7 Tips for Getting Through a Breakup

No breakup is ever easy, but some breakups can make you feel like you’ve been sucker punched. And during those times, it can become sincerely difficult to see a way forward. Maybe your friends and family don’t seem to understand why you’re struggling so much, but you have every right to your feelings and your personal journey of mourning. (Because yes, you are allowed to mourn over a relationship!)

I know that things may feel dark right now, but I’ve got two great pieces of news for you. One, you’re not alone – your struggle and experience is valid and difficult, but you can take strength knowing that many other men and women like you find a way to fight through similar tough experiences all the time. And you can too.

The second piece of good news is that you have the power to make yourself feel better. Now, I’m not trying to say you can snap your fingers or simply make a mental decision, and suddenly you’ll feel better. However, you are strong and capable, and there are many things you can do to help yourself climb out of this hole and back towards your personal “normal.”

Let’s get you started with a handful of solid first steps you can take.

1. Practice self-care.Instead of wallowing in your misery, distract yourself by indulging in something you truly enjoy after all self-love is the most important love! Do something you’ve always wanted to do, take yourself on dates or buy yourself a present. It will definitely help you feel better.

2. Use social media smartly.You might want to stay off social media during this period. Seeing pictures of happy couples on your Facebook or Instagram feed might unnecessarily trigger you. Remember that nobody’s life is as perfect as it appears to be on social media.

3. Rely on your support system. Nobody should have to go through a breakup alone. Calling your BFF and crying it out on the phone can be extremely cathartic, plus you get to hear someone you love remind you of how awesome you are. Allow your friends and family to be there for you.

4. Find a good therapist. Talk therapy can help you with some much-needed evaluation. It can help you see what went wrong in the relationship, what you really need in a relationship, and who you really are.

5. Seek your passion.Find something that you’re really happy doing, and spend a lot of time doing it. That way, you have something positive to channel your emotions to, and you’d be too busy having fun to think about your ex.

6. Practice gratitude. Think about all the other people in your life who love you completely, and be thankful for them.

7. Focus on becoming a better person for YOU. Now is a great time to do those things you’ve always wanted to do. Start exercising, eat healthily, learn a new skill, and travel somewhere new. Grow in as many ways as possible and watch yourself flourish.

Remember, grieving the loss of a relationship is completely normal. Give yourself the time and space you need to get through the breakup. Seeing a professional therapist is a great step towards healing. If you need someone to help you through your breakup, please reach out to book a session with me.

5 Tips for Making Friends in Midlife

For many people, middle age is the catalyst to take stock of life. The kids have flown the coop and there’s more time to reconsider your likes, dislikes, goal, and dreams.

Middle age is also the time we tend to look around at our social circles. Are our friendships still there? Have we lost friends due to illness, a move, or divorce? Do we want something different out of our friendships? As we age, we tend to have less tolerance or energy for fluff friendships. We want substance and real, genuine connections.

But making friends when you’re older is not always that easy. It was simple in school or during those early days in our first job – you saw the same people every single day. You were surrounded by friend candidates. But once you hit middle age, it becomes more difficult to meet new people.

The good news is, while challenging, it’s very possible to make new and lasting friendships. Here are some tips to help you make new friends in midlife:

1. Don’t Feel Embarrassed
There is no reason to feel embarrassed about being lonely or friendless. It is far more common than we are led to believe from the media. So, don’t feel bad, and get ready to put yourself out there.

2. Volunteer
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people who share your values. As an added bonus, studies have shown that people who volunteer are healthier and live longer!

3. Take a Class
Do you have a passion for dance? Painting? Photography? Taking a class is a great way to learn more about something you already love, be engaged, keep your brain young, and meet people with similar interests and hobbies.

4. Reach Out to Acquaintances
How many times have you run into someone you “sort of know” at a work function or at your local Starbucks. Every time you have a conversation with this person you think, “Gee, I wish we were friends.”

