Ways to Help Your Marriage Thrive

Ways to Help Your Marriage Thrive

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A happy, life-long marriage to one you love and who loves you is desired by many in our culture. 
In the US, by the age of 50, approximately 90% of people will have been married. Even in the face of high divorce rates in the US, our hearts and minds bend oward seeking a love for life, t and often those who experience divorce go on to find another partner for love and marriage. Even in the context of high divorce rates, infidelity, and marriage breakdowns, our hearts still yearn for the sweetness of that most intimate relationship.

In the current era, marriages are under a new set of pressures as COVID-19 continues to spread. Couples are spending more time together under one roof, intermingling work and home activities, sharing childcare, education, homecare and pet care duties, and not having the same access to previous stress-relievers such as social time with friends or vacations. While marriage is already an act of optimism given divorce rates, in the modern era of COVID, it is that much more ambitious!

To consider how to help our marriages, I would like to invite you first to consider the enormous
pressure we place on ourselves in the space of the modern marriage. Esther Perel, relationship
therapist, speaker and author, points out that our need for security, permanence and safety
shows up in our expectations of marriage, while at the same time we also demand and expect
adventure, novelty and excitement. Seemingly opposite desires within the same marriage –
how can we satisfy all of this in one relationship? Perel also points out that marriage has
traditionally served as a means of creating stability, social status, and an opportunity to have
children and grow a family. Yet in the modern era we also expect that our partners will be our
best friends, our confidantes, and our lovers. And our lifespans are longer than ever!

Not only do we place tremendous pressure on our marriages for love, belonging, adventure and
great sex, we also expect deep understanding, deep acceptance and inner child healing from
our marriages. Family therapist Richard Schwartz, founder of Internal Family Systems Theory,
argues that we have been sold a bill of goods about ideal marriage. “We’ve been told that the
love we need is a buried treasure hidden in the heart of a special intimate partner. Once we
find that partner, the love we crave should flow elixir-like, filling our empty spaces and healing
our pain” (Schwartz, 2008, p. 11). We yearn for our partners to be the solace to the pain that
exists inside of us, pain that developed through the course of our lives as a result of a lifetime of
experiences.

To these existing towering expectations for our marriages, add
the usual array of life challenges, including having and raising
children. Research shows that marital satisfaction declines
with the arrival of children, given the additional
responsibilities and demands on the parents. As well, there
are the pressures of career development and growth, spiritual
development and growth, home purchase and maintenance,
and the pursuit of material wealth. No wonder we are finding
marriage tough! That’s a lot of pressure on one “I do!”
So how can we offer ourselves and our partners some much-
needed relief? How can we lighten the load of expectation
each of us carried into marriage and make our union more
likely to last?

Ways to Help Your Marriage Thrive
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Work on Yourself First / Reparent Yourself

The common thread through these examples of pressures on marriage is the notion that the
Other Person is going to be the solution to My Problems. Can you imagine why we have
difficulties?  One of the tasks of adulthood is to thoroughly, compassionately, and lovingly take
up the work of reparenting ourselves. All of us, whether we came from neglectful homes or
resourced homes, from abusive parents or loving parents, from attentive parents or distracted
parents, all of us experienced wounding in our childhood that causes us pain. Our work as
adults is to honestly identify that wounding, relieve our parents of any further obligation to fix
it, and own the path to healing by reparenting ourselves. This work can be completed in the
safety of a therapy office or independently through means of self-help and learning. Regardless
of how you go about this healing work, know that it is your work to do. Relying on our partners
to heal us of this deep wounding, or continuously stretch to accommodate ways in which we
are not healing, makes the work of marriage that much more difficult.

Be the Partner You Want

Another way in which we fill our marriage  with pressure is to show up with
criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling. These are the “four horsemen of the apocalypse” that John and Julie Gottman, researchers relationship experts, teach about and write about in their books on relationship. Each of these four behaviors communicates animosity to our partners and the Gottman research shows they correlate with
relationship breakdown. As a short set of definitions:

Criticism blames the partner, arguing that unwanted experiences are a result of the partner’s failings, poor choices, or character flaws.

