannot afford. Don’t stretch yourselves too thin. Cutting back on spending money and making time to spend with one another and your loved ones can be more rewarding than spending more money than necessary and then stressing about it post-holiday season.

5) Ease up on the sweets and treats: The final tip is in regards to the food and drinks of the holiday season. Holiday parties can be delicious and full of sweets and treats! However, watching what you eat and drink can be beneficial to you and your partner. An overabundance of sweets, alcohol, and fatty, unhealthy foods can directly impact your mood. It can also activate the stress hormones in our bodies as well. Being aware of this can help keep your stress down and can in turn make you and your partner feel better, healthier, and happier, while warding off negative feelings and reactions.

Be sure to show love and understanding.

The holidays are a beautiful time of year and just remember, make sure you let your partner know how much you love for them and appreciate the relationships. Be sure to express gratitude and appreciation towards one another. It is simple to get caught up in the holiday madness, so let’s make this holiday a happy and healthy one for you and your partner!

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Holiday Parties and Career Related Social Anxiety

I love it when I read a blog and the author’s ideas resonate completely with my own. Recently I read Candence Turpin’s blog “A Better Way to Introduce Your Friends at Parties” and it left me yelling out loud, “Exactly!” Turpin shared a recent incident whereby she innocuously participated in the common social practice of introducing people by their job title at a party. By the end of the evening, her dear friend was left feeling inadequate and less interesting than other guests whose careers appeared to be more interesting. It left the author wondering why we don’t introduce people by sharing who they are to us and the meaning they bring to our lives. It was this idea that evoked my audible, “Exactly!”

Mavis Ball, LPC-Intern Supervised by Dr. John Jones

By: Mavis Ball, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Dr. John Jones

Social gatherings during the holiday can be a fun way to celebrate the season. It’s a great time to catch up with friends and family, and even meet new people. However, if introductions and conversations are limited to career titles and work discussions, social gatherings quickly become uncomfortable for those who are unemployed, underemployed, or whose college semester just ended badly.   It’s not uncommon for people experiencing work life turmoil to completely avoid holiday gatherings. The increased isolation can lead to greater levels of depression, which exacerbates their difficult situation. Turpin says, “Introducing your friends for who they are rather than focusing on what they do will remind them they are loved before and beyond their titles. It’s an easy way to remind them that you see them for their hearts instead of their accomplishments.” Not only would this method of introduction give grace to people whose work life is more complex than they want to discuss at a holiday party, but it may lead to better quality conversations and connections for all guests.

I’m not suggesting that we never discuss our work life at a party, but I do think it’s time to expand ourselves and try introducing our friends and family in a more meaningful way. Go one step further and challenge yourself to not say, “What do you do?” after you meet someone new at a holiday party. There’s plenty of time to network throughout the year, but the holidays only happen once a year. Let’s not unconsciously intermingle networking with holiday celebrations.


Myths About Domestic Violence: Part 3

By: Susanna Wetherington, LPC-Intern Supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S

Welcome back to our discussion on the myths about domestic violence. We continue our focus on the myths about abusive men, specifically myths about what causes abusive men to be abusive. As before, information for the blog is taken from the book “Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” by Lundy Bancroft. Please visit http://www.lundybancroft.com for more information.

Myth #7: He holds in his feelings too much.

This is often referred to as “The Boiler Theory of Men” – that men keep their emotions pent up inside and that in time they are bound to blow up. The truth is that most abusive men are actually quite the opposite in respect to their feelings, and they have an exaggerated idea of how important their feelings are. They talk about their feelings and act them out all the time, until those who are on the receiving end, their partners and children, are exhausted from it. It is not their feelings that are the problem, but their thinking and their attitudes about the feelings of others. They are too distant from their partner’s and children’s feelings rather than their own. This “boiler theory” appears to make sense because abusive men often follow a pattern of withdrawing, saying less and less, and then they appear to boil over and erupt in yelling, put-downs and other abusive behaviors. However the mounting tension is actually driven by his lack of empathy for the feelings of his partner and children, and then he gives himself permission to explode.

Myth #8: He has an aggressive personality.

It is understandable why this would be an attractive myth to believe – if it were true it would make it much easier to women to decrease the chances of ending up in an abusive relationship. However, the majority of abusers are often quite responsible calm when dealing with affairs and people unrelated to their partners. For most abusers, but not all, they do not get aggressive with individuals other than their partners. This actually is a contributing factor to why many women stay feel trapped in abusive relationships – their partners are calm and gentle people outside of the home, it’s so hard to believe they could be so different behind closed doors. This is one of the manipulative, twisted aspects of abusive partners and it serves to ensure their partners will not reach out for support.

This myth is perpetuated by the societal stereotype that abusers are relatively uneducated and blue-collar men. This is not only an unfair stereotype of working-class men, it overlooks the fact that a college-educated or professional man has roughly the same likelihood of abusing his partner as anyone else. The truth is, the more educated the abuser is, the more knots he can tie in his partner’s mind, the better he is at getting her to put the blame on herself for his behavior, and the slicker he is at being able to persuade others that she is crazy. Also, and this is a very important point, the more socially powerful an abuser, the more powerful his abuse can be – he has more influence and has more pull in the public eye, and this makes it much more difficult for his partner to escape.

Myth #9: He has low self-esteem.

Many would like to believe that abusive behavior is the result of the abusive man feeling bad about himself, having low self-esteem. This misconception leads the victim to do what she can to boost his confidence. However, this only makes the problem worse. Abusive men expect being catered to, and the more positive attention they receive, the more they demand. Thus, the self-esteem myth is ultimately rewarding to the abuser – it gets his partner, his therapist and others involved to cater to him emotionally.

Myth #10: He is too angry.

Perhaps the most common myth about abusive men is that they have anger management problems, that they are abusive because they are unable to appropriately cope with and manage their anger. The cause and effect belief usually looks like this: He is abusive because he is angry. However, this is the reverse of the truth – he is angry because he is abusive. Everybody gets angry and most have, on occasion, gotten too angry, where their anger is out of proportion to an event or beyond what is healthy for them. Some get ulcers, hypertension and heart attacks as a result. However, these individuals do not necessarily abuse their partners. An abusive partner’s anger can be misleading, in that it diverts the attention away from all the disrespect, irresponsibility, lying, talking over you, and other abusive and controlling behaviors he displays, even when he isn’t particularly upset.

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