Tell-Tale Signs that You Have a Shopping Addiction

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It’s one thing to surrender to the occasional impulse buy a watch gleaming from behind the display case, or a pair of black shoes that will add the perfect dash of sophistication to your favorite business suit. But when your purchases shift from impulsive to compulsive, it’s the first sign that you might be grappling with a more serious condition: a shopping addiction.

Researchers estimate that up to 6 percent of Americans are so-called “shopaholics”. And with retailers ramping up their promotions on television and even more intensely online, this number is constantly on the rise over the last five years. In our society, the phrase “shop till you drop” translates as frivolous and fun, but when spending presents a real problem, the glamor fades rapidly.

Professional counselors and therapists are seeing it all-too-often and call it “Compulsive Buying Disorder”, which is characterized as an impulse-control issue, just like gambling or binge eating, and has the potential to create a whirlwind of emotional and financial distress.

Are you or a loved one a shopaholic and addicted to spending?

The following seven signs represent a potential problem. Of course, there are more signs to watch out for but if a few from the list below stands out, we highly encourage people to contact a professional therapist.

1. You have many unopened or tagged items in your closet.

We’re not talking about the sweater your aunt gave you last holiday season, but about items you selected on your own that sit unopened or with their tags still attached. You likely even forgot about some of these possessions. These may include boxes of shoes lining the bottom of your closet or jackets that have never seen the light of day. Any unopened item, or stacks of products stowed away in closets or around your house represent a potential problem.

2. You often purchase things you don’t need or didn’t plan to buy.

You’re easily tempted by items that you can do without. A fifth candle for your bedroom dresser, a new iPod case, even though yours is fine. You get the idea. You’re particularly vulnerable if you’ve admitted to having an “obsession,” like shoes or designer handbags. Just because your splurges tend to stick to one category doesn’t make them any more rational.

3. An argument or frustration sparks an urge to shop.

Compulsive shopping is an attempt to fill an emotional void, like loneliness, lack of control, or lack of self-confidence. Shopaholics also tend to suffer from mood disorders, eating disorders, or substance abuse problems. So, if you tend to binge on comfort food after a bad day, professional therapists will probably suggest that you may be more likely to indulge in a shopping spree too.

4. You experience a rush of excitement when you buy.

Shopaholics experience a “high” or an adrenaline rush, not from owning something, but from the act of purchasing it. Therapists say dopamine, a brain chemical associated with pleasure, is often released in waves as shoppers see a desirable item and consider buying it. This burst of excitement can become addictive. This action is repeated in order to induce the adrenaline, over and over again.

5. Purchases are followed by feelings of remorse.

This guilt doesn’t have to be limited to big purchases, either; compulsive shoppers are just as often attracted to deals and bargain hunting. Despite any remorse that follows, though, shopaholics are adept at rationalizing just about any purchase if challenged.

6. You try to conceal your shopping habits.

If you’re hiding shopping bags in your daughter’s or son’s closet or constantly looking over your shoulder for passing co-workers as you shop online, this is a possible sign that you’re spending money at the expense of your family, your loved ones, or even your job.

7. You feel anxious on the days you don’t shop.

It’s one thing to feel anxious if you haven’t had your morning cup of coffee, but if you’re feeling on edge because you haven’t swiped your debit card all day, you should be concerned. Shopaholics have reported feeling “out of sorts” if they haven’t had their shopping fix, and will typically admit to their therapists that they go shopping online if not able to physically pull away from their day’s responsibilities.

If the characteristics above sound a lot like you or someone you know, consider speaking to a professional prior to a shopping addiction getting even more severe. And if you’re on the fence about whether you really have a problem, trying to figure out on your own why you’re always shopping and how you can change could be a big relief – for both your well-being and your budget, definitely consider contacting a licensed therapist immediately.

Some recommendations to help you kick a shopping habit in conjunction with professional therapy may be:

Find a new activity.

 Jogging, exercising, listening to music, and possibly watching more TV to entice your brain with different stimulation. Any of these activities could potentially substitute for shopping and would be a much lighter burden on your wallet.

Identifying triggers. 

Take note of what’s likely to send you off to the nearest department store; whether it’s an argument with your significant other or frustration after a business meeting. When these feelings overcome you, resist shopping at all costs and find a healthier way to work it out.

Remove temptation. 

It’s no secret that you shouldn’t walk through your favorite boutique if you’re trying to curb your spending. Try to limit your shopping trips and go only when absolutely necessary. If online shopping is your weakness, resist the urge to surf your favorite stores’ sites and even consider keeping your laptop out of reach.

Carry only enough cash to buy what you went for.

Leave your debit and credit cards at home. Create a shopping list with estimated costs, and stick to it when you’re at the store.

Ask for help. 

If you’re still struggling with compulsive spending, don’t be afraid to ask a professional therapist for help. You can start with self-help books or by asking a friend or family member to help keep you in check, but it is always most cost-effective and wiser to enlist professional help. A therapist can help you nip this problem in the bud, efficiently and with positive decision-making techniques.

If you or a loved-one are experiencing patterns of a shopping-related addiction, please contact our highly experienced team of professionals today, at Foundations Counseling.

Your Teenager’s Tech Use in Texas Should Be Monitored for Best Mental Health Outcomes

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As the most prominent therapists counseling group in McKinney, Texas, there are things that we know and still discovering when it comes to a teenager’s use of technology. For the last few years, our expert therapists have seen a spike in situations with parents concerned about their teen’s tech use. We work with pre-teens and teenagers, including the parents, on how to monitor “too much tech.” From McKinney to Allen to Plano to Melissa to Princeton, Texas the subject comes up more often than anyone communicates, openly.

Anxiety and Mental Health Issues in Youth

With anxiety and mental health issues in youth on the rise over the last few years in McKinney, Texas and the surrounding communities within Texas at large, parents and educators have scrambled to find the culprit. A likely issue is a combination of an abundance of new technology and smartphones.

The rise in the ubiquity of smartphones or tablets has coincided with the rise in psychological distress among teens, and there are more than a few intuitive reasons to believe the two trends are connected. Smartphones and social media have given teenagers in Texas, who are in the process of developing a sense of self, an unbridled ability to compare themselves and new mediums through which to be bullied by “angsty” peers.

Throw in the ability to escape from the world and its problems anywhere they go through games, movies, and other forms of media, and it is easy to see why parents in Texas are concerned that smartphones may be destroying a generation.