Defensiveness protects the self, suggesting that our own behaviors or character are
above reproach. Criticism and Defensiveness often go hand-in-hand, resulting in
escalating arguments rather than mutual solutions.

Contempt treats the partner with disrespect, mocking them, or calling them names.

Stonewalling is withdrawing, whether through silence, a cold shoulder, or physical
retreat. Disengaging from the relationship protects the self and avoids conflict and
disapproval.

So what can we choose instead? There are several recommendations by the Gottmans and this
link gives more details. In short, one action to consider is entering into your emotional world,
recognizing ways in which you are hurt or in pain, and bringing that vulnerability forward to
your partner. Rather than criticize his tendency to be late, you could share the worry you
experience when you don’t know his whereabouts. Rather than nag at his tendency to leave his
clothing around the house, you could be introspective about what a tidy house means to you
and offer him insights about your needs.

Lighten Up

Writer and editor Molly Tolsky offered this light-hearted solution recently: “Pro-tip for couples
suddenly working from home together. Get yourselves an imaginary coworker to blame things
on. In our apartment, Cheryl keeps leaving her dirty water cups all over the place and we really
don’t know what to do about her.” Find ways to laugh! Rather than seeing your spouse or loved
one as the enemy, see him or her as your partner, the two of you united in common pursuit of
all of your shared goals. Find ways to prioritize humor, create fun, and laugh together.

Seek Professional Help

Following these practices will help, but if you find yourself still struggling, or simply needing
support, consider seeking help from a professional therapist. Often, getting care from a
qualified professional can help motivate us to take better care of ourselves. Please feel free to
contact me if I can help you get connected to someone who will be a good fit for you.

References

Gottman, J. M. (1999). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.
New York: Three Rivers Press.

Perel, E. (2006). Mating in captivity: Reconciling the erotic + the domestic. New York:
HarperCollins.

Schwartz, R. C. (1995). Internal Family Systems Therapy. New York: Guilford.

Schwartz, R. C. (2008). You Are the One You’ve Been Waiting For: Bringing Courageous Love to
Intimate Relationships. Oak Park IL: Trailhead Publications.

Brenda Joy

Brenda Joy

Mental Health Counselor
thrivecounselingservicesllc.com

about

Brenda Joy

Brenda is a mental health counselor who combines Counseling Psychology experience, Human Resources business experience, personal cancer recovery, and life experience of the last 25 years to care for clients. Brenda owns Thrive Counseling Services LLC, a Kirkland-based counseling practice focused on trauma care. Brenda also serves with Cancer Lifeline, a support organization for cancer survivors and their families.

Brenda’s primary counseling modality is Lifespan Integration, which is gentle, body-based therapeutic method that heals without re-traumatizing. Using a person-centered approach, Brenda also offers support with anxiety, depression, grief, and loss.

Brenda believes the therapeutic relationship and therapeutic modalities can produce healing, transformation, learning, and growth. Brenda’s hope for her clients, as for all of us, is to consider, practice, and adopt new ways of being and living that are healing and revitalizing.

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How to Avoid Self-Sabotage During A Pandemic

How to Avoid Self-Sabotage During A Pandemic

Fave Lifestyles

Summer of 2020 is filled with stories of scrubbed family vacations,
postponed backyard gatherings and cancelled kids’ summer camps as the pandemic continues. Now, on top of the continued anxiety we are all feeling, we are also feeling deprived of the R&R we all need!

Chronic Fight or Flight

Our minds and bodies are in a chronic state of fight or flight right now as the pandemic continues. Not only do we face the threat of possible sickness, and needing to be alert for potential exposure, we are also painfully aware that the enjoyment of summertime activities is being reduced as travel and gathering continue to be limited.

