12 Simple Ways to Practice Self-Care

If a loss in cabin pressure were to occur, what do flight attendants tell us to do?Make sure to put your own oxygen mask on before you put it on your child. The reason being that if you aren’t well, you can’t be there to help your child. The same is true when it comes to self-care.  

If we aren’t making our own well-being a priority, it makes it difficult for us to be there for the important people in our lives. Our lives put so many demands on our time and energy that at times, it may leave us feeling as if our entire existence is spent doing the things that others require of us, while our own wants take a back seat to our responsibilities, leaving us overwhelmingly out of balance. 

Self-care seems like such a simple thing to do, but at times it isn’t easy to implement in our everyday lives because we allow our beliefs to get in the way. One belief that makes it difficult to engage in self-care is that people may believe that they don’t have "the time" or “the money." Self-care doesn’t have to be an expensive or time-consuming venture.  In fact, self-care can include short and free things such as as listening to a meditation for 5 minutes, taking your dog for a walk around the neighborhood, or saying “no” to an invite when you are feeling exhausted.  

Another thing that gets in the way of self-care is believing that we’re being “selfish” by focusing on ourselves. If you grew up in a caretaking role and had adult responsibilities such as raising siblings or emotionally supporting your parents or caregivers, you may be so used to taking care of others that taking care of yourself may seem unfamiliar and even wrong. However, if we are not taking the time to focus on ourselves, we run the risk of feeling unbalanced or overwhelmed, which makes it difficult to be there for others.

Lastly, sometimes we assume that others will provide the balance that we need.  While our family and friends may provide emotional support in different ways, they are not mind readers and don’t always know what we need or how we’re feeling.  This is why it's important to make taking care of ourselves a priority and not rely on others to do it for us.

So if you need to create more balance in your life, here are 12 simple ways to engage in in self-care:

  1. Re-watch your favorite childhood movies or tv shows
  2. Walk your dog  (Unlike you, they need a human to help them practice self-care!)
  3. Adult coloring books- (Check out Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest, and Lost Ocean by Johanna Basford) 
  4. Practice meditation - (Easy to do with free videos on Youtube and meditation apps like Meditation Studio by Gaiam Inc.) 
  5. Listen to your favorite music while in the shower (Use a waterproof bluetooth speaker)
  6. Go for a run and listen to a podcast or audiobook
  7. Yoga- Take a class or check out free yoga videos on youtube that you can do in the comfort of your living room. (Checkout “Yoga with Adriene”)
  8. Say “no” when you don’t want to go somewhere or do something with others.
  9. Get take-out from your favorite restaurant (Apps like Eat24 bring your favorite foods right to your door)
  10. Set technology boundaries, such as stop checking your e-mail after a certain time or by taking breaks from social media sites 
  11. Watch the sunset.  Even if you’re still at work, go outside for a few minutes and enjoy the view
  12. Laugh!  Go and watch a comedy show or watch funny videos online (you can't go wrong with funny animal videos)
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7 Steps for Coping with Divorce

Divorce is never easy. Whether we feel completely blindsided by it or that it’s the best thing for us at this moment, it can be one of life's most stressful events. Divorce is especially difficult because it represents not only the loss of a relationship, but the loss of shared goals and dreams. We are forced to make major adjustments to our lives in a relatively short period of time and may now have to share custody of our children, as well as experience changes with finances, friends, and family in the process. However, with the proper support and coping skills, we can re-establish our equilibrium and move forward with our lives in a positive way. 

Here are 7 helpful steps for coping with divorce. 

1. Work on yourself! 

During a marriage, we sometimes find that we have invested so much time and energy into trying to save it that we have actually neglected many parts of ourselves. During the healing process, it is imperative to focus on yourself. For example, if you neglected your health, set small goals such as trying to eat healthier or implementing an exercise routine. Also, find at least 10 mites a day, where you can do something for yourself that you enjoy, whether it be watching your favorite tv program, reading a book, going for a walk, or calling a friend. 

2. Be able to ask for and receive support

Going through a divorce is overwhelming and it is crucial not to go it alone. Establish a few close friends and/or family members that you can talk to and spend time with. Sometimes, when we are going through difficult times, people may feel that they need to give us “space” and may not reach out to us. This is why we may need to reach out to loved ones and let them know what we need to feel supported. For example, you may choose to call a close friend and let him/her know that you need to vent for a little while. 

