Posted on Sunday, January 15th, 2017 at 3:32 pm.
A month or two ago, we discussed Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This condition results from shorter days and colder temperatures, just to name a few reasons. Now that we’ve hit January, many people will feel SAD very sharply. The holidays are done, but they still need to be paid off. It’s cold outside. It gets dark at 4:30pm. It can be a very rough time of year, and the perfect time to lean on a professional for support.
In between counseling sessions, there are things you can do in your own home to make winter more bearable. Read on for some great ideas!
Let light into your environment
Our bodies start to crave daylight in the winter, and this deficit can make us feel very low. Open your blinds and sit closer to windows to get that much-needed daylight. If it’s stubbornly cloudy, consider investing in a light box, which is an artificial light source that can help you as much as an antidepressant.
Turn up the cheery music
Studies have shown that upbeat music can have a profound impact on mood. Even if you feel like wallowing in sad music, choose a happier playlist and feel your mood go up. It will be worth it.
Get some exercise
You’ve probably heard that exercise is beneficial. You may even depend on exercise to elevate your mood. The problem is, exercising can be a challenge in winter. It’s cold outside, and indoor options can seem limited. Do what it takes to access a facility where you can walk or run for at least half an hour under bright lights. It will lift your spirits and help you reach springtime in better emotional and physical shape.
Turn to Dr. Beth Firestein for compassionate, expert counseling services. Learn more today!
Posted on Thursday, December 15th, 2016 at 2:39 pm.
When December rolls around, some people feel excited by the prospect of the holidays. However, some people dread them. Even if you absolutely adore the holidays, they can be stressful. The change in routine, diet, and sleep can truly wreak havoc on anyone. Add in relatives or loneliness because of a lack thereof, and the holidays pack a punch. The good news is, there are things you can do to keep yourself steady and make the most of special days. Read on for some ideas to see if any will work for you!
Don’t go through the holidays just reacting to whatever happens. Instead, take control by thinking ahead and setting limits for yourself. For instance, maybe you reduce the stay at your parent’s house from four days to two. If there’s a holiday party coming up that you know will be a lot to handle, plan on stopping by for a few hours rather than attending the whole time. When you know what you want to do, you can communicate it to others and manage their expectations. That way, they won’t be taken by surprise, and you won’t have to feel bad.
Relax about the way things should be
People fail to realize just how immense the cultural pressure is during the holidays. They spend their energy trying to make their holidays what they’ve heard they should be rather than what they would enjoy. When tension, arguments, or melancholy crop up, many people try to deny them in the name of having perfect holidays. Don’t fall into this trap. Instead, acknowledge negative feelings and give yourself and your loved ones the chance to be human.
Sometimes, helpful tips just aren’t enough. Getting the help you need is essential during the holidays. Turn to Beth Firestein and let her be your ally this December. Contact our Loveland counseling office today!
Posted on Tuesday, November 15th, 2016 at 11:03 pm.
In our last blog, we discussed Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Though there has been some conflict over whether SAD is an actual condition, all you have to do is look around to see how fall affects people. While some rejoice in the cool air, dead leaves, and coming snow, others mourn the loss of light, plants, and warmth. If autumn and winter get you down instead of boosting you up, you may be experiencing SAD. Of course, people experience it on all different levels. Some just feel minor irritation, and others are almost incapacitated by it. Either way, there are solutions.
We talked about depression and how it’s the first sign of SAD. However, SAD can manifest itself in other ways as well. In today’s bog, we want to discuss them so you can discover if they’re impacting you. They are often experienced in conjunction with depression.
Symptoms of SAD
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lethargy during the day
- Less active than usual
- Sleep longer than normal and struggle to wake up
- Increased appetite, especially for carb-heavy foods
Like many emotional and mental difficulties, SAD is unavoidable for many people. The seasons change, no matter what we do! The key is understanding that there are things we can change for ourselves. There are many ways to make autumn and winter not only bearable, but enjoyable. At Inner Source, we work hard to provide world-class counseling that empowers people to experience life like they want to. Our experienced psychotherapist, Beth Firestein, has worked with hundreds of people over her many years as a counselor. She is ready to be your closest ally as the snow flies. Contact our Loveland office for an appointment today!
