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Happy Holidays???

By Victoria, Licensed Psychotherapist

 

Most of us have a fantasy about the holiday season...time off from work, joyous gift-giving, splendid meals, and the warmth of friends and family. Unfortunately, these expectations can haunt us and we may find ourselves rather unhappy during the holiday season. For example, Thanksgiving dinner is a drama with Aunt Lauren's drinking, or Mom and Dad are fighting bitterly in front of the kids on Christmas morning. Or you see Grandma at Hanukah and she ignores you for your older sister, as she always does. All our family problems become very evident as we spend time together over the holidays, destroying our illusions about the perfect, happy family.

There are other expectations-expensive gifts, elaborate meals, trimming the house, long drives and expensive flights to reunite with the family. These events can drain one's energy and strain one's finances. But we are expected to go all the way and honor the season by partaking of these rituals which may or may not be right for every person. Others may feel stressed about overeating, overdrinking and too many parties. And our work schedules can be upset by holiday breaks, leaving us feeling restless, fidgety and bored.

Here are some holiday tips to get you through the season:
1. Realize that the perfect, happy family is a myth. Be realistic about what your family gathering will be like (for instance, full of tension), so you won't be disappointed when it isn't ideal.

2. Set limits on time and money. If your finances are tight, limit gifts to a certain dollar amount. If the 7 hour drive to Grandpa's is too much for you and the babies, consider staying at home this year or flying. Or asking Grandpa to visit you.

3. Try to enjoy what you do have. Maybe it's having a family to eat turkey dinner with. Or that you've got enough money to take that holiday getaway with your partner. Or that you're simply in good health this year.

4. Honor the season with real spirit. Volunteer to serve a holiday dinner at a shelter. Donate blood. Fill Christmas stockings with inexpensive items for a children's charity. Look for an organization that needs help and make a monetary donation. Get your cat's picture taken with Santa!

If you're feeling blue or stressed this holiday season, call a licensed psychotherapist to help talk things out. She or he can help you figure out how to get through the season as effortlessly and joyfully as possible.

She wants love, he wants sex? Men and women can be very different when it comes to love and sex. It’s said that men give love to get sex, and that women give sex to get love. Of course, every man and woman is different in his or her attitudes and desires towards sex and love.

 While some women are “freer” about having sex outside of a committed relationship, and some men prefer to have sex only in an exclusive partnership, what do these gender differences mean?

 Misunderstandings can occur when a woman assumes that sex with a man means they are in a committed relationship, or that he wants anything more than physical intimacy. Communication is important. Discuss with your partner what it means if the two of you have sex. Do you date others, have sex with others, are you planning a future together, just having fun, or not sure where things are going? A man might not volunteer information about other partners if he thinks it will decrease his chances with you. Or, he may think it’s not that important to you if you don’t bring up the issue. A man might also tell you he’s not serious, or just dating to let you know the two of you are not exclusive.

 Why do men and women often differ about sex? One reason is how the sexes are raised. Girls who grow up with a mother learn to stay close to her and follow her female ways. Boys generally learn while growing up to distance from Mom and her female ways and become a man. Ultimately, girls learn to stick close starting with their first relationship to Mom, while men are taught from childhood to move away from this relationship. As adults, women generally feel more comfortable being close in a relationship and men generally feel more ease with some distance in relationships. This can translate into women’s greater desire for commitment and men’s greater ease with freedom.

 
If you are wondering about sex and love in your dating or married life, speak with a licensed psychotherapist. Every person is a different and your love and sex style is formed by a multitude of factors.

So she snores, or maybe he’s a bore…but you still like your partner a lot. How can you tell whether you should keep him or her, or keep fishing?  It’s easy to say you love his cooking, or her sense-of-humor, but what should you really look at in your partner to judge the health and goodness of your relationship?

 Here are some fast ways to tell whether he’s Mr. Right or she’s Ms. Wrong:

 1.     You feel accepted by your partner. Even if your thighs are double wide, your partner finds you attractive.

2.     You feel respected. Your partner admires your skill at origami, even if he or she has absolutely no interest in it.

3.     You feel comfortable. Whether you’re at a 5 star resort, or kicking back with KFC, your time together is generally easygoing.

4.     Your values are similar. You both agree it’s fine if the kids turn out to be high-school dropouts. Or you both love the idea of living in a tent in the Rockies for the rest of your life.

5.     Your family and friends generally approve. People close to you may see things about your partner that you are unable to see due to the cloud of romance and lust around your relationship.

6.     You’re a better person with him/her. You feel more like donating blood, or smiling, or saving the rainforest, thanks to his/her influence.

7.     Your life seems better. You haven’t sunk into debt, abandoned your kids, or been fired due to the pressures of your relationship.