The next time you see this person, ask if they’d like to have lunch. Get their contact information and follow up. You never know, it could be the start of something worthwhile.

5. Get into the Habit of Being Social
By midlife we’ve gotten into some pretty significant habits. Some good…some not so good. If you’ve never been a social butterfly – but instead someone who is used to staying home with the kids or simply staying in because it’s easier – putting yourself out there will probably feel weird. However, it’s important to try to be social daily. This could mean simply taking a walk around your city or neighborhood and saying hello to friendly faces or calling up an acquaintance for a chat.

Good relationships are important for our overall health and the quality of our lives. While it may seem intimidating to build new friendships in midlife, these can actually be some of the most lasting and profound connections we end up making.

 

Do you believe you lack social connections because of fear, grief, or a low self-esteem? If you’d like to explore therapy, please get in touch. I’d be more than happy to talk about how I may help.

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Get Some Sleep! 5 Tips for Busting Through Your Insomnia

If you find yourself struggling to fall or stay asleep, you’re not alone. Insomnia, the chronic inability to get sufficient sleep, is a common problem affecting millions of Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2014 study, more than a third of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep on a daily basis.

With a lack of sleep at the root of serious medical conditions like obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease, getting a decent amount of sleep on a regular basis is crucial to a long and healthy life. Here are five things you can do to change your routine and start getting to, and staying, asleep.

1. Just Two Things in Bed
Make sure that your bed is used only for two things: sex and sleep. By using your bed almost exclusively for sleep, your body will associate your bed with rest and relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep.

2. Exercise Regularly
Getting regular exercise (the recommended thirty minutes a day, five days a week) will help you promote healthy sleep habits. Your post-exercise temperature may promote falling asleep, and exercise in general will help eliminate insomnia by decreasing arousal and anxiety.

3. Naps, Caffeine, & Alcohol
Short naps are helpful for some, but for others it impacts their ability to fall asleep. If you’re struggling with insomnia, avoid naps during the day. Caffeine, a known stimulant, may keep you up longer than you’re aware. You may need to avoid caffeine entirely if it prevents you from falling asleep. And, while alcohol is a sedative, it can disrupt your sleep; so if you have trouble staying asleep, avoid alcohol.

4. No Screens Before Bedtime
Screen time, such as computers, smart phones and television, prevent you from falling asleep due to cognitive stimulation. Too much light at bedtime affects your melatonin production, giving your body the impression that its staying awake, not ready for sleep. Help your body get ready for sleep by eliminating screen time at least two hours before bed.

5. Create a Nighttime Routine
Creating a regular nighttime routine will help your body get into the habit of winding down and relaxing as it prepares for sleep. Create a nighttime routine an hour or two before bed. Maybe have a glass of warm milk, brush your teeth, change into your pajamas and read a book every night before bed. Make sure you go to bed around the same time every night too, including weekends.

Changing old habits and establishing a new routine is never easy. But as you make changes and sustain new practices, it will get easier. Before long you’ll have a new set of healthy habits, and you can finally settle in for a good night’s sleep.

Are you struggling with insomnia and need help maintaining healthy sleep habits? A licensed professional can help. Call my office today and let’s schedule an appointment to talk.

5 Signs You Aren’t Practicing Self-Care

Self-care is complex. Anyone can tell you to do it, but only you can bestow the gift of self-care onto yourself. But before you can begin bestowing, you’ve got to first recognize that you are worthy of caring for yourself as you do others.

How do you do this? By noticing the ways in which you are currently not taking very good care of yourself.

Here are 5 signs you aren’t practicing self-care. If any seem familiar, it is time to make more time for yourself:

1. You Get Sick More Often

When we don’t take proper care of ourselves, our health takes a big hit. Lack of proper sleep and nutrition can lead to a taxed immune system, which in turn makes you vulnerable to infections, colds, flu, and other immune-related medical problems.