3. Set boundaries

When we go through a divorce, it’s important to set boundaries between our personal life and our friends and family. Some friends and family members may press us for details of the divorce or try and keep it the topic of constant conversation. It’s important to let them know when we are not feeling comfortable discussing certain details with them or when we would simply like a reprieve from discussing it altogether. They may even be eager to start setting us up on dates and we have to be careful not to let them push us into dating before we truly feel ready. 

4. Grieve

Grief is a natural response to a loss. With divorce, we experience many losses at the same time. Allowing yourself to feel whatever emotions you may experiencing, without judgment is a crucial step towards healing. Sometimes, well-intentioned loved ones may say things like, “Aren’t you over it already?” or “He/She cheated on you why are you sad that you aren’t together anymore?” The reality is that only we know our inner experience and the ways in which the divorce has impacted us. Also, it is not realistic for a marriage to be all good or all bad, so even if our spouse cheated on us and hurt us, there were also times in the marriage that were filled with positive memories, so it’s normal to experience conflicting emotions. 

5. Don’t punish self

When a divorce happens, we may find ourselves taking on unhealthy blame and responsibility. We may feel guilty that “we couldn’t make our marriage work” or that our children "can’t grow up in a  house with both parents.” Ask yourself whether that guilt is helpful or hurtful.  If there were things that you wish you would have done differently in the marriage, take the important lessons that you learned, but don’t beat yourself up over the outcome. Remind yourself that we all do the best that we can at any given moment in our lives. 

6. Focus on gratitude

There is no doubt that a divorce forces us to make certain adjustments in our lives that we may not be happy with, but it is also important to focus on the things going well in our lives. Research has found that practicing gratitude can increase happiness levels, as well as people who practice gratitude tend to bounce back more quickly from stressors. One example of practicing gratitude is to write down two or three things each week that we are thankful for or that went well. 

7. Explore interests

We can use this time to explore new interests or reconnect with older interests that we haven’t pursued in a while. Maybe we have always wanted to take a dance class, but felt that we did not have time or maybe we loved sports growing up and haven’t participated in them years. Finding a new interest or reconnecting with an old one, provides an opportunity to create a fun outlet in our lives as well as an opportunity to meet others with similar interests. 

While going through a divorce can easily be one of the most difficult experiences of our lives, it also provides you with the opportunity for personal growth. With the right support network and coping skills, we can heal and move forward from divorce in a healthy way. Remember that with any major change, it takes a while, so it is important that we give ourselves all the time that we need to heal. 

 

7 Ways to Cope During the Holidays

When we think of the holidays, it often conjures up memories of joy and excitement as we anticipate celebrating this time of year with family and friends. But, the holidays can also be a difficult time for many who may be experiencing difficult aspects of the holiday season, such as: 

  • Spending time with toxic family members 
  • Celebrating without loved ones due to death or divorce 
  • Remembering painful holidays of the past 
  • Feeling overwhelmed with obligations
  • Experiencing financial strain
  • Feeling guilty for being less than joyful                                                                                                       

If any of these sound familiar, here are 7 ways to help you cope during the holiday season. 

Acknowledge your feelings 

When there are many demands placed on our time, we sometimes don’t pay much attention to what we’re feeling. Take time to pause and reflect on how you are feeling. If you notice that you are feeling sad, acknowledge this and remind yourself that it’s normal to feel sad when dealing with a loss or change. Make sure you’re giving yourself plenty of time to experience your feelings, especially if you are grieving a loss. 

Get support

Try to spend time with positive friends and family. It can be tempting to isolate from groups when feeling sad or stressed; however, connecting with a good friend or family member can provide some much needed support during difficult times. Invite a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile out to dinner or coffee, say “yes” to the holiday party that your neighbor is having, or organize a holiday movie night with close friends. 

Make new memories and start new traditions

Each year brings change and with change brings an opportunity for new memories. If you’ve lost a love one, develop a new holiday ritual that honors your loved one. Start new traditions with family and friends by doing things like planning a holiday dinner or get together, organizing a cookie decorating party, or driving around looking at holiday lights in your neighborhood. 