Correlations Between Teenagers in Texas Using Too Much Tech

Our team of certified and licensed therapists at FoundationsCounseling in McKinney, Texas, understand the validity of these concerns and related worries. With a topic such as mental health that has so many determinants, it is important to be cautious about assuming that a correlation confirms our hypotheses and look instead to what the research says about the importance of a particular variable.

Thus far, the research has been mixed: many studies have confirmed the correlation, but none have found a causal link that can confirm technology or social media are leading to an increase in teen mental health issues.

The association between increased digital technology use and psychological distress is well documented. Psychological distress in general has increased in the United States over the last 10 years.At the same time, smartphone consumerism and ownership has also increased from 35% to 81%.

This increase has been especially pronounced for Generation Z, the generation that has grown up with smartphones. Individual-level survey data show similar correlations, with data from multiple surveys across different locations in Texas and years showing that increased digital technology use is associated with increased psychological distress for individuals.

It could be that increased screen time is causing mood disorders, but it could also be that teens with mood disorders are more likely to spend time in front of screens. Published research in psychology has not yet produced a study that clarifies this relationship and confirms that it is indeed increased digital technology use that leads to mental distress, and not vice versa. Yet, we are told confidentially by teens and parents alike in Texas, that anxiety begins to develop usually with the use of social media, video games, and constant texting even during school.

Texan Teens Use the Term Digital Technology

Digital technology can take on many forms and mediums, each with different effects on the human psyche. Using technology to webcam a long-distance relative, for example, will likely alleviate feelings of loneliness, whereas spending hours scrolling through Instagram may exacerbate one’s social anxiety.

Mental health is similarly broad, with technology affecting different aspects asymmetrically. It is documented that some teens may turn to Netflix to help boost their happiness through TV shows and providing a cultural connection to others. We may never know what the effects of digital technology on mental health are, because it may be too broad of a question with different implications for different people. Whether the teenager is from Allen, Texas or Houston, Texas or even Austin, Texas, digital technology in abundance definitely takes it’s toll on the younger generation.

Negative Effect on Teens’ Sleeping Habits

One major finding is the negative effect technology has had on teens’ sleeping habits. A survey report by Common Sense Media revealed that 68% of all teens throughout the United States actually take their devices into the bedroom at night and 29% sleep with their devices in their beds.

Many studies have shown the deleterious effects of technology use before bed, as the blue light emitted by smartphones disrupts the production of sleep hormones and thus decreases sleep quality. Even more alarming for parents, 36% of teenagers wake up and check their devices at least once per night.

The survey confirms what parents may see themselves: that increased smartphone use in the bedroom, especially right before sleeping, has the potential to decrease both the quantity and quality of children’s sleep. And a lack of sleep creates a major determinant of mental stability.

Conclusion: Mental Health for Teens in Texas

Technology and mental health are complicated, and it is difficult to fully understand the relationship between the two. Some aspects of technology may have negative effects on mental health, while other aspects may have positive ones.

Part of the reason we don’t fully understand the relationship between the two is that we have not asked enough specific, targeted questions. A question about how technology is affecting sleep is one example of a good one, and there are countless others that parents can ask and observe for answers that may be unique for their child.

Whether it be wondering how technology affects their child’s ability to focus or how it affects their patience, parents should continue to closely watch for positive and negative patterns in behavior or attitude and experiment with media rules to find what fits their family’s needs.

We are here to help and specialize in working with younger generations who will usually be willing to learn how to adjust their tech habits. If you are concerned about your teenager’s use of technology and live in McKinney, Allen, Plano, Melissa, or Princeton, Texas, please contact our distinguished expert therapist team today.

Our Foundations Counseling offices are easily accessible from surrounding communities and located in McKinney, Texas.

Quitting Alcohol Isn’t Easy but Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Plays a Huge Role in A Successful Recovery

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was developed as a way to implement cognitive and behavioral changes to identify and correct problematic behaviors. Typical goals of CBT are to be able to anticipate, and identify, behavioral and cognitive problems, increasing clients’ self-control by developing effective coping strategies, and educate the client on maladaptive thinking and behaviors and promote positive change.

Understanding Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Techniques are utilized to exploring positive and negative consequences of problematic behaviors such as the negative consequences of continued alcohol use and abuse. Self-monitoring is also utilized in CBT to recognize cravings early, and identifying trigger situations that might increase the addicts’ risk for use, and developing positive strategies for coping with urges and triggers, as well as managing high-risk behaviors.

Develop Better Habits with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a form of psychotherapy. The idea is that your thinking patterns can affect your emotions and your behavior. To treat substance use disorders, you’ll need to change the way that you think and behave. This form of therapy was created by a psychiatrist named Aaron Beck in the 1960s. However, the therapy that is practiced today incorporates other techniques practiced by certified counselors who specialize in addiction disorders.

CBT helps patients identify, understand and even deal with the emotions behind their thoughts. This treatment combines both cognitive therapy and behavioral techniques. Patients become more self-aware of their emotions and their actions. They are then able to modify their behavior. With constant practice, their behaviors and reactions to stimuli become a habit. They then use this habit to recover from an addiction.

CBT will usually incorporate both a “multimodal therapy” and a rational-emotive behavioral therapy. It’s also very client-recovery centered for those dealing with alcohol and other addiction challenges. This is one of the many therapeutic approaches that are the most hands-on. Licensed therapists work with alcohol and drug abusers to change their way of thinking. This addiction recovery process will typically take many therapy sessions and is mid to longer term.

Some Crucial CBT Techniques and Tools for Alcoholics

This type of treatment relies on several different techniques. Each patient and therapist may prefer one technique over another. It may take some time for patients to master different alcohol recovery tools. Some of the most popular tools include:

  • Journaling. Writing down one’s emotions and thoughts can prove to very useful. Many patients use journaling to analyze their behaviors. They can then identify harmful behaviors and think of positive solutions for them.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation. One of the main reasons why most addicts struggle to get sober is because they can’t calm down their emotions. They often give in to cravings and urges. They also look for escapes when faced with stressful situations. CBT teaches patients how to relax by de-escalating situations. One of the easiest ways to relax is to relax one muscle group at a time. When drug and alcohol abusers are relaxed, they tend to make more logical decisions.
  • Interoceptive Exposure. Many alcoholics are afraid of certain situations. Fear can drive abuse. To get over their fear, CBT may expose patients to certain stimuli when they are in a safe environment. This teaches patients that there’s actually nothing to be afraid of. This CBT technique is a powerful coping strategy.