2. Increased Moodiness

What happens when a child does not get the care and attention they deserve? They begin to act out in order to get any attention. In much the same way, a lack of self-care and feeling of unimportance can lead to increased irritability. Leaving this unchecked can result in personal and professional relationships being negatively affected.

3. Unpleasant Physical Symptoms

What can start out as unpleasant (and even scary) physical symptoms, can be a sign of poor self-care. Symptoms may include dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pains, heart palpitations, abdominal pain, headaches, and fainting spells. All of these symptoms should be checked out by your healthcare provider immediately.

4. A Feeling of Isolation

When you feel you don’t deserve to care for yourself, you naturally feel unworthy of enjoying other aspects of life, like socializing and a true connection to friends and family. This can lead to a detachment of others and a sense of isolation.

5. Depression

Feelings of worthlessness can snowball into feelings of hopelessness and depression. If you have noticed yourself slipping farther and farther into a depression, it is important that you seek help from a mental health professional. They can help you recognize where the darkness has come from, and how to break through back into the light.

If you or a loved one is experiencing depression, or would simply like some help practicing self-care, please be in touch with me. I would be more than happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

Marital Conflict Stopped by Empathy

couple fighting

All couples have conflict.  Disagreement is an inevitable aspect of being in a close relationship.  Some arguments become toxic.  Discord can become chronic.  When that happens, your relationship is in trouble.

Feeling Stuck

Have you felt like you are having the same argument over and over again?  This is is a sign that you would benefit from learning to improve the way you and your partner approach conflict.

Hurtful Words

Does it feel like your fights go beyond the issue at hand?  Are there times when you or your partner will try to push each other’s buttons?  If your relationship includes degrading and hurtful language, it is time to change the way you and your partner approach conflict.

Taking your opponents side

A powerful way to overcome hurtful conflict is to be empathetic.  What is it about the situation you and your partner are facing that is creating the hostility in your partner?  Do they feel afraid?  Do they feel insecure?  Do they feel threatened in some way?  If you can identify what is hurting them and try to validate their feelings and reassure them, you will find a major change in your partner’s demeanor.  Ask yourself:  “Who am I being that is causing my partner to feel this way?  Is there any way I can change my speech or demeanor that would help them feel heard and understood?”

Easier Said than Done

Being empathetic is not a difficult concept to grasp.  When others feel like we care about their feelings (even if we don’t agree), they feel cared for and aren’t as likely to fight.  This is much more difficult to enact when you are in a conflict.  Here are some suggestions for how you might put this into practice:

  1. Anticipate what your partner will say and do — try to anticipate what your partner’s concerns are ahead of time.  Try to anticipate what some of their behaviors will be ahead of time (especially speech or actions that may push your buttons)
  2. Anticipate what you will say and do — How have you responded to negative conflict in the past?  Make a commitment to not repeat negative behaviors, such as name calling
  3. Learn to soothe yourself — teach yourself how to calm down when you are upset.  Principles such as proper breathing and healthy thinking can make a major difference when you are having interpersonal conflict.
  4. Journal — write down some of your concerns about your relationship and how you might respond.  This will help you prepare.

Being empathetic and gracious towards your partner, even when he or she is upset will change the way you as a couple address conflict.  Every couple will have disagreement, but empathy can go a long way towards preventing the discord from becoming toxic.  If you continue to have conflict with your partner, consider marital counseling.

About the author:  Dr. Spriggs is a psychologist and the owner of Piedmont Counseling Center.  Although he sees people for a variety of reasons, couples counseling is the focus of Dr. Spriggs work.  You can read more about Dr. Spriggs by following this link:  Dr. Spriggs.

Stepping Back from the Edge: How to Deal with Anger in the Moment

Anger is a natural and healthy emotion that everyone feels from time to time. But when you find yourself being caught off guard with unexpected anger or feeling anger at a time when you can’t express it, it can be difficult to cope with.