Self-care

The holidays are typically a busy time, filled with events, responsibilities, and long to-do lists. So it is no wonder that we often neglect self-care. Even though you may find yourself busy with obligations, make sure you are taking some time to take care of yourself. Make sleep a priority. Find opportunities to do the things that you enjoy, like exercise or pamper yourself with massages, facials or manicures/pedicures. Taking care of yourself also involves occasionally saying the word, “no.” If you are already feeling overwhelmed, say “no” to taking on additional responsibilities or obligations. 

Ask yourself, “What do I want?"

When the holidays are spent with family get togethers and social gatherings, we find ourselves committing to events we don't want to attend in order to make others happy. Ask yourself what is that you really want to do? If you dread going to your aunt’s house on Thanksgiving because it’s filled with drama, consider a weekend getaway instead. If you feel obligated to attend a friend’s holiday party because you've already committed to attend, find a compromise by going for a little while and then spend the rest of the evening doing something you enjoy. 

Help others

When we help others it can provide us with a new perspective and bring some meaning into our lives. The holidays bring many opportunities to volunteer and help others, whether it be donating gifts or food for families, volunteering to wrap presents for charitable organizations, visiting with elderly, or volunteering in a  soup kitchen. If you would like to volunteer, but aren’t sure where to go, visit www.volunteermatch.org and type in your zip code to find a list of opportunities in your area. 

Make a gratitude list 

Thanksgiving is not the only holiday where we can reflect on what we are thankful for. It’s easy to get bogged down by thinking of all of the negative things in our lives. Our brains are built with a greater sensitivity towards negativity, which evolved as a way to help keep us safe. To combat this, try compiling a list of everything that you are grateful for: good health, family and friends, a roof over your head, etc. 

Keep in mind that while we can’t control losses, stressors, or memories that may make the holiday season difficult, we can control how we respond to these feelings. If ever there were a time to take a breath and think about how you respond to stressors, it’s during the holidays.

Wishing you all the best this holiday season! 

Christy

How to Stay Positive When You Are Around Negative People

While ideally we would like to avoid contact with negative people, the only way to actually make that happen would be to live in a bubble or on a deserted island. Since that is not realistic, here are some healthy ways to cope with being around negative people. 

1.  Bring it back.

If you're tired of hearing about your co-worker’s latest dating disaster or family drama, make sure you’re keeping conversations work-related. When you open up conversations to non-work related topics, e.g. family, relationships, etc., you may find yourself on the receiving end of a conversation that you would rather not be a part of.

Also, when you start discussing non-work related topics, some co-workers may not know where to draw the line and inquiries into your personal life may start to become a daily ritual. Other times, people may find that when they share and confide in co-workers, negative people may use this information against them at a later time. When your co-worker starts to go down a conversation path that you would rather not travel down, politely shift the conversation back to work. 

2.  Manage expectations. 

Given your past experiences and history with certain people in your life, it is helpful to gauge what are reasonable topics to discuss and what are likely reposes that you will get. If your parents have never been emotionally supportive of your decisions, do not expect them to be able to start doing so. If your best friend has never been able to celebrate your successes along with you, it’s probably not going to be realistic for her to start doing so. Remember, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. While we would like our friends and family members to be supportive of us- the fact is some people are not capable of providing us with what we need from them. 

3. Take a time-out! 

When you are around negative people, it is important to pause and check-in with how you are feeling. If you’re at your parents’ house at Thanksgiving and have been the target of criticism for the past hour, pause and check in with yourself. How are you feeling physically and emotionally? Are your chest and shoulder muscles tight? Are you feeling exhausted?

If you notice that the current environment is affecting you, it is time to take a time-out from that environment. Find opportunities to take some alone time. Try going outside for a few minutes and practie being mindful. While outside, take in your surroundings, using your senses. For example, try listening to the sound of birds chirping, notice the bright yellow flowers, and smell the fresh cut grass. 

4.  Set boundaries.

Think of setting boundaries as knowing what your limits are and communicating them to others. Simply because someone asks you a question does not mean that you are required to answer them. If that intrusive uncle asks you why you recently broke up with your boyfriend and you don’t wish to discuss this at Christmas dinner, say something simple and direct like, "I appreciate your curiosity; however, I don’t wish to talk about it right now.” 