8.     You can count on your partner. Whether you’re stranded in a monsoon, being stalked by your ex, or developing raging ulcers, your partner hasn’t left.

 If you are wondering about issues in your relationship, speak with a licensed, experienced psychotherapist. A good therapist will help you sort things out, without telling you what to do.

You know that feeling. Shaking, breathlessness. Butterflies in your stomach. Maybe the thought that something terrible is going to happen. You may even have already had a panic attack.  These feelings are awful and they’re called anxiety. Why do you feel that way, and how can you try to shoo those butterflies away?

 Anxiety is normal. We worry about making a business presentation, or if someone we’re attracted to will smile back at us. But when anxiety becomes excessive or immobilizing, or doesn’t seem to have an origin, it’s a problem. Examples include being afraid to leave the house, checking something over and over again, or inability to speak with someone. Here are some simple strategies to help you cope with anxiety in the moment.

 1.     Breathe, taking long, deep breaths.

2.     Visualize a relaxing scene like a sunset or the ocean

3.     Drink water or a soothing cup of herb tea

4.     Distract yourself with a movie or TV

5.     Take a brisk walk around the block


If you are having serious anxiety and/or panic attacks, speak with a licensed psychotherapist. You can discuss what triggers your anxiety, if you know, or explore deeper psychological themes which may be creating your anxiety.

Right now, you may feel sadness, anger, shock, relief or surprise.., or anything else. Separation and divorce are a huge life event and a major stress…even if you and your partner both agree the relationship should end. Housing, money, children, pets. dating, and sex are all big issues that suddenly need to be navigated. You may ask what’s next for yourself and feel happiness, uncertainty, fear, or confusion. Or, you may hope that you and your partner can reconcile and work out your problems. One thing is clear when separation or divorce are looming: the love you promised to each other forever is in serious danger.

 Perhaps you and your spouse agreed to split up. Or maybe there have been angry scenes and tears. You may still love your partner, while they’ve fallen out of love, or vice versa. How do you make a decision about whether to stay or leave? One good rule is to ask yourself whether you are better off with or without that person. The question isn’t easy.

 Most of us select a partner based on many factors, some not even conscious to us. For example, you unconsciously married a very controlling woman, because your Mother was controlling, so you found someone familiar. While you may hate feeling controlled by a woman, it’s also known and predictable to you. Or you chose a man who’s very adventurous because he lives out the excitement you are afraid to experience for yourself. Because the process of finding a partner is so complex like this, the process of unhooking is also complicated.

 If you and/or your partner are contemplating a split, talk with a licensed, experienced psychotherapist to help you sort things through. A good therapist will help you think about the decision, rather than telling you what to do.

Tips to Beat Depression

1. Exercise   When you move, you stimulate serotonin in your brain. This neurotransmitter gives you pleasurable feelings. So, go for a walk, chase the cat, or get on a bike.

 

2. Eat a good meal  Lack of nutrients can actually make you feel depressed. Get enough protein for energy, and try fruit for a natural boost.

 

3. Talk to family or friends   There’s something about talking to someone else, connecting with another human, sharing your feelings. Reach out, pick up the phone, or make a lunch date!

 

4. Go for chocolate   If your diet allows it, indulge in the dark stuff every now and then. Chocolate contains a substance that mimics the way your brain feels when you fall in love.

 

5. Rest and sleep.  A bad night’s sleep makes you cranky and low-energy, dragging your mood down. Make your time before bed relaxing…bubble bath or a good book, maybe music, or just making love.

 

6. Do what you like.   Every day, treat yourself to one thing. Love movies? See a new one. Great gardener? Plant some roses. Love your dog? Take her for a really long romp.

 

7. Talk to a professional psychotherapist.  Get support and help from an experienced, licensed clinical psychotherapist. Only a professional can diagnose and treat you if you have real depression.

 

 

Victoria,

Licensed Psychotherapist

 

 

Weekend depression, anxiety, and sadness may start creeping up on you without your knowing it. During the week you're busy with work, activity and your schedule. But when Friday or Saturday starts rolling around, you may notice feeling blue, sad, or stressed out. It's starnge-how can the approaching weekend send you into depression?

For some people, weekend depression occurs as they expereince the aloneness of not having a boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse. For other people, weekend depression can occur if they are in an unhappy partner or marriage relationship, and they are forced to spend time in an unhappy relationship. Fighting, arguing, feeling criticized, or just didtant and lonely can be common symptoms that lead to this kind of weekend depression. Or, if one has difficult family relations with parents or childrem increased contact on weekends can produce the feelings of sadness, anxiety, stress, anger or depression.

A licensed psychotherapist can help you understand and work on your weekend depression. Please feel free to call me and talk over the weekend!