The unique tools in CBT can help those with a co-occurring disorder. Those struggling with a mental illness or a mental health disorder may benefit from this treatment as well. They learn how to modulate and regulate their own thinking to treat depression and anxiety disorders.

Use of CBT For Alcoholism Treatment

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in recovery from alcoholism includes various interventions, which can be used individually or in group settings, especially in alcohol abuse recovery programs.

One of the interventions is Motivational Interventions. This is where the counselor will address the motivational barriers, or treatment interfering behaviors, to change and recovery. It targets client’s ambivalence toward behavior change in regards to alcohol abuse and recovery. The motivation to overcome alcohol abuse by helping the person to live in the now and focusing on how they want to live.

This therapy involves structured conversations with therapists, which help clients increase CBT skills and tools. When the addict is in engaging their addiction, unhealthy, high-risk behaviors can be all consuming. Homework assignments and constant attention to the therapy process of learning sober behaviors are integral to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

CBT Treatment for Relapse Prevention

Relapse Prevention is a variant of CBT treatment. This therapy focuses on the identification and prevention of high-risk situations the alcoholics might encounter. This could be a favorite drinking establishment, or friends and acquaintances who have been long-term “drinking buddies”.

This therapy includes challenge the client’s expectation of their perceived positive effects of alcohol will have coupled with psychoeducation to help the client make an educated choice in a high-risk situation.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy includes learning and unlearning behaviors within the addiction. CBT is an all-immersive program that works on changing belief systems and behaviorally working to change responses to triggers both internally and externally.

These behavioral therapies and treatments can be particularly effective when coupled with pharmaceutical treatments to help reduce the effects of withdrawal. Pharmaceutical treatment can help the client get a few weeks of sobriety and take the ‘edge off’ of the initial recovery processes.

Effectiveness of CBT in recovery from alcoholism focuses on studying the thought patterns to help introspection of self, both negative and positive, the world, and future planning. Individuals involved in CBT will learn to identify cognitive distortions which cloud a person’s world view. Some distortions include all or nothing thinking where the person sees situation or event in either “black or white.”

Integrating CBT in Alcoholism Treatment

In CBT and alcoholism, the focus is on specific, attainable goals. Each session has a specific objective. The goal is to help the individual formulate a goal and a way to obtain that goal with healthy tools and skills. CBT also works on educating the individual on life skills to create their own toolbelt for success.

Rational thinking is also a part of this process where thoughts and actions are based on real, functional ideas, and to question what is happening in the person’s environment to make appropriate and rational decisions. This is extremely useful in triggering situations where oftentimes during the addiction, the addict was acting on highly emotional states, rather than rationality.

Overgeneralization or viewing a recent event as negative or a never-ending pattern of defeat. A “mental filter” is when a person only thinks about the negatives. Disqualifying the positive where only believing that “positives don’t count” because of another force. Jumping to conclusions where individuals tend to “mind read” or assume something will happen or has happened and it is true, whether or not it is. Within Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the belief is that changing your thoughts will lead to more positive thinking and improved emotions which in turn change addictive behaviors.

Effectiveness of CBT in recovery from alcoholism includes various components which utilize cognitive and behavioral changes, incentives and rewards, motivational drives, as well as beliefs for future recovery. CBT provides a support network for the recovering alcoholic to help navigate through triggering situations.

And lastly, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy provided specifically by licensed professionals helps the individual with positive thinking which can in turn foster increased levels of self-confidence and hope. CBT aids the individual in withstanding peer pressure and recognizing stressors, the therapy is also relatively cost effective, and can also aid in keeping to more normalized activities of daily living and routine.

In conclusion, CBT can benefit the recovering addict significantly as it address the emotions and thoughts of destructive alcohol addiction.

If you are an alcoholic, a recovering alcoholic, or know someone who has challenges with alcohol addictions, please do not wait. For more information and appointments, please contact the highly experienced team of professionals at Foundation Counseling today.

Depression Therapy for Residents in Texas

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What is Depression & How to Get Help if You Live in Texas?

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States. Specifically, our team works with people who live in McKinney, and the surrounding communities such as Allen, Plano, Melissa, and Princeton. Since Texas is the second-largest state, our team has been specializing in working with depressed patients for over one decade.

Overall, more than 17 million adults in the United States live with depression, according to the latest statistics. According to the 2018 SAMHSA Uniform Reporting System, Texas ranks in the top 20 for a number of mental health disorders and in the top 15 for those patients in need of treatment for depression.

Depression affects all ages, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. From the boardroom to the classroom, no one is immune to the effects of this disease. Everyone feels down or sad sometimes, but depression is more than just a case of the blues. Depression is characterized by a relentless sense of despair and sadness.

With depression, these feelings persist. Depression is a chronic condition that requires treatment and finding a licensed therapist in McKinney, Allen, Plano, Melissa, and Princeton can be a challenge. A person with depression cannot “just snap out of it” on their own, no matter where they reside. The good news is that there are many effective treatments for depression and our team of therapists based in McKinney, Texas are in constant training and updating ourselves with new certificates.

The Best Therapists for Depression Based in McKinney, Texas

In spite of the fact that depression is so prevalent amongst residents in Texas, and there are so many effective treatments for the disorder, many people today still do not reach out for help. We surmise that less than 30% of people diagnosed with depression actually get treatment. However, we are unable to say, with certainty, that the treatment being provided to patients in McKinney and communities like Allen or Plano, Texas are with certified licensed professionals.

There are many reasons why people don’t seek treatment for depression. Although we have come a long way in terms of changing the public perception of depression, there is still a stigma associated with the disorder.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), many people with depression in Texas are still discriminated against when it comes to housing, employment, and more. Another reason why people don’t seek treatment is that they may not recognize their own symptoms. Sadness isn’t the only sign that you could be struggling with depression. Some of the signs of this illness are quite surprising or subtle.

Typical Types of Depression We Work with in Texas

There are different types of depression, each with unique causes, effects, and symptoms. Since treatment differs depending on the type of depression, knowing what type of depression you have can go a long way in helping to manage symptoms.

One of our expert therapists will determine what kind of depression you have and develop a treatment plan based on that. The first step is to make an appointment with one of our therapists at the Foundations Counseling offices in McKinney, Texas.

Major Depressive Disorder is Urgent

When people use the term depression, they are typically referring to major depressive disorder. To be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, you would need to have five or more of the above symptoms for a period of at least two weeks. There are several different subtypes of major depression.