5.  Take a Deep breath! 

You’ve probably heard this several times before- "take a deep breath.” When we are feeling stressed, it impacts our breathing. Under duress, we may find that we are holding our breath or that our breathing has become rapid and shallow. Not only is taking deep breaths simple and quick- but it also releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals, that are natural pain and stress relievers. 

6.  Ground yourself.

When we are feeling stressed or anxious, it is helpful to ground yourself in the present moment. If you find that you are having a difficult conversation with a negative person, push your feet into the ground, this will help bring you into the present, while bringing the activation in your nervous system down. 

Why Do We Keep Negative People in Our Lives?

Sometimes being around negative people is unavoidable- although you may fantasize about quitting your job on a regular basis and escaping the energy draining boss and dramatic co-worker, it may not be realistic at the current moment. However, other times, despite the fact that we may have friends who leave us feeling awful, we find that it’s more difficult to cut the ties than we thought. So why do we choose to keep negative people in our lives? 

1.  We wait for people to change or think that we can change them. 

Maya Angelou said it best when she said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” It is rare that someone is going to change on their own without insight or motivation. In order to change, people have to be aware that their behavior is causing harm to others and they have to want to change. If someone in your life continues to do things that upset you, make sure you let them know it. However, if you tell someone how their behavior affects you and what you need from them and it still has not changed after awhile, it is not going to.

2.  We minimize their behavior.

If you find that you are frequently saying things like, “Well, what he did wasn’t that hurtful” or “Yes, but she isn’t that bad,” you may be minimizing others’ behavior. Yes, someone’s behavior could always be worse, but do you want to spend time with soeome who leaves you feeling “a little badly” vs. “very badly.” How about spending time with people who make you feel amazing! 

3.  We rationalize their behavior.

We may give others a “pass” at the way they act or treat others because we know that they have experienced difficulties at some point in their lives. We may say things like, “He acts that way because of his terrible childhood” or “She’s acting that way because she’s going though a lot right now.” Yes, our early experiences are influential in our development, but they don’t always cause a certain outcome. Not everyone who experiences difficult life circumstances treats others badly. Also, simply because someone has experienced something bad in their lives does not mean they get a “pass” to treat others badly. 

4.  We feel guilty for ending relationships.

If guilt is keeping you from ending an unhealthy relationship, ask yourself where the guilt is coming from? Do you feel obligated to a particular friend because they helped you out in the past? Do you feel guilty because this person does not have many friends? Do you feel guilty at the thought of ending a friendship because you have am extensive history with this friend? Simply because a friend has helped you out does not mean that you are indebted to them. Also, if guilty feelings or a sense of obligation are motivators for maintaining a relationship, these are not healthy or compelling reasons to maintain it. 

5.  Fear

If you have concerns about ending a relationship, ask yourself what your concerns are? Once you have identified them, ask yourself how likely they are to happen and if they were to happen would you be able to handle them? For example, are you concerned that if you were to end a friendship with a friend, that that that friend will think negatively of you and speak negatively of you to others? Are you concerned that you’ll be alone if you end a certain relationship? It is better to be alone/have fewer friends, than spend time with people who are destructive to your self-worth and well-being. 

6.  We like to feel needed.

If you have a friend who relies on you to help them with every “crisis” and then praises you for your help and for being a wonderful friend, the feeling of being needed and valued, may be a compelling reason to stay in a friendship. Feeling needed can keep us stuck in an unhealthy relationship, especially if we did not grow up in a family where we were left feeling valued. Ask yourself what are some of the possible payoffs that keep you stuck in an unhealthy relationship? 

7.  We don’t want to hurt others.

Many times, people are concerned that if they end a relationship or set boundaries with someone, that this may result in the other person becoming hurt or angry. Keep in mind that we cannot control how other people feel or behave. If you’re having difficulty mustering the courage to end a relationship or set a boundary with someone, remind yourself that maintaining a relationship in order to prevent someone else from feeling hurt, comes at a cost. 

8 Signs a Negative Person Has Invaded Your Life

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you?

  • A co-worker vents to you about how horrible their life is (this seems to happen every time you talk with them).  Afterward, you are left feeling exhausted and/or frustrated.  
  • You go to lunch with a friend who makes “honest” statements about your life that end up occupying your thoughts for the rest of the day. 
  • You are dreading attending a family get together because you know that at least one aspect of your life will be opened up for public scrutiny. 