As humans, we are well-adapted to manage short episodes of fight or flight, but more lengthy exposure to threat begins to raise cortisol and adrenaline levels,causing the body 
and mind to suffer from exhaustion. And in that context, some of the good patterns and
behaviors in our lives (e.g. health management, relationship management) may be suffering.
We may ask ourselves, why am I not better at managing my health or finances, when I am so
disciplined at getting things done at work? Why is my dating life not coming together, when I
think my friendships are amazing? We often have areas in our lives where we suspect we are
the ones who are blocking our own success. In other words, we self-sabotage.

Why Do We Self-Sabotage?

There’s no shame in it! We all share in this common experience of self-sabotage. It is a process
that is tied into our biological and evolutionary roots, which is why we cannot shake it. There
are two fundamental motivational drivers in human experience: attaining reward and avoiding
pain. Self-sabotage comes into play when you try to avoid pain more than working to attain
rewards. Because we have not learned to distinguish physical pain from emotional pain, we
may misread a situation and assume that emotional pain (e.g. the pain of potential rejection
from pursuing a love interest) will be more impactful than the potential reward (e.g. getting an
opportunity to go on that date).

How to Avoid Self-Sabotage During A Pandemic
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How Can We Counteract the Temptation to Self-Sabotage?

We can learn to recognize patterns in order to better manage the experience of undermining
ourselves. Here are four ideas from renowned psychologist and author Judy Ho, who writes on
this topic in her book “Stop Self-Sabotage: Six Steps to Unlock Your True Motivation, Harness
Your Willpower and Get Out of Your Own Way.”

  • Relax Your Body: Being in this regular state of fight or flight accrues stress in the body.
    You may notice tension in your shoulders, the nervous jiggling of your foot, or stress
    headaches. However your body conveys stress, you are already painfully aware of it.
    Take time to relax your body, focusing on the area of your body where you have built-up
    stress and tensing the muscles in that region of your body for 5 – 10 seconds, followed
    by deep breathing and relaxation of that same are. Continue this method for 3 – 5
    repetitions and continue to breathe regularly throughout. This method teaches your
    mind and body to recognize the feeling of tension and also recognize that you can
    intentionally relax your body, producing the good neurochemicals of serotonin and
    dopamine that relax the mind and body.
  • Identify Negative Thinking: While it is usually easy for us to notice our feelings, it is less
    easy for us to notice our thoughts. But feelings are often reactions to the
    interpretations we are making of our experiences. And our interpretation may not
    actually be right. Research has identified several thinking errors. As two examples, let’s
    consider All Or Nothing Thinking and Mind Reading. All or Nothing Thinking may cause
    you to think “If I don’t look like a model, I’m worthless.” If we paused to consider that
    thought, we can see its fallacy, but we may hold onto the negative emotion attached to
    worthlessness even though it is a wrong conclusion. As another example, Mind Reading
    may cause us to believe we know someone else’s thoughts, when their own thoughts,
    feelings and behaviors may have nothing to do with us at all. To learn more about
    thinking errors, reference the Burns handbook below or this online article. So when you
    next notice a negative feeling, consider what you were thinking right before that, or how
    you were interpreting a situation. Now, assess the validity of that thought. As an example,
    is it actually true that because you missed 2 workouts this week that your fitness plan
    is destroyed? Perhaps you could draw another conclusion, that this week was busy
    and stressful, but you have had many great workouts and enjoy exercise as a regular part
    of your life.
  • Gratitude Practice: The benefits of a positive mindset are enormous, and thanks to the
    neuroplasticity of our minds, we also know that a positive mindset can be cultivated.
    Spending some time every day in a gratitude practice can help to foster a positive
    mindset. Even when the situation around us seems grim, we can find positive
    experiences in our safe homes, blooming gardens, the faces of those we love, a good
    book, the playfulness of our pets, the ability to make and enjoy a tasty meal, the freedom
    to practice our religion, access to clean air and water…..the list goes on and on. Consider
    starting a Gratitude Journal and write three things in it every day, no matter how seemingly
    small.
  • If / Then Plan: We are all human and make mistakes as we work toward our goals. As we
    stumble, it is important not to get overwhelmed and give up on the goal. Plan ahead by
    creating an If / Then Plan. As an example, if your goal is to manage nutrition and
    snacking after dinner is a challenge, plan ahead by finishing this sentence: “If I begin to
    snack in the evening, I will…..” Consider options here such as take a bath, go for a walk,
    drink sparkling water, open up a book to read, call a friend. Develop several ideas and
    keep the idea list evergreen by adding to it as time passes. Referencing this list and
    choosing an alternate idea will help you avoid the temptation you are working to avoid
    when it arises. And having that list prepared in advance will help you when the urge of
    the moment strikes.