Posted on Saturday, October 15th, 2016 at 11:04 pm.
As we head toward winter, the Colorado air gets cooler and the sun sets sooner. For some people, this means cozy evenings and enjoying the absence of summer’s heat. However, it isn’t that way for everyone. When the plants go to sleep, the sun sets before the workday is done, and you wake up in the dark each morning, some people experience profound difficulty living daily life. It can hit them so hard they can’t function right and end up struggling through the winter. The effect of changing seasons on people is called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. It’s something that many people put up with, but you don’t have to. Inner Source is here to help!
If you aren’t sure that SAD is impacting your life, there are some signs you can watch for as we move further into the cold months. Keep in mind that SAD shows up in the fall and improves in the spring. Some people experience minor symptoms and others experience it more deeply.
A majority of people experiencing SAD feel depressed. Depression manifests itself in several different ways, and one way might be stronger for you than another. Read the following list to see if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms:
- Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
- Low mood that won’t go away
- Despair, worthlessness, guilt
- High stress and anxiety
- Withdrawing into oneself
- Reduced libido
If you’re persistently experiencing any of these symptoms, SAD may be getting a hold on you. We encourage you to make an appointment with Inner Source. The seasons will always change, but you can make this winter the best one ever with the guidance of Beth Firestein. An experienced psychotherapist, she has over a decade of experience to offer you. Contact our counseling office in Loveland today!
Posted on Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 at 12:22 am.
I’m guessing that you have a lot of people in your boat and their boat is weighed down just as much as yours. Even for those who haven’t lost jobs or had major cuts in income, the fear and stress of that possibility are there. Just ask them.
There are three issues that intertwine with your dilemma. The first issue is socioeconomic class and how “have-mores” relate to “have-lesses” around times of holiday celebrations and gift giving. The second issue concerns expectations of yourself and others and the need to be sure those are realistic in light of your changed circumstances. The third issue involves clarifying what you wish to express to those you care about and what the holidays mean to you and those you love.
Socioeconomic differences are generally a taboo subject for most people. We all know people in our personal, social and work lives who have more money or social standing than we do and others who have less. It’s hard to go from having more to having less in your own family. Often, it means not being able to do what you have been able to do for others in the past. This year, think about giving non-material “gifts” to those you appreciate: notes of appreciation, a home-cooked meal, or the invitation to spend time together sharing a meal or seeing a movie. Our time and thoughtfulness are really some of the best gifts we can give.
Next, examine your expectations. They come in two forms: the expectations we have of others and the expectations we put upon ourselves. Think about your expectations of others. I’m guessing that you probably don’t require as much material giving from those you care about as you may expect yourself to give to them, especially if you have had the means to do so. Working with our expectations and really asking ourselves whether our expectations are realistic can lead to a re-evaluation and revision that can make the situation less stressful for you and your family.
Third, your changed circumstances provide a really valuable opportunity to reflect on what the holidays mean to you and what it is that you want to communicate when you give to others. Giving material or monetary gifts can be one way of saying “I care about you, I appreciate you, and I want to give you something of myself during the holidays,” but these same messages can be communicated in many forms. Use your creativity to create new, non-monetary ways of being generous. The possibilities are endless.
Posted on Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 at 12:19 am.
Question: Money is a big issue in our family these days. In the past, we used to buy gifts for immediate family members, close friends and even a few neighbors and the postman that brings our mail. Now that our income has been cut in half due to layoffs and payments on credit card debt, we can’t afford to give as generously as we used to, but I don’t want the people I care about to feel left out or unimportant.
Posted on Monday, September 26th, 2016 at 4:26 am.
Holidays seem to bring up a lot of feelings about our relationships, especially our relationships with members of our family. Joys, losses and unresolved conflicts all float into our minds. It seems like this is definitely happening for you. It is surprisingly common for family members to become estranged from each other for any number of reasons. Some of these ruptures last days or weeks, others can last for months or even years.