We have all experienced negative interactions with others- whether it be family members, co-workers, neighbors, or friends. Sometimes we may hold the belief that we can retain our positive outlook on life and that negative people will not impact this. However, when we spend so much time with negative people, we may not even realize the extent of influence that others really have on us.

Not only does spending time with negative people leave us feeling exhausted, but their negative outlook may begin to rub off on us, affecting the way we feel and the way we think about ourselves, others, and certain situations. Experiencing negativity, whether in the form of thoughts or feelings affects our physical health as well. Research supports the link between negative brain activity and a weakened immune system. The first step in dealing with negative people is to recognize when they enter our lives. 

Here are some signs that you may have a negative person in your life: 

  1. You do not look forward to spending time with them. 
  2. Anticipating the interaction with them causes preemptive exhaustion. 
  3. You feel worse after having spent time around them.
  4. You make excuses not to spend time with them. 
  5. You don’t like how you act when you are around them
  6. You feel that they bring out the worst in you. 
  7. After you spend time with them, you are left feeling exhausted. 
  8. You experience unpleasant physical sensations in your body when you are around them. (e.g.Stomach knots or tightness in your chest). 

It is important to keep in mind that others’ negativity has more to do with themselves than it does with you. When people are negative, there is usually a reason behind this, whether they are aware of it. They may have learned unhealthy ways to relate to others and get needs met, or they may be experiencing some form of pain. People who are happy and confident with themselves are not mean to others. 

Here are seven ways to help you better understand negative people in your life. 

  1. They may have low self-worth and attempt to make themselves feel better by making others look badly. 
  2. These people may have grown up in negative family environments where being negative toward others is familiar to them and all that they knew. 
  3. They could be experiencing a form of jealousy that leads them to criticize others in an attempt to feel better about themselves. 
  4. Negative people often develop unhealthy ways of relating to others that they learned from their families when they were children. While growing up, gossiping and speaking negatively about others may have been a way that their family communicated with one another. Now as an adult, it may be their same way of relating and engaging with others. 
  5. Some people may have learned unhealthy ways of getting needs met as children, such as through bullying and intimidation. 
  6. They could be projecting their own unwanted feelings and thoughts onto another person, rather than dealing with those unwanted thoughts and feelings in a healthy way. For example, a man believes that he is lazy and accuses others of being lazy. 
  7. Some people may have lack social skills and are unable to realize how their words may be perceived by others. So while an inappropriate comment made by that person leaves you feeling offended, they may be left feeling confused over your response. 
  8. When we are experiencing negative emotional states, such as fear, anxiety or stress, it can be easy to become reactive, letting our feelings dictate our behavior. Through displacement, people transfer their negative feelings onto others (who did not even cause the stress) in an attempt to alleviate their feelings. For example, a man gets reprimanded at work by his boss and is unable to express what he really wants.  He then takes his frustration out on his wife by being angry and critical towards her over some insignificant thing. 

The people we surround ourselves with greatly affect us. I encourage you as you go throughout your week to notice how others affect you. How do you feel when you know you are about to see someone? Do you look forward to it? Are you dreading it? Notice how you feel when you are spending time with them. Do you feel happy, energized? Or do you have knots in your stomach or constricted muscles?

Lastly, notice the quality of your energy after having spent time with them. Do you feel better than you did before having spent time with them or do you feel exhausted after spending time with them? Our physical sensations and energy can provide us a lot of information regarding our relationships, we just need to listen to them.

Part 2 will focus on ways to deal with being around negative people. 

Simple Communication Skills to Talk about Difficult Topics

Even with the best of intentions, we often find that when communicating with our partners, the conversation can quickly escalate and get off track. Communication is complicated in that when we speak with our partner about a certain topic, we are seldom only talking about that issue. Our past experiences and relationships, as well as our fears all influence how we perceive a situation with others, in turn, influencing how we communicate. When conflict shows up in our relationship, we may become concerned that our relationship is doomed and may even consider ending it.