Seeking Professional Help

Following these practices will help, but if you find yourself still struggling, or simply needing
support, consider seeking help from a professional therapist. Often, getting care from a
qualified professional can help motivate us to take better care of ourselves. Please feel free to
contact me if I can help you get connected to someone who will be a good fit for you.

References

Burns D. (1989). The Feeling Good Handbook. Harper-Collins Publishers. New York
Ho, J. (2019). Stop Self-Sabotage: Six Steps to Unlock Your True Motivation, Harness Your
Willpower, and Get Out of Your Own Way. Harper Collins: New York, NY.

Brenda Joy

Brenda Joy

Mental Health Counselor
thrivecounselingservicesllc.com

about

Brenda Joy

Brenda is a mental health counselor who combines Counseling Psychology experience, Human Resources business experience, personal cancer recovery, and life experience of the last 25 years to care for clients. Brenda owns Thrive Counseling Services LLC, a Kirkland-based counseling practice focused on trauma care. Brenda also serves with Cancer Lifeline, a support organization for cancer survivors and their families.

Brenda’s primary counseling modality is Lifespan Integration, which is gentle, body-based therapeutic method that heals without re-traumatizing. Using a person-centered approach, Brenda also offers support with anxiety, depression, grief, and loss.

Brenda believes the therapeutic relationship and therapeutic modalities can produce healing, transformation, learning, and growth. Brenda’s hope for her clients, as for all of us, is to consider, practice, and adopt new ways of being and living that are healing and revitalizing.

Join Our Community of Amazing Women

Be the first to know about upcoming events, new shows and stories!

What is Good Mental health?

What is Good Mental health?

Fave Lifestyles

What is Good Mental Health?
And How Do We Achieve It?

Increasingly, strong mental health is being recognized as critical to our overall health,
happiness, and meaning in life. As we move out of an era in which mental health challenges
were shamed and silenced into an era in which mental health disorders are more broadly
understood and accepted, we also have an opportunity to understand how good mental health
is defined, what it looks like, and how to pursue it. Let’s talk!

What is Good Mental Health?

To start with, how can we define good mental health? According to the World Health
Organization (WHO), mental health is a “state of well-being in which every individual realizes
his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and
fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

To expound on the WHO definition, good mental health is not simply the absence of mental
health disorder, just as strong physical health is not the absence of illness. That we are not
experiencing clinical depression may not mean that we are in a prime place of mental wellness.
Rather, as embedded in the WHO definition, strong mental health includes the presence of
positive mental health characteristics.

Positive Characteristics of Mental Health

  •  A sense of peace and contentment with one’s lifeYoga
  • The ability to deal with stressors in one’s life
  • A sense of meaning and purpose
  • The ability to adapt to change and respond to adversity
  • A balance between work and play
  • The ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships
  • A love for oneself that shows up as self-confidence

The good news is that each of these positive mental health characteristics can be intentionally
developed. Just as we can tone and condition our bodies for optimal physical health, we can
tone and condition our minds and spirits for optimal mental health.

As an example, a sense of meaning and purpose can be cultivated. Reflecting on our own life
experience, seeking wisdom from mentors, reading and studying, journaling in pursuit of self-
discovery, and seeking spiritual texts and wisdom are actions we can take to grow our sense of
meaning. Even under the most challenging of life circumstances, meaning and purpose is
available. In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl describes his life in the death
camps of WWII. Despite the horrifying living conditions, Frankl, a psychiatrist, observed that the
prisoners who were more likely to survive the experience had rich inner lives, an orientation
toward the future, and an ability to construe meaning from lived experience.