Below are a few of the most common ones we often see with clients living in Texas.

With seasonal pattern.

This subtype of major depression is often referred to as (SAD) seasonal affective disorder. People in Texas with this type of depression only experience symptoms during one part of the year, typically during fall or winter. The symptoms go away during the rest of the year when it’s sunny and we have great weather in McKinney, Allen, Plano, Melissa, and Princeton, Texas.

With peripartum onset.

Depression with peripartum onset refers to depression that begins sometime during pregnancy to four weeks after delivery. This type of depression is also known as “postpartum depression.”

With psychotic features.

Depression with psychotic features is a type of depression that also includes symptoms of psychosis, such as delusions or false beliefs and hallucinations, which refers to seeing or hearing things that are not real. If you, a friend, or a family member in the surrounding communities living in Texas are experiencing something similar, we recommend to contact Foundations Counseling, immediately.

With anxious distress.

This type of depression also features symptoms of anxiety. The person must have at least two of the following symptoms of anxiety to be diagnosed with this type of depression: feeling on edge or keyed up, difficulty concentrating because of worry, feelings of restlessness, and fear of losing control.

With atypical features.

Sometimes called atypical depression, this subtype includes the following specific symptoms: increased appetite or weight gain, sleeping too much, feeling weighed down, and being really sensitive to criticism or rejection.

If you, a loved one, or a friend are experiencing depression and located in McKinney, Allen, Plano, Melissa, Princeton, or even Dallas Fort-Worth, Texas and able to visit to our offices, please contact Foundations Counseling today.

How Therapy Can Help With Overeating and Food Addiction

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Many struggling dieters actually suffer from binge eating disorder, and could manage their condition—and lose weight—with the help of a licensed counselor. Eating disorders and overeating are one of the subtler addictions that very few people tend to talk about.

The Numbers Are Overwhelming.

One out of every 35 adults suffer from binge eating disorder, almost twice the combined rate for anorexia and bulimia. It is characterized by repeated episodes of eating large quantities of food quickly and to the point of discomfort; a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; and guilt following the binge, but without any consistent purging behavior. Up to 40 percent of people trying to lose weight suffer from Binge Eating Disorder, and up to 70 percent of patients with Binge Eating Disorder are medically obese.

The good news is that Binge Eating Disorder is highly treatable, particularly with the help of cognitive behavioral therapy: Nearly 80 percent of patients abstain from bingeing after 20 sessions. And, unlike most calorie-restricting diets, the success of cognitive behavioral therapy holds for many patients over time.

However, a 2013 study in Biological Psychiatry found that less than half of lifetime bingers receive treatment. There are millions of overweight Americans who could find actual sustainable help with their eating issues – and not berate themselves for a lack of “willpower” – if more people could simply identify the disorder and find the correct counselor for treatment.

Binge Eating Addiction Does Not Discriminate.

Binge eating addiction is an equal opportunity disorder, affecting men, women, young, old, and all races. However, the Netflix eating disorder film To the Bone is a microcosm of the short shrift binge eating is given in popular culture. The movie focuses on a waifish, big-eyed anorexic staying in a residential treatment home, zooming in to focus on one patient with a feeding tube and a bulimic.

The presence of binge eating is hardly acknowledged in the film; one overweight character, Kendra, suffers from it, but she has an unexplained jar of peanut butter throughout, as her main companion. At one point, Kendra tries to join a conversation with fellow patients but a rude housemate shuts her down with “Sorry: This conversation is for rexies only.”

Even though in real life the bingers far outnumber anorexics, popular culture seems far more fascinated by the idea of wasting away.

 

The Mental Disorder Was Only Recently Established in 2013.

Part of the issue is binge eating addiction’s relative newness on the mental-health scene: It was only recognized as a formal diagnosis by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) in 2013.

Somebody who really should be in therapy goes to an individual therapist and gets frustrated, similar to drug addiction. Oftentimes, patients will give up and go back to dieting. It’s almost like trying to treat cancer with vitamins. By having a commitment to cognitive therapy is of paramount importance to an individual’s successful treatment.

Successful treatment of overeating addiction is not always synonymous with dramatic weight loss, but eliminating the habit of consuming thousands of calories at a time on a regular basis typically results in modest weight loss. And even if it doesn’t, it’s still a major health improvement to cut back on the types of foods people typically binge on (like pizza or meaty breakfast sandwiches or ice cream), the sodium, fat, and sugar of which are hard on the body.

When you eat big volumes of food, particularly foods that are highly processed, which is what most people binge on, it causes a lot of stress on your body. The inflammation in your body affects everything from your cardiac status to your brain to your bones and your joints. It eventually compounds any health risk.

How Therapists Can Help.

If you have difficulty with overeating, you may wonder whether Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help you stop your problem behaviors and food addiction. This example puts you in the place of a fictitious person who has characteristics and circumstances often seen in people who come for treatment for food addiction. This can show you what happens in CBT and how it can help people stop overeating.

Overeating and Binge Eating Behaviors.

You are a binge eater who binges on candy, cookies, and chocolate several times a day. Your overeating started in childhood when you would eat candy in secret at night. You describe your binges as emotional eating because you eat when you felt upset.

You do everything you can to prevent weight gain, including skipping regular meals, exercising for hours, using laxatives to “clear yourself out,” and occasionally, making yourself vomit. Your family doctor became concerned that you were developing problems with incontinence from laxative overuse, and referred you to CBT to help you stop overeating.

Overeating Due to Emotional Reasoning.

Your cognitive-behavioral therapist guides you in recording the thoughts and feelings you experience before, during and after bingeing on sweet food. By analyzing the thoughts and feelings you have around food, you and your therapist come to understand that you have become addicted to food because of a type of faulty thinking called emotional reasoning.

As your weight has increased, your self-esteem has worsened. Many timesper day, you would interpret small chance occurrences as reasons to feel bad about yourself. Once you start keeping track of your thought processes, you realize how often this is happening.

For example, if someone pushed in front of you in line, you would feel that this must mean you are a worthless person, and you would immediately buy a bar to chocolate to eat and make yourself feel better. One day, a colleague didn’t respond when you said “Good morning,” and you reasoned this was because your colleague disliked you. At your first opportunity, you made an excuse to slip out and buy a pack of cookies and ate the whole pack. Your performance review at work was rated “good,” and you thought that anything less than “excellent” meant you were terrible at your job, so you spent the evening eating cake and ice cream.