However, it’s not the presence of conflict in a relationship that is unhealthy, it’s how we communicate that can be. The way a couple communicates can provide information regarding the overall health of the marriage. In fact, Dr. John Gottman, the nation’s foremost marriage expert, conducted research in which he observed how couples communicate with one another and predicated with an over 90% accuracy rate, which couples would divorce. However, when couples are able to curb their need “to be right” and can approach communication from a place of mutual respect and understanding, even the most difficult issues can be discussed in a healthy manner. 

1. Talk about yourself

While talking about yourself may not sound like the best way to communicate with a partner, the key is in the the way you approach a topic. When you are feeling frustrated with your partner, try approaching it by talking about how you are feeling, rather than focusing on what they are doing. For example, rather than approaching your partner and saying, “You always leave your dirty dishes in the sink and just expect me to clean them up. You’re such a slob,” instead, try saying “I feel so frustrated when I walk in the kitchen and find a pile of dirty dishes in the sink.” When you approach your partner with criticism and with hostility, you are making it less likely to get what you want. When your concerns start with a criticism, you will meet criticism’s best friend, defensiveness.

2. Validate

When we speak with others, we want to feel heard and understood. When we validate our partners experience, we are conveying to them that their feelings are important and matter to us. For example, when your partner tells you that you have done something that was hurtful to them, you may be tempted to defend yourself at first. However, this can lead to miscommunication and tends to escalate the conversation.

The beauty of validation is that you do not have to agree with what your partner is saying in order to validate. So while you may think that what you said to your partner was not hurtful, remember that everyone’s perception is different. Simply because your partner’s perception is different from yours, does not mean that it is wrong. Rather than saying, “You're blowing what I said out of proportion; I didn’t think it was that big of a deal,” try validating their experience by saying, “I can see how making a joke about your mother in front of our friends would be hurtful to you and that was not my intention.” 

Validation is also important when our partner is talking about a difficult situation that they have experienced. For example, if your partner comes home from work and tells you that they are feeling very stressed over a situation at work, you may want to respond by helping them to problem-solve or by giving advice. However, put all of that on hold and try validating first. It’s important to demonstrate to your partner that you understand how they are feeling before you do anything else. 

3. Take a time-out

Time-outs are not just important in sports, but in communication as well. When a team takes a time-out, they slow things down in order to feel better prepared before the game resumes. The same strategy should be used in relationships. When we are experiencing conflict with a partner and notice that we are having a physical response, such as our breathing becoming rapid, our muscles tightening, our heat racing, we are experiencing a flooding of emotions and our nervous system is in overdrive. When a partner says something that triggers us, our brain perceives a threat and prepares us for fight or flight. We may feel so overwhelmed that we result in saying hurtful things to our partner or find that we just want get away from the situation.

In order to prevent this, notice the early signs that you are starting to feel flooded by tuning into your internal experience. Are you starting to feel flushed, is your heart racing, muscles getting tighter? When this happens, initiate a time-out by saying to your partner that you are feeling overwhelmed and need to take a time-out. During this time, it is important to engage in an activity that is soothing, rather than simply sit there and ruminate about what your partner has said. Engage in something relaxing to you, like taking a walk or listening to music. The key is to take a time-out for at least 20 minutes. If you need to take more time, check-in with your body to make sure you are ready to reconvene. 

4. Timing is everything

Timing is everything. This could not be more true when it comes to communicating with our partners. When we are feeling upset and need to talk to our partner, it is tempting to approach the conversation as soon as we see them.  But as tempting as this may be, if the timing is not right, the conversation is not likely to go well, which will result in further frustration. If you are waiting for your partner to come home because you need to talk to them about hurting your feelings earlier, give them some time to unwind. In other words, don’t meet them at the door with, “I need to talk to you about something that has been really bothering me all day.” Allow them some time to come home and sit down for a few minutes, before starting the conversation. If you are not sure whether it is the right time to approach a partner, one quick way is to ask them. Try saying, “I have something important that I want to talk to you about, can you please let me know when you are ready to talk.”

Also, make sure that your partner is not engaging in something else when you approach them. If your partner is watching their favorite show, it’s probably not the best time to approach them with something that is upsetting to you. If you approach them when they are engaging in something, you will only get divided attention and they may respond in a certain way simply to speed up the conversation. Also, it is important to hold off on approaching your partner with something that is upsetting to you, if you have just had a bad day. When you experiencing a negative state of mind, it is going to be pretty difficult not to displace those feelings onto your partner. If you want the conservation to go well, deal with your feelings of upset before moving onto talking to your partner about an important issue. 