As Frankl described, having strong mental health does not mean that we never go through bad
times or experience emotional problems. Rather, life regularly serves us disappointments, loss,
and change. And very often, these hard times can cause sadness, anxiety, and stress. But just as
physically healthy people are better able to bounce back from illness or injury, people with
strong mental health are better able to bounce back from adversity, trauma, and stress. This
ability is called resilience.

What is Good Mental health?
*paid advertising

Pursuing Strong Mental Health

So how do we build these positive mental health characteristics? Here are several ideas to
develop our mental health:

  • Build social connection – Humans are social creatures and Build Social Connection
    a we are most fulfillednd mentally healthy when we are in relationship with others. We are being reminded of at great need for connection during this time of social isolation. Reach out to those you love for conversation and meet ups (if possible in this COVID era) as ways to care for yourselves as well as your loved ones. If you find yourself in need of additional connection, you can reach out to people who are currently acquaintances. Lots of people are uncomfortable making the first move in a relationship – but when
    we see that action from others, it looks courageous. Brene’ Brown teaches
    us that “vulnerability is the first thing I look for in you and the last thing I’m
    willing to show you. In you, it’s courage and daring. In me, it’s weakness.”
    So summon up your courage and be the first one to reach out, knowing you will
    be seen as courageous. Further, consider joining any one of a host of worthy causes
    that align with your interests. Whether you are an advocate for race relations,
    literacy, public health, or fighting poverty, there are like-minded people out
    there who are already mobilized and will gladly receive you.
  • Stay physically active – Research continues to proveStay physically active
    profound connection between physical activity and mental health. Exercise is a proven natural antidepressant, it relieves anxiety, reduces stress, improves sleep quality, and helps to add play to your life. If you already have a favorite activity, you already know the value of exercise. If you don’t enjoy exercise, start with a simple walk around the block. Notice your frame of mind before you leave, and actively note what you are feeling and thinking. Upon your return from your walk, consider your new frame of mind and notice
    what you are feeling and thinking. This brief experiment will help to underscore
    the significant and readily available mental health benefits of exercise.
  • Actively manage your stress – In this era of global pandemic, deep racial
    tension, and economic recession there are many sources of external threat,Gardening
    resulting in stress. Stress is both a biological and physiological response to external threat. Pulses quicken, thoughts race, and the body sweats as biological responses to stress. Brain chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline flood through our body as physiological responses to stress. Stress can negatively affect physical and mental health, and has been linked to autoimmune disease, migraines, obesity, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, hypertension and stroke. Particularly in this stressful current moment in history, finding healthy ways to manage stress will return you to a centered place in your body, while your emotions regulate, and your body and brain function more optimally. Each of us is different, and therefore finding stress management that work for you is important. Perhaps music, or a call to a friend, or a groovy yoga session are your go-to stress reduction methods. Maybe for you, going for a run, cooking an
    amazing meal, and tending to your gardenias reduces stress. Search for
    these methods that are purely you; know them about yourself. Then actively
    carve out space in your calendar to engage in these quieting and relieving activities.
  • Focus on nutrition – Research reinforces the link betweenVegetable
    mental wellness and nutrition. While our bodies may call out for comfort foods when we are feeling depressed or stressed, we actually will do better to address the underlying mental condition to feed ourselves healthy foods. Foods that negatively affect mood include caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, foods with high chemicals, sugary food, and fried food. Comparatively, foods that positively affect mood include fatty fish rich in Omega-3s such as salmon, herring, anchovies and tuna; nuts such as walnuts, almonds and cashews;
    flaxseed, leafy greens, and fresh fruits. Next time you are feeling depressed or
    stressed, consider whipping up a spinach, fruit, flaxseed smoothie rather than
    tucking into that bag of potato chips! Your body and your mind will thank you.
  • Protect your sleep – Did you know that while you sleep, your Protect your sleep
    body is pumpingcerebrospinal fluid through your brain, flushing awaywaste products? Your brain is literally being cleaned and restored as you sleep, which may explain why you can wake feeling refreshed and energized in the morning after a good night’s sleep. Mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression can chip away at a good night’s sleep, exacerbating the underlying mental health challenge even further. But again, we can work on this good mental health promoter. Tending to your sleep hygiene,
    that is, creating a soothing sleep ritual and unplugging from external stimulation
    can help. A warm bath at night, reading, listening to soothing
    music, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or bedtime meditations
    can all contribute to generating a natural feeling of sleepiness. Unplugging
    from technology and screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime, and ensuring
    your bedroom is quiet, cool and dark will also help. Here again, know what
    uniquely works for you and actively guard your night-time ritual to maximize
    the possibility of a good night’s sleep.