Each time a minor disappointment of this sort occurred, which was almost daily, you would go to your secret stash of chocolate or head to the grocery store for a binge. In spite of this well-established pattern of behavior, although you wanted to stop overeating, you just did not know another way to handle your uncomfortable feelings of worthlessness.

Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Treat Food Addiction.

The CBT therapist explains to you that your binge eating is based on emotional reasoning and, although eating might make you feel temporarily comforted, would not help you feel better about yourself. In fact, overeating was having the opposite effect and was actually making you feel worse about yourself, which would then worsen your overeating.

Together, you plan a different approach to handling disappointment. With practice, you are able to interpret people’s responses more realistically, so you are not constantly feeling inadequate. You also practice methods for improving your self-esteem. As your self-esteem improves, you became more able to refrain from snacking and bingeing and began to eat more nutritious food.

If you believe that you are addicted to food and an overeating disorder, or you know someone who may need help, please contact Foundations Counseling today.

Urgency Matters When It Comes to Marriage Counseling

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When it comes to marriage counseling or couples counseling, timing is everything if you want to save your relationship. We often hear, “Can my marriage be saved?” or “Can you help us decide if we should stay together?”

While these are always complicated questions, our answers are usually something like: “Marriage counseling is hard work and there are no guarantees. But you are wise to invest the time to find out if your marriage can be improved.”

Truth be told, the effectiveness of marriage counseling is directly related to the motivation level of both partners and timing. For some couples, marriage counseling is really divorce counseling because they’ve already thrown in the towel. For instance, one or both partners may have already decided to end the marriage and he/she uses the counseling as a way to announce this to their partner.

Sometimes, the problems in a marriage can be too ingrained and longstanding for the counseling to be effective. For others, they don’t honestly share their concerns with the therapist.Further, it’s important to choose a therapist who has experience working with couples and who is a good fit for both you and your partner. If both partners don’t feel comfortable with the therapist, this can negatively impact progress; or one person may prematurely drop out.

Timing is an essential element in whether marriage counseling works. Unfortunately, most couples wait much too long to reach out for help repairing their marriage.

According to many relationship and marriage counselors, couples wait an average of six years of being unhappy before getting help. Think about this statistic for a few minutes. Couples have six years to build up resentment before they begin the important work of learning to resolve differences in effective ways.

7 tips to help deal with differences between you and your partner:

  1.  Create a relaxed atmosphere and spend time with your partner on a regular basis so you can communicate about your desires and objectives.
  2.  Don’t give up personal goals and the things you love to do such as hobbies or interests. This will only breed resentment.
  3.  Support one another’s passions. Accept that you won’t always share the same interests. Respect your partner’s need for space if they want to go on a vacation without you, etc.
  4.  Learn to resolve conflicts skillfully. Don’t put aside resentments that can destroy a relationship. Couples who try to avoid conflict are at risk of developing stagnant relationships, which can put them at high risk for divorce.
  5.  Establish an open-ended dialogue. Listen to your partner’s requests and ask for clarification on points that are unclear. Avoid threats and saying things you’ll regret later.
  6.  Avoid the “blame game.”Take responsibility for your part in the problems and accept that all human beings are flawed in some way. The next time you feel upset with your partner, check out what’s going on inside yourself and pause and reflect before you place the blame on them.
  7.  Be realistic about a time-line for change.It takes more than a few sessions to shed light on the dynamics and to begin the process of change.

What are the Benefits of Therapy in a Timely Manner?

Couples come to therapy for any number of reasonsin addition to infidelity, communication, money, and major life changes such as hostility or even starting a family. Couples therapy is also a good idea if one of you is coping with an issue that might be affecting your relationshipsuch as depression, or simply if you’re feeling stuck and stagnant in your relationship.

Therapy can provide a safe space to talk about sensitive topics. Couples can get caught in a negative relational cycle. For example, communication is a big concern for the majority of couples. But simply talking with each other more isn’t the answer. There is communication, and then there’s effective communication.

You might also consider couples therapy to help support you at times of major life change and transition. Getting married, becoming parents for the first time, moving, changing jobs, losing jobs, becoming empty-nesters, coping after extramarital affairs, recovering from addiction, caring for aging parents are all transitions that can destabilize a couple’s equilibrium.

And don’t discount the value of couples’ therapy in helping you and your partner dig yourselves out of a rut. ‘Feeling stuck’ can shift if both parties are willing to compromise in a way so that individual needs are met. Professional counselors can definitely help and typically, the sooner the better is the recommendation.

How can marriage counseling help couples?

  • When toxic relationship patterns can be identified early and agreed upon, the process of real change can begin.
  • A motivated couple can begin to explore their problems from a new perspective and learn new ways to recognize and resolve conflicts as a result of the tools provided by the therapist. 
  • Partners can begin to build trust and improve communication that may have eroded the quality of their interactions.
  • A couples’ counselor can provide “neutral territory” to help couples agree upon and work through tough issues with support.
  • Couples can decide to rebuild their marriage and make a renewed commitment, or clarify the reasons why they need to separate or end the marriage.

To reiterate, we believe that seeking help from a counselor is not unlike seeking help from a mechanic. It makes little sense to take your car into the shop a month after it started making a horrific noise. By that time, too much damage may have been done and your engine may be beyond repair.

By the same token, the effectiveness of marriage counseling is directly related not only to the willingness and motivation of both parties to put in the effort, but also to the timing. The time to consider marriage counseling is not when one (or both) people have already thrown in the towel.

Based on our expert counseling experience, friendship is the glue that can hold a marriage together. Couples who know each other intimately and are well-versed in each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes, and dreams are couples who make it.

For more information about how one of our Foundations Counselors can help improve your relationships or marriage, please do not hesitate to contact us today!

Warning Signs to Watch for When Substance Abuse Intervention is Needed

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Approaching a loved one about their addictions and substance abuse issues is an incredibly tough thing to do. However, taking the brave step of making a substance abuse intervention can be vital in changing someone’s life. Helping to set them on the right path to a healthier and happier future is paramount. The best approach is working with a licensed counselor prior to the intervention. What’s more, working with a counselor during the actual intervention and post-intervention with the afflicted individual will prove to offer a more successful outcome.

One of the biggest challenges that people face in approaching an addict is that they are very likely to deny that they have a problem in the first place. You may find that you are met with hostility or even a degree of anger, as it is very difficult for a substance abuse intervention to not come across as accusatory. As much as addressing a loved one as an “addict” is difficult to conceive, being called one is even more difficult to accept.