5. Your partner is not a mind reader

As well as our partners know us, they are not mind readers. When we do not express our needs to our partners because we think that "they should just know," not only do we not get our needs met, but we may be left feeling resentful. If you want to go on more romantic dates with you partner, do not wait for them to bring this up, let them know what you would like. If your partner hurt your feelings, do not wait for them to recognize that you are giving them the silent treatment. Tell them that they hurt your feelings. If you want to talk to your partner about something that upset you, preface the conversation by telling your partner what you need from them. Do you need advice? Do you simply need to vent? Do you need to engage in something fun with them to get your mind off your day? 

 Conflict occurs when we are feeling upset and our partner does not meet our needs. However, since we may be needing something different, depending on the particular situation, it is important to let them know what you need in that moment. If you are needing to vent and your partner starts problem-solving, it is important to keep in mind that they were well-intentioned. If they miss the mark, validate their efforts for helping and let them know what you need in that moment. 

There is no doubt about it, communicating in a healthy manner, when discussing difficult topics is no easy feat. When we are feeling angry, it can be tempting to get a dig in at our partner, but ask yourself, "Is this going to be helpful or hurtful to the conversation?" We are human and we are not always going to get it right every time. But when you do not, give yourself an opportunity to try it again! 

What Others Think About You Is None of Your Business

“Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other opinions drown your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”  - Steve Jobs

    There’s no disputing it, we care what other people think about us. A co-worker makes a snarky comment towards you and you ruminate about it for the rest of the day, wondering what you could have done to offend her. A friend invites you to an event and you’d rather stay at home and relax after a long week, but you force yourself to go because you do not want him to be mad at you. An acquaintance makes a joke about your significant other, which puts you in a bad mood and you play over in your head, what you wish you would have said to him.

    Whether we are aware of it, others influence our thoughts, feelings, and decisions. Human beings have a strong motivation to feel accepted by others. This biological need stems back to our ancestors in which belonging to a group helped increase chances for survival. If you belonged to a group, this would ensure such things as food and protection. Of course when we take to heart what others think about us, this can be positive as well, depending on the person and the influence that he or she has. As adults, we care what our closest friends and family think of us and want to be held in positive regard by them. If the relationship is healthy, this may influence us in positive ways by making sure that we maintain a certain friendship or that we leave someone feeling cared about.

    However, caring what others think about can become unhealthy when it causes to make unhealthy decisions that are not congruent with our values or when we start to make decision based on attempts to make others happy. When we place a larger importance on what others think than trusting ourselves, this may be influenced by early experiences. For example, if you grew up not feeling accepted or validated by a parent or caregiver, you may go through life trying to gain the acceptance that you never received. While we can’t control the past or the environments in which we grew up in, we can control what we pay attention to and how we respond to others. 

1.   We have no control over what other people think of us. 

    No mater what we do or say, we will never receive acceptance from everyone. We can try to do and say everything “perfectly,” but this will not only drive you crazy and leave you feeling exhausted, it will also not lead to acceptance from everyone. When others do not like us or say hurtful things to us, it usually has more to do with them and very little to do with us. While we don’t have control over what others think, we can control the extent to how we let it affect us. 

2.   What we perceive others think about us can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

    If we think that we are viewed a certain way by others, we still start to become that. Our thinking influences our behavior, so if we think that we are perceived a certain way, we will start to behave in ways that make it true. The problem is our perceptions may not align with how we are actually viewed by others and we may start to live an inauthentic life. 

3.   People do not care as much as we think they do. 

    Go through a day and notice how often you focus on what others are doing and saying. You will probably realize that you are more concerned with your own actions than by what others are doing. The truth is, we notice our own perceived flaws more than anyone else does. 

4.   What is the worst case scenario?

    When you find yourself worrying that someone is thinking negatively about you, ask yourself what is the worst thing that could happen as a result? If they were thinking negatively of you, ask yourself what would then happen? What is the worst thing that could happen and how likely is this to actually happen? Would their thinking affect the most important things in your life, such as your relationships, your values, your passion? Even if people think negatively of us, this does not have the power to cause direct harm to us. 