So, what can you do when you find yourself feeling anger unexpectedly? Below are some strategies to help you keep your calm and respond appropriately.

1. Acknowledge Your Feelings
When you’re caught off guard with anger, you might start to feel defensive or emotional and not immediately know why. Before you do or say anything, assess your feelings and acknowledge that you’re angry, and what is the likely cause of the anger. “Our children got in a fight her child started, and she’s wrongfully blaming my daughter.”

2. Take a Breath
As you acknowledge you’re upset, stop and take a breath. Put physical distance between you and the other person by taking a couple of steps back.

3. Be Curious Instead of Furious
If you have difficulty controlling your anger, it can be all too easy to jump instantly into furious mode and unleash your anger. Instead of being angry, be curious. Consider why this person is behaving this way, or saying these things. Maybe they had a bad morning or heard some upsetting news.

4. It’s Not Personal
Remind yourself that this isn’t personal to you. Oftentimes when people are behaving inappropriately or saying hurtful things, it’s because of things going on with them in their own lives. Practice reminding yourself that it’s not personal to you.

5. Use “I” Statements
When you’re upset, it might not always be appropriate to respond. Sometimes it’s best to just walk away. But if you do need to say something, focus on the behavior you find unacceptable without placing blame. Talk specifically about your feelings and the effect of the behavior on you. By communicating without placing blame, you are more likely to be understood and work toward a resolution, rather than putting the other person on defense and starting a conflict.

If you’re still feeling upset after a difficult exchange, try calling a friend to vent, write your feelings down in a letter you’ll never send, or do some exercise. Go for a walk, or join a friend for spin class. Do something nice for yourself later, like cooking a special dinner or taking a hot bath. When it comes to anger, remember that in the long run it’s best for you to control it, rather than allow it to control you.

Are you having difficulty managing your emotions? Is anger beginning to have a significant negative impact on your life and relationships? A licensed mental health professional specializing in anger management can help. Call my office today and we can schedule an appointment to talk.

Signs Your Partner Is Addicted To Pornography

All addictions negatively impact a relationship, and pornography addiction is certainly no exception. The adult entertainment industry generates billions of dollars annually, and with an estimated 40 million Americans visiting porn sites regularly, pornography addiction is a problem for many families.

With an estimated 28% of women viewing online pornography versus 72% of men, pornography addiction isn’t a problem specific to men; women can also become addicted. If you’re concerned that your partner has developed an addiction to pornography, here are some signs to look out for.

They spend a lot of time on the internet

The porn addict will spend hours, and sometimes even days, online viewing pornography. If your spouse spends an increasing amount of time alone, either with a phone, laptop or tablet, he or she may be developing an obsession with pornography.

They’re critical of you

Porn stars are typically young and attractive, often times surgically enhanced. The more your partner watches pornography, the more negatively you may be compared to the models he or she is watching. Porn addicts tend to objectify their partner, and as your spouse spends increasing amounts of time watching porn, they may start to become critical of your body.

Unusual spending activity

Checking your bank or credit card statements, you may find unexpected or unexplained charges. Adult entertainment websites will often mask the charges to benefit the confidentiality of their customers, so you may have to do a Google search or make some phone calls to uncover the source of the charges.

Your sex life has changed

When someone is addicted to pornography, they may no longer have the drive or desire to maintain a sex life with their partner. Conversely, some addicts become more demanding. They may want to engage in acts you’re not comfortable with. As a person becomes more and more addicted to pornography, they will have to watch increasingly unusual material. This may result in your partner becoming more rough or aggressive.

So what can you do if you suspect your partner is addicted to porn? First, know that his or her addiction is not your fault. People become addicted as a way of coping with unwanted feelings and emotions, or as a way to avoid real life stress or difficulties. Second, seek support from trusted loved ones and find a therapist who can help you both on the road to recovery.

Is your relationship suffering because of pornography addiction? A trained, licensed mental health professional can help. Call my office today and let’s set up an appointment to talk.