Given this reality, it is rare to be able to just come out and ask someone if they have a problem with alcohol or drugs and get a straight answer. Much more likely is that you will have to do some detective work in order to find out if someone you love needs an intervention and work with a licensed counselor, pre-intervention.

The big question most people will ask our staff is, “When do you know if it’s time for an intervention for alcohol or substance abuse?”

7 Tell-Tale Signs there is a Substance Abuse Problem

1. Deceptive Behavior

They will attempt to hide their behavior. They may do this by hiding bottles of alcohol, or showing up to social occasions already intoxicated. So, they may not actually appear to drink too much in public, or hiding their medications in unmarked bottles so you can’t identify them as addictive substances.

During a substance abuse intervention, you can address the deception and move the addict towards seeking substance abuse treatment.

2. Tolerance

One of the biggest signs that someone needs to see a counselor and have an intervention is if their tolerance is increasing.

If the person you’re worried about needs a lot more alcohol or substance to get the effect they are seeking, they may be addicted. When a body receives something a lot like alcohol, it develops a tolerance and the body requires more to get the feeling that the person is after.

3. Memory Fog

When someone doesn’t remember what they did or said when under the influence, they’re usually abusing substances.

This is called blacking out and during these periods of time, the person struggling with alcohol or drug addiction will not recall anything they do. This is a red flag and a licensed therapist should be called if this happens more than once or twice.

When you’re planning an intervention for abuse, these situations and memories can bring to light the struggle the addict is facing and doesn’t remember.

4.Financial Troubles

Is the person you’re worried about spending all their money on substances whether they be alcohol, drugs, or even prescription drugs? Does their money seem to disappear every week?

Addicts are good at manipulating others to feed their addiction, but in the end, the financial troubles will be noticeable.

Addicts may increasingly ask to borrow money from their family or friends, and offer varying reasons for their request. Increased levels of debt and unpaid bills can be a sign that they are spending more than they should on their habit.

Our counselor team suggests that if you’ve been enabling someone with their addiction and providing them with money or drinks, let them know that is ending. Tell them that if they’re looking for money, the only money you will put towards them is money for an abuse intervention or counseling.

5. Moody

Do they exhibit irrational behavior and mood swings? Are they deceptive and increasingly involved in risky behavior?

People with any substance problem often switch from being angry, depressed, manically happy, miserable, hostile and the list continues. You will never know what type of person they will be when you next see them.

6. Anti-Social

We often see that people struggling with alcohol or drugs end up isolating themselves and prefer to be at home alone. One reason they do this is that they may be aware they’re addicted and don’t want others to see them intoxicated. Another reason they want to be alone is so that others can’t tell them to stop drinking.

An Intervention for abuse may be the first time in awhile that the addict is in the room with their loved ones at the same time. It may be their first-time ever with a counselor. Knowing that they aren’t alone and people are willing to help them break through this addiction is an important step in the abuse intervention process.

7. Mental Health Problems

Some issues that perhaps were once mild and infrequent begin to get much worse. It is normal to feel a little down sometimes, but as the addiction progresses, mental health issues often get magnified and are easier to pick up on.

Dependency on their vices often takes a toll on a person’s self-esteem, causing depression and social anxiety.

Don’t Wait, Take Action

If your loved one is displaying any of these signs in addition to others, then it could be time for you to take action and seek out the right setting for an intervention with a licensed counselor. Of course, it is always a good idea to talk to family members and other friends, in order to gather further information and share each other’s views. You’ll definitely have a clearer indication about whether to intervene if you all share the same concerns. There is no need for you to confront the person alone – whether they are your friend, parent, partner, or child.

Interventions are often thought of as last resorts, and it may be a challenge to present them in a way that is confrontational or accusatory. However, a degree of hostility is often to be expected. Nobody enjoys having someone point out their failings or shortcomings, and this is especially true of an addict who may be in denial about their situation.

Despite the difficulties in approaching this delicate subject, making the simple suggestion of seeking professional help may be the light in the dark that your loved one needs. You really never know how they may react until you try.

For more information about working with our licensed counseling staff at Foundations Counseling related to substance abuse, therapies, and interventions, please contact us as soon as possible.

Seeking Professional Support when Raising Your Grandchildren

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Did you know that 1 in 10 American children (75 million kids) are living in a household with at least one grandparent when it comes to raising grandchildren? 10 percent of all grandparents in the nation are raising their grandkids. Almost 3 million grandparents aren’t just helping. Instead, they are literally stepping in to be surrogate parents, doing the primary job of taking care of their grandchildren.

Today, there are numerous reasons why grandparents take over the responsibility of caring for their own grandchildren. If you are now raising your children’s children, you are not at all alone. In fact, you are now one of the millions of grandparents raising or helping raise grandchildren in the U.S. The situation has become common enough that there is even a name for it: Grandfamilies.

Raising Grandchildren

An important element of self-preservation is the building and maintenance of a strong support system. In addition to being demanding and exhausting, the task of caring for children can have an isolating effect on Grandma and Grandpa. Don’t allow yourself to be cut off from friends, neighbors or family members who understand what you’re up against. Nurture solid friendships. Admit that there are limits to what one person can do, and then seek some outside help.

One way to do this is to join a support group or speak to a professionally licensed counselor. In addition, depending on the situation and how you ended up caring for your grandchildren, it may be helpful for the children also. The situation may be difficult all around and a professional support network such as a therapist is the best route. A therapist will help you talk through the experience, help with the daily ups and downs, and be the best you can be for the children.

You should also make an intentional effort to get the regular relief you need in order to renew your energies. Never feel guilty about getting away for a break – an evening out with friends, dinner for the two of you at a nice restaurant, or a relaxing drive to a different environment. Refresh yourself with hobbies, outings and activities that you enjoy – a symphony, a game of golf, or an exercise class at the gym. Taking some time off for yourself is not a sign of weakness, and it will help you more than you may realize.

In addition to these strategies, we’d strongly recommend that you touch base with a professional counselor on a semi-regular or regular basis. Ideally this should be an individual who understands attachment issues. You didn’t tell us exactly how you ended up taking care of your grandkids. In most cases, it probably had something to do with events of a relatively tragic or traumatic nature such as death, divorce, mental illness, bi physical illness, incarceration, neglect or some type of abuse or addiction.