9 Natural Stress Relievers

1. Breathing

Deep breathing is one of the simplest, yet most effective things we can do to help calm our bodies. Deep breathing helps by oxygenating your blood, as well as helps stops the flow of stress hormones from escalating. For a quick exercise, take five minutes, sit up in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and hands on top of your knees. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply, concentrating on your lungs as they expand fully in your chest.

2. Diet

What we eat and drink is greatly influential on our emotional state. Foods most associated with exacerbating stress are ones containing caffeine and sugar. Caffeine can cause anxiety, trigger panic attacks, and increase feelings of nervousness and irritability, while sugar may make anxiety worse or cause feelings that trigger anxiety attacks. Healthy foods like whole grains and protein can improve your mood and provide energy. Foods that have been found to be especially effective for stress-busting include blueberries, salmon, and almonds. 

3. Exercise

Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress. Exercise is a powerful stress reliever because it helps release endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling in the body. In addition, exercise has been found to increase self-confidence and energy levels, as well help improve sleep, which is often disrupted by stress. 

 4. Sleep

Sleep is one of the most important natural stress relievers. Getting enough sleep helps fuel the mind, as well as the body. While stress can certainly lead to a lack of sleep, it is also true that a lack of sleep is a cause of stress. Make it a point to get the doctor recommended seven to eight hours of sleep. Help promote better sleep by establishing bedtime rituals that signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep. In addition, try turning off the TV and getting off the computer earlier. 

5. Avoid Unnecessary Stress

    •    Learn how to say “no” – Constantly saying yes, comes with a price, whether it be less time, increased stress, or resentment. 

    •    Avoid people who stress you out – “Be with those who bring out the best in you, not the stress in you!” Limit or eradicate contact with those who bring stress.

    •    Prioritize – Look at your schedule, responsibilities, and tasks. If you are feeling overwhelmed, decide which things are urgent and which ones can wait. Put tasks that are not important at the bottom of your “to do” list and eliminate those that are not necessary. 

6. Laughter

Finding ways to incorporate more laughter into your day can be a fun and effective stress reliever. Laughter lowers cortisol and adrenaline, your body’s stress hormones, while increasing brain chemicals called endorphins that boost your mood. Try including more laughter into your life by listening to stand-up comedy, watching your favorite funny movies, or by chatting with someone who makes you laugh. 

7. Limit cell phone and internet use

Adults in the US spend more than 5 hours each day on the internet. With so much time spent on our phones and on checking e-mails, it is often hard to disengage from stressors in our life. Try carving some time out each evening where you put your phone away and get off the computer. Limiting your internet use is also a good way to cut down on mindless procrastination, freeing your time for better things. 

8. Music

Listening to music is an easy stress reliever that has a positive effect on the mind, as well as the body. Music has a calming effect because it distracts our mind, but it also produces a calming effect by lowering blood pressure and reducing the stress hormone, cortisol. When you’re feeling stressed, try taking a break and listening to your favorite music, or listen to music while doing work or other tasks. 

9. Being Mindful

Meditation is a simple stress reliever- all you need is your mind and it can be practiced wherever you are. The goal of mindful meditation is to focus your attention on the things that are happening right now in the present moment. The idea is to note what you are experiencing, without trying to change it. Not only is mediation associated with physical and emotional well-being, it is also linked with decreased levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. 

5 Tips to Deal with Worry

1.  Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than become upset about traffic, try viewing it as opportunity to listen to your favorite music or audio book, or enjoy some alone time. 

2.  Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control— particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than worrying over them, focus on the things you can control -such as the way you respond to others or healthy ways to cope with stress like going for a walk or listening to your favorite music. 

3.  Do a gratitude list. Write out three to five things you are grateful for each night before you go to bed. It is so easy to focus on all that it is not going well, that we often forget to appreciate all that is. 

4.  Schedule worry time. Do not let worry take over your day- have it make an appointment with you. Schedule “worry time” for a specific time each day and set a time limit on it to ten minutes. When it starts to show up outside of its appointment time, tell it to come back later. 

5.  Get perspective. Ask yourself how likely is is that the very thing you are worrying about will happen? Rate it from 0-100%. Then ask yourself if my worry were to actually come true, would it really be that bad? What could I do to cope or deal with the problem?