It sounds like you are at a point in your life where your relationship with your sister is more important than “being right” about a conflict that happened a long time ago. I encourage you to act on your desire to build that bridge, but it is important to keep a few things in mind. First and perhaps most obvious: just because you are ready to mend the relationship doesn’t mean she is also ready.
You can extend the olive branch in several ways. You could send a card or message affirming your past positive relationship and your desire to have her in your life again. It is often helpful to offer a genuine apology for your part in a hurtful situation or you can simply open the door to a new relationship with your sister by sharing some aspect of your life with her and inviting her to do the same. This is the part you have control over. You don’t, however, have any control over what her response will be.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you are doing this out of love and to make things right. This action frees you from feelings of guilt or the pain of your part in an unresolved conflict. Unfortunately, she may or may not be in a place to accept your gesture of reconciliation. If you choose to take this risk, be sure that you are ready to accept the outcome, no matter what it may be. She may be eager to re-embrace your relationship, she may reject your invitation to connect, or she may simply not be ready to respond and do nothing. Feel good about yourself for making the effort. In the best of worlds, she will appreciate your effort and respond in kind—if not now, perhaps later.
Posted on Monday, September 26th, 2016 at 4:25 am.
Question: My sister and I had a fight about 3 years ago and we haven’t talked since that time. The issue we fought about, which seemed really important at the time, doesn’t seem so important now. I think about her a lot, especially around the holidays. I want to reach out to her but I don’t know how and I’m afraid she will reject me. How can I build a new bridge between my sister and me?
Posted on Monday, September 26th, 2016 at 4:23 am.
It sounds like you have a loving but difficult relationship with your family. You will probably need to make a choice this year between spending the holiday with your family or with your boyfriend’s family due to the distance between the households. Of course, there is also the option of having an independent Thanksgiving and spending that time with your boyfriend and some of your mutual friends.
Here are some factors to consider in making your decision.
1) Are there any special reasons that it would be important to go to your family’s Thanksgiving this year, rather than his family’s gathering? Some reasons might be that this is the only year (or last year) that certain members of your family will be at Thanksgiving. This could be due to a family member having a terminal illness, a relative who will be moving to live abroad, or a special relative you really want to connect with who is rarely at your family’s gathering.
2) How well do you feel you can handle the inevitable stress associated with seeing your family this particular year? If you are in a pretty good place and don’t have too many external stressors in your life, this might be a good year to participate in the family Thanksgiving. Another year might not be so good. Perhaps you can create a new set of expectations with your family around this tradition. Instead of attending your family’s Thanksgiving every year, perhaps you could alternate spending Thanksgiving with your family, your boyfriend’s family and possibly even going away for Thanksgiving or celebrating with your own friends some years.
3) You love your family, even if you don’t always like them. You should think carefully about the fact that you love them and want to have some kind of meaningful relationship with them and how this balances against your own separate needs and comfort or discomfort in being around them. Sometimes it is more important to express our love through action even if this produces some discomfort than it is to avoid that discomfort entirely. It may be a matter of scale: how severe the discomfort and the relative importance of being with your family on the holiday.
Keep in mind that you can also carve out quality time to spend with your family at other times, either near the holidays or in between the holidays. These times can sometimes be less stressful and more time-limited: a few hours rather than all day or all weekend. I would also suggest considering your boyfriend’s feelings and the how his family feels about being with the two of you on the holidays. If this is also important to him and to his family, it is also important to take his family’s needs into account. These decisions are complicated and require self-honesty and communication. Whatever you decide let your families know with tact and kindness.
Posted on Monday, September 26th, 2016 at 4:22 am.
Question: I love my family, but sometimes I really don’t like them very much and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. My parents live about 2 hours away. I am 33 years old, I work full-time and I am in a good relationship with my boyfriend of 3 years. He doesn’t mind going to see my family for Thanksgiving, but it is stressful for me. It’s more enjoyable to be around his family and they live a few hours away in the opposite direction from my parents. What should I do?