Children from troubled or unsettled backgroundsgenerally experience difficulty forming new attachments even though you may be there biological grandparents. They also are dealing with a sense of grief or loss. Since attachment and trust go hand in hand, you can expect this issue to have a significant impact on your attempts to forge a new family unit and build a safe and loving environment for the children in your home.

Whatever the reason, grandparents who return to parenting find it isn’t easy. Energy and income may be lower. Health may be more fragile. Adjusting to the schedules and the needs of children and teens can be overwhelming. How do people do it?

5 Ways to Succeed as a Grandfamily

Grandparents who manage the return to parenting are grandparents who don’t just let life happen to them. They actively work on making their Grandfamily work.

1. Embrace your new reality

Parenting again may not have been on the top of your list for how to spend your senior years. But life often has a way of taking unexpected turns. There is usually much joy to be found in raising your grandchildren once you’re able to accept and embrace the situation. Kids can keep us young. Sharing their interests and their current passions can keep us in the know about popular culture. Just when some seniors are wondering “Is this all there is”, Grandfamily adults find new meaning in raising their grandkids.

2. Acknowledge the losses.

Losses are often multiple. Whether providing full or part time care, you are giving up many of your plans and your flexibility to do the things you wanted to do. If you have assumed the parenting role because your adult child has significant problems or has abandoned the children, you are also confronting the loss of your idea of the child you thought you had or hoped they would become.

The children are also grieving. Regardless of their age and no matter how they were treated, children whose parents have dropped out of their lives often long for their parents to come back to take care of them.

Grandfamilies succeed when the adults are compassionate with themselves and the children. They allow space for talking about feelings and know how to gently guide conversations to the love children do have while acknowledging their reality. When kids act up, they see the hurt inside and help the children find more appropriate ways to express their grief.

 

3. Take care of yourself physically.

Even if you are as healthy as someone 10 years younger, you are still older than the average parent. Do what you can to take care of your health. Eat well. Get enough sleep. Get what exercise you can. You will feel better and you will be better able to keep up with the young ones.

4. Take care of your mental health too.

Grandparents raising kids often experience anxiety and depression due to the added stress. 40% of the grandmothers studied in one study had signs of psychological distress. To stay mentally healthy, reach out for information and support. Many social service agencies are now offering Grandparent Support Groups. If you find that you are feeling more anxious or down than you used to, do consider seeing a therapist.

5. Accept that times have changed.

Accepted and acceptable methods of disciplining kids also may have changed since the first time you were parenting. If in doubt, talk to a professional counselor or ask the young parents of your grandkids’ friends for more information and support.

For more information or to speak with someone at Foundations Counseling to help with a very complex situation such as raising your own grandchildren, please schedule an appointment with one of our licensed counselors today.

Coping with Grief, Loss, and Anxiety During the Holidays

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For anyone dealing with an illness, grief, loss, and subsequent anxiety it causes or the loss of a loved one, the holidays can be a time of sadness, pain, anger, or dread. It can be difficult to cope, especially when you see the sights and sounds of holiday happiness all around you.

The ebb and flow of grief can become overwhelming with waves of memories, particularly during Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Grief can also magnify the stress and anxiety that is often already a part of the holidays.

How can you begin to fill the emptiness you feel when it seems that everyone else is overflowing with joy? There are a few strategies that you can employ to help you get through this time.

Offer Yourself Some Grace 

One of the best things you can do is give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. Try not to fall prey to the belief that you have to feel a certain way or do certain things in order to make the holiday “normal.” If you feel sad, allow the tears to come; if you feel angry, allow yourself to vent some steam.

Be Kind to Yourself 

It’s important that you get the rest and nourishment you need and try not to take on more than you can handle. If you need to be alone, then honor that. If you crave the company and affection of others, seek it out. Do whatever feels right to you during this difficult time.

Ask For and Accept Help 

The holiday season is no time to feign strength and independence when you’re grieving a death. You will need the help and support of others to get through, so don’t feel as if you are a burden. People generally receive satisfaction and even joy from helping those they care about.

After a death, people often desire to help but simply don’t know how. If you need someone to help you prepare meals, shop, or decorate, this is the time to speak up and make your needs known. Quite often, they will be delighted to feel like they are helping you in some way.

The same holds true for your emotional needs. Friends and family members might feel uncomfortable talking about your grief. They might think that you don’t want to talk about it and don’t want to be reminded of your pain.

The American Psychological Association (APA) notes that not talking about someone’s death lead to isolation and discourage those who are there to support you. Again, you will have to tell your loved ones the best way that they can help you. If you want to talk about what you’re going through, or you just need a shoulder to cry on, let them know.

Find Support

Sharing your feelings is often the best way to get through them and finding people you can talk to will help. Friendsand relativescan be a great support during times of grief. However, they might be coping with their own feelings or so immersed in the holidays that they cannot offer the support you need.

Another good option is to look for a licensed therapist for individual or group therapies. Support group members often make friends that end up being a source of comfort and care for many years to come.

A loss, whether it be a parent, sibling, child, or friend is a very personal matter. Your loss seems like the worst possible thing that could have happened to youand it can be exponential during the holiday season.

When you lose a significant person from your life, whatever the relationship, it hurts and nothing takes away from your right to feel the loss and grieve the absence of that person from your life.

Make a Difference

Many people like to help others in large or small ways during the holiday season. We may drop our change in a charity basket, purchase a gift for a needy child, or donate to a favorite organization. This can help us feel like we are contributing to the greater good.

Likewise, helping improve the lives of others can help take the focus off your loss.Many studies demonstratethat volunteering can be beneficial to our mental health, particularly as we ageand also during the holidays.

Consider volunteering at a nursing home, hospital, hospice, children’s shelter, or soup kitchen. You can also find a way to help another family member or friend who may need it. Any of these things can prove cathartic and help in the healing process.

Don’t Make Comparisons

It’s easy to see other people or families enjoying holiday festivities and compare their experience to what you feel during this difficult time. This may make you feel worse or that you’re lacking in some fashion.

Keep in mind that the holidays are stressful for most people and they are rarely the “magical” gatherings depicted in greeting cards, movies, or on television. Try to embrace what you have rather than compare it to what you think others have.

A Word From Foundations Counseling

As difficult as it seems, you will survive the holidays in one piece. Because of your grief, this holiday might prove to be a very difficult experience. However, you will get through it and come out on the other side stronger than before. You don’t necessarily have to enjoy the holidays or even go through the motions of pretending to enjoy the festivities.