Seeking Professional Help

Following these practices will help, but if you find yourself still struggling, or simply needing support, consider seeking help from a professional therapist. Often, getting care from a qualified professional can help motivate us to take better care of ourselves. Please feel free to contact me if I can help you get connected to someone who will be a good fit for you.

References:

Brown, B. Rising Strong (2015); Spiegel and Grau, New York: New York
Frankl, V. E. Man’s search for meaning: An introduction to logotherapy (1984); New York: Simon & Schuster.
HelpGuide, Building Better Mental Health. [online] Link to article.
World Health Organization (WHO), 2014. Mental Health: a State of Wellbeing. [online] Link to report.

Brenda Joy

Brenda Joy

Mental Health Counselor
thrivecounselingservicesllc.com

about

Brenda Joy

Brenda is a mental health counselor who combines Counseling Psychology experience, Human Resources business experience, personal cancer recovery, and life experience of the last 25 years to care for clients. Brenda owns Thrive Counseling Services LLC, a Kirkland-based counseling practice focused on trauma care. Brenda also serves with Cancer Lifeline, a support organization for cancer survivors and their families.

Brenda’s primary counseling modality is Lifespan Integration, which is gentle, body-based therapeutic method that heals without re-traumatizing. Using a person-centered approach, Brenda also offers support with anxiety, depression, grief, and loss.

Brenda believes the therapeutic relationship and therapeutic modalities can produce healing, transformation, learning, and growth. Brenda’s hope for her clients, as for all of us, is to consider, practice, and adopt new ways of being and living that are healing and revitalizing.

Join Our Community of Amazing Women

Be the first to know about upcoming events, new shows and stories!

Fostering Good Mental Health in our Children During a Time of Pandemic

Fostering Good Mental Health in our Children During a Time of Pandemic

Fave Lifestyles

Fostering Good Mental Health in our Children During a Time of Pandemic
By Brenda Joy, MACP, MBA, LMHC
thrivecounselingservicesllc.com/

Fave Lifestyles

If you are parenting children during this time of pandemic, with all of the major challenges of the moment, you deserve to wear a superhero cape! And maybe there are days that you do, if dress-up is an activity you reach for to keep your kids amused and engaged.

Parenting kids under any circumstance is a challenge. Parenting kids right now – with the added challenge of school-at-home, the heightened stress of family togetherness 24/7, the restrictions around accessing public parks and activity centers – is an even more significant challenge.

In addition to keeping them fed, intervening arguments, focusing them on their schoolwork, and preventing exposure to contagion, no doubt one of the things you are considering is how to keep kids mentally well during a time of pandemic.

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • In / Out of Control: Recognizing what is in our control and what is outside of it builds agency and a sense of purpose and impact. Teaching our kids about this lens in life helps to address cognitive distortions that can otherwise emerge (e.g. “It’s my job to fix this!”). When we talk with our kids about what we can control (e.g. our consumption of news, our diets, our sense of fun and play, our connection to those we love) and what we can’t (e.g. the virus, how our leaders behave, the school schedule) we foster a sense of safety and right-size understanding of impact.
  • Maintain a Schedule: Trauma research tells us that the unpredictability of a trauma (and COVID-19 is collective trauma) leaves the victim feeling helpless and hopeless. As a counterpoint to this unpredictability, aim to keep your kids on a schedule to help regulate their emotions and foster good mental health. As part of your schedule, work to maintain bedtimes, regular sit-down meals, and mix up work and playtime. Talk with your kids too, about what they miss from school and consider whether that can be replicated at home in some fashion (e.g. art class for the whole family!).
  • Exercise: Getting engaged in physical exercise (whether that’s a family yoga session to the light of YouTube, a backyard baseball game, or a game of indoor tag) will give kids of all ages an opportunity to burn off energy, build physical strength and agility, and enjoy an opportunity to play at the same time. Exercise is a natural antidepressant as well, lifting the spirits and sending endorphins through the system. One of the greatest gifts we can give to our kids is teaching them to maintain their bodies through physical movement.
  • Keep in Touch: Loneliness during this time of social isolation is a serious mental health challenge. Loneliness is a contributor to mental health as well as physical health ailments, and can show up later in life in the form of depression, heightened BMI, and heightened risk for heart disease and other health issues. Nearly half of the US population expressed concerns about loneliness BEFORE the pandemic set in! Take time now to recognize and address the real experience of loneliness by reaching out to important people in your child’s life, such as teachers, friends, and family members. You could meet online with grandparents through Facetime or Zoom, make cards for teachers and friends, and play games or chat with friends through a variety of online options such as multiplayer video games or Marco Polo; there are tons of options. And while you’re at it, your own sense of isolation may be lessened!
Fostering Good Mental Health in our Children During a Time of Pandemic

*Paid Advertising

  • Talk About Feelings: Giving words to the variety of feelings kids (and adults) experience helps to build emotional intelligence, foster self-esteem, and validate experience. Board games and card games (e.g. My Feelings board game or The Ungame) can be helpful if you would like some outside support. Research shows that children will experience better self-esteem and learn to solve problems on their own if their parents and caregivers pause to understand what children are feeling, name the feeling, and in so doing, help the child sort out their internal world.
  • Interpret Physical Signs: Know that your kids are experiencing fear, sadness, loss and anxiety right now, and given our present circumstances, this is normal. At the same time, because children often express their emotions in physical ways (e.g. tummy aches, tantrums, fights with siblings), these physical shows of upset represent an opportunity to lean in close, validate feelings, and reassure the child that their feelings make sense.

And if you need extra support for yourself or for your child, consider engaging in therapy. There are many resources available, and whether you need a specialist in a certain area (e.g. ADHD, depression) or more generalized resources, there are wonderful, caring, qualified therapists out there who are working both through telehealth and in person to provide that support. Please feel free to contact me if I can support you personally or if I can refer you to someone.

And finally, it’s ok to take off that cape. You are doing amazing work in raising a little person (or persons), along with everything else that occupies your time and energy. Remember that it’s ok for you to be tired, upset, and cranky. This is your pandemic also. When your kids see you fully experiencing your feelings, naming them and owning them, they will understand more deeply that honoring everything we feel is critical to the pursuit of good mental health.

Brenda Joy

Brenda Joy

Mental Health Counselor
thrivecounselingservicesllc.com

about

Brenda Joy

Brenda is a mental health counselor who combines Counseling Psychology experience, Human Resources business experience, personal cancer recovery, and life experience of the last 25 years to care for clients. Brenda owns Thrive Counseling Services LLC, a Kirkland-based counseling practice focused on trauma care. Brenda also serves with Cancer Lifeline, a support organization for cancer survivors and their families.

Brenda’s primary counseling modality is Lifespan Integration, which is gentle, body-based therapeutic method that heals without re-traumatizing. Using a person-centered approach, Brenda also offers support with anxiety, depression, grief, and loss.

Brenda believes the therapeutic relationship and therapeutic modalities can produce healing, transformation, learning, and growth. Brenda’s hope for her clients, as for all of us, is to consider, practice, and adopt new ways of being and living that are healing and revitalizing.

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