That said, it’s also fine to have a good time in spite of your grief. If happiness slips through your window of grief, allow it to happen and enjoy it. You won’t be doing your loved one an injustice by feeling joyous. The best gift you can give anyone you love is that of being true to yourself and living your life to the fullest, even as you adjust to the loss and remember your loved one.

If you may be experiencing symptoms caused by grief and loss during the holiday season or for more information about the positive effects of counseling for grief and loss, please contact Foundations Counseling today.

Managing Typical Stressors During the Holiday Season

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Welcome to the holiday season and holiday stress! This is the time of year when the whirlwind of gift-giving holidays, marketing blitzes, holiday parties, and activities galore begins right after Halloween, builds to Thanksgiving and continues gaining momentum through the end of the year.

While this season is meant to bring feelings of love and cheer, it’s also the harbinger of holiday stress for many. In fact, according to most health data surveys, more than 80% of us find the holiday season to be ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ stressful.

Doing Too Much

“All things should be done in moderation”, as the saying goes. The problem with the holiday season is that we often experience too much of a good thing. While stress itself is necessary for our survival and zest for life (some may call this a positive type of stress) too much stress definitely has a negative impact on us, both mental and physical. Too many activities, even if they are fun activities, can culminate in too much holiday stress and leave us feeling frazzled, rather than fulfilled.

Eating, Drinking, and Spending Too Much

An overabundance of parties and gift-giving occasions lead many people to eat, drink and be merry, often to excess. The temptation to overindulge in spending, rich desserts or alcohol can cause many people the lasting stress of dealing with consequences (debt, weight gain, memories of embarrassing behavior) that can linger long after the season is over. Also, in these more difficult financial times, finding affordable gifts can be stressful in itself, and carrying holiday debt is a tradition that too many people unwittingly bring on themselves, and the stress that comes with it can last for months.

Too Much Togetherness

The holidays are a time when extended families tend to gather. While this can be a wonderful thing, even the most close-knit families can overdose on togetherness, making it hard for family members to maintain a healthy balance between bonding and alone time. Many families also have roles that each member falls into that have more to do with who individuals used to be rather than who they are today, which can sometimes bring more dread than love to these gatherings.

Not Enough Togetherness

For those who don’t have these family issues, loneliness can be just as much of a problem. As the world seems to be gathering with family, those who rely more on friends for support can feel deserted and alone.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

An often-unrecognized problem that comes with the holiday season is actually a by-product of the seasons changing from fall to winter. As daylight diminishes and the weather causes many of us to spend more time indoors, many people are affected to some degree by a type of depression known as the “seasonal affect disorder.” It’s a subtle but very real condition that can cast a pall over the whole season and be a source of stress and unhappiness during a time that people expect to feel just the opposite.

Minimizing Holiday Stress

The great thing about holiday stress is that it’s predictable. Unlike many other types of negative stress that we encounter in life, we know when holiday stress will begin and end, and we can make plans to reduce the amount of stress we experience and the negative impact it has on us.

Tips to Reduce Holiday Stress

The following are some tips you can try to help reduce holiday stress before it begins so that it remains at a positive level, rather than an overwhelming one.

1. Set Your Priorities

Before you get overwhelmed by too many activities, it’s important to decide what traditions offer the most positive impact and eliminate superfluous activities. For example, if you usually become overwhelmed by a flurry of baking, caroling, shopping, sending cards, visiting relatives and other activities that leave you exhausted by January, you may want to examine your priorities, pick a few favorite activities and really enjoy them, while skipping the rest.

2. Scale It Down

If you can’t fathom the idea of skipping out on sending cards, baking, seeing people, and doing all of the stuff that usually runs you ragged, you may do better including all of these activities in your schedule, but on a smaller scale.

Send cards, for example, but only to those with whom you maintain regular communication. Or, don’t include a personal note or letter in each one. Find a way to simplify. The same goes for the baking—will anyone be enraged if you buy baked goods from the bakery instead? If you find ways to cut corners or tone down the activities that are important to you and your family, you may enjoy them much more.

3. Be Smart With Holiday Eating

During the holidays, we may want to look and feel great (especially if we’re around people we don’t see often—we know that this is how we’ll be remembered), but there is so much temptation in the form of delicious food and decadent desserts, and a break from our regular routines—plus the addition of emotional stress—can all add up to overeating, emotional eating, and other forms of unhealthy eating. This year, plan ahead by being aware of your triggers, do what you can to have some healthy food at hand for each meal, be aware of your intake, and practice mindful eating.

4. Change Your Expectations for Togetherness

With family and friends, it’s important to be aware of your limitations. Think back to previous years and try to pinpoint how much togetherness you and your family can take before feeling negative stress. Can you limit the number of parties you attend or throw or the time you spend at each? Can you limit your time with family to a smaller timeframe that will still feel special and joyous, without draining you?

Also, when many of us are dealing with so-called difficult relatives, it’s okay to set limits on what you are and are not willing to do, including forgoing your visits or limiting them to every other year.

For those who may experience loneliness during the holiday season, consider inviting a group of friends to your home. If virtually everyone you know is with family during the holidays, you might consider volunteering to help those less fortunate than yourself. Many people report these experiences to be extremely fulfilling, and your focus will be on what you have rather than what you lack.

5. Set a Schedule

Putting your plans on paper can show you, in black and white, how realistic they are. If you find a time management planner and fill in the hours with your scheduled activities, being realistic and including driving time and downtime, you will be able to see if you’re trying to pack in too much.

Start with your highest priorities, so you will be able to eliminate the less important activities. Be sure to schedule in some time to take a nature walk each day if at all possible, as exercise and exposure to daylight can drastically reduce or even eliminate the symptoms of “SAD.” If climate or other factors prohibit this, try to find some time to sit by a window and look out; several minutes of exposure to natural light, even if through a windowpane, can help.

6. Breathe

This sounds like a no-brainer, but sometimes we forget to take deep breaths and really give our bodies the oxygen we need. It’s great if you can take ten minutes by yourself to do a breathing meditation but merely stopping to take a few deep, cleansing breaths can reduce your level of negative stress in a matter of minutes, too. If you visualize that you are breathing in serenity and breathing out stress, you will find the positive effects of this exercise to be even more pronounced.

For more information about Managing Typical Stressors During the Holiday Season, or to speak with someone at Foundations Counseling, please schedule an appointment with one of our licensed counselors today.