How Mindfulness Can Help You Calm and Breathe Through Difficult Situations

There is no shortage of problems that we all deal with. Not surprisingly, there’s no shortage of ways to cope with those problems, either.

What is the problem with many of these “coping” strategies?

A large majority (even ones perceived as healthy) only numb our difficulties. They aren’t aimed at solving them.

Certainly, overdoing a hobby is a better way of coping with life than substance abuse but neither gets to the root of the problem. Once the thrill or high wears off, the problem is still there staring you in the face.

Facing Problems Through Mindfulness

Mindfulness isn’t about ignoring or numbing a perplexing a problem. It’s more about sitting with it, trying to understand it and then solving it.

All too often, we don’t get to this point. The pain becomes too overwhelming and we just head to the fridge for a sugary snack, chase the bottom of another bottle or engage in risky behavior.

Again.

The problem is that doing so only adds to our suffering in the long run. Sure, we may feel good for a brief moment but our lives make less sense after our pain-numbing “binge”, not more.

Deep Breathing and Mindfulness

Deeping breathing can be a great help in facing problems that would be too painful to face otherwise.

In as little as eight minutes each day, you can practice deep breathing.

No, deep breathing won’t make your problems magically disappear. It will do something else, though.

By reducing your stress through deep breathing, you’ll feel better able to face what’s bothering you.

You’ll be able to sit down next to your difficulty like you’re sitting next to a “troubled person”. You’ll better understand what’s really going on and how to take steps towards a solution.

Some Quick Advice About the Breathing Process

While how everyone practices deep breathing will be a little different, there are some basic similarities in all who successfully practice it.

First, find a comfortable location and posture. Find somewhere quiet and get into a relaxed position. For most, this means sitting or lying down.

Next, start noticing your breaths. Taking longer-than-normal breaths can be helpful so long as this is relaxing to you. If you obsess too much over your breathing, it may become the opposite of relaxing!

Lastly, observe the rise and fall of your chest. Picture each part of your body slowly relaxing and letting the stress fall off.

You can either deal with stressful situations after this practice or can try to think through your problems while breathing. It really is about what works best for you.

You’ve spent years of pain-numbing. Why not face those problems, find a resolution and move on with a better life!

If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

You May Be More Stressed Than You Think – 5 Quiet Signals

Stress can present itself in a wide array of symptoms from physical to emotional. Some of those symptoms scream that something is wrong. Others are far stealthier than that.

These signals are invisible, ignored or even joked about.

One thing’s for sure, though.

A joke they are not.

What are some quiet signals that your stress levels are worse than you thought? Here are five.

Poor Sleep/Insomnia

Everyone has an occasional crummy night of sleep. That’s just par for the course.

Maybe you’re awakened by a barking dog, sick child or a significant other who wants you to check on a noise they just heard.

After events like that, you may have trouble falling asleep. Those are “textbook” dilemmas.

But those occasional nights can slowly morph into more. You can quickly find that a good night of sleep is the oddity and not the other way around as things should be.

Don’t let that gradual slide to sleeplessness fool you. You could be dealing with some serious stress.

Perhaps you even lay awake at night trying to solve complex family and work problems. These are all stress indicators you don’t want to ignore.

Digestive Problems

It’s easy to just figure that digestive problems are due to food intolerances or genetics. While that may be the case, it isn’t always so.

Part of the problem can be exacerbated by the fact that many who are stressed out also eat unhealthily. You eat food on the go, binge on late-night sweets or find too much comfort in food.

Combine the less-than-optimal food choices with a digestive tract that’s taking on stress, and you could be in for some sickness or inconvenience at the least.

Too Busy to Do Anything for Yourself

If you’re a naturally driven person, you likely view busyness as a good thing, perhaps even a badge of honor.

Busyness is good to some extent. But if you’re too preoccupied, you become unable to tend to the needs of yourself and your family.

Small signs of neglect in other areas are a good sign that your stress levels are becoming too high.

It’s time to reprioritize so you can get back to a balanced life again.

You Don’t Laugh Much Anymore

When’s the last time you had a good belly laugh?

If it’s been a while, it’s not because there was nothing funny to laugh about.

It’s more because you haven’t taken notice. And why haven’t you taken notice?

There’s a good chance that’s because your stress levels are too high. It’s easy to convince yourself that healthy, responsible people don’t partake in laughter but that’s just not true.

A good laugh actually de-stresses you. And, ironically, the time you least feel like laughing is when you need it the most.

In fact, stress breeds more stress because, as it gets worse, an increasing number of healthy habits get thrown along the wayside.

“Hobby” is a Foreign Word to You

If someone asks you what your hobby is and a long awkward pause with plenty of “ums” follows, this could be a quiet stress symptom.

It could be that you’re so overwhelmed with life that the idea of a creative outlet or hobby is the furthest thing from your mind.

Healthy people find things to do that they look forward to and that help them relax.

If you’re striking out on the hobby question, think of something you can try from hiking to flying kites. The idea is to find something that makes you forget your anxiety and pressures.

In Conclusion

Not all stress symptoms are obvious. Make sure that signals aren’t slipping by unnoticed. Life is too short to let stress get the best of you.

Feeling stressed but not sure what to do? We would count it a privilege to help you come up with a plan to destress.

If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Good Stress and Bad Stress – Your Body May Not Know the Difference

You’ve probably heard by now that not all stress is bad. But have you ever stopped to wonder if your body processes good and bad stress the same or differently?

There are two different terms for stress depending on what kind of stress you have.

Distress is used to describe stress that isn’t healthy. Eustress is the term given to stress that’s good.

Let’s take a look at distress first.

Distress

You could easily come up with a long list of things that could cause distress. These negative events or thoughts break down your body and mind. Every day is loaded with these great and small.

Here are a few examples:

  • Divorce
  • Debt
  • Conflicts with people
  • Negative/self-defeating thoughts
  • Death of a loved one
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Poison ivy
  • Auto accidents
  • Job loss
  • Depression

You likely could relate to several on that list. No one lines up to go through junk like that though everyone experiences their fair share of distress.

Eustress

When it comes to eustress, we can be glad for it since it’s considered a positive pressure or need to change. Ironically, the absence of eustress would actually cause distress.

We wouldn’t have the feeling that we’re achieving all we can, moving through life and making a positive difference without it.

What are some examples of eustress? Here are a few:

  • A new baby
  • Moving
  • Taking a new job
  • Rigorous exercise
  • Getting married
  • Education
  • Meeting new people
  • Stepping into the batter’s box
  • Traveling
  • Going on a date

As you’ll probably notice, some events are difficult to just slate into one category.

For instance, a new baby would be considered eustress for most people but events surrounding that baby can cross over to distress.

If you don’t have proper support or your baby experiences health problems, that could be upsetting, distressing even.

Also, to simply say that “moving” is a eustress event isn’t completely true. Someone selling their home and moving to a “bigger and better” home will probably experience eustress.

But for someone who has to move due to home foreclosure, they’ll likely feel much differently about the situation.

Even in the best-case scenario eustress event, there are distress events sprinkled in.

Or imagine the anticipation of a great date that turns out to be an epic disaster. That eustress event quickly morphs into distress!

So, Does Your Body Know the Difference Between Eustress and Distress?

It actually doesn’t.

What that means is that if you had no distress and only eustress, there could still potentially be a problem.

An overabundance of eustress would cause the same health and emotional problems as distress would.

As a result, when assessing your stress levels, it’s important to include necessary adaptations and changes in your life even if you don’t view them as negative.

We can all be thankful for eustress and can’t avoid distress though we’d love to be rid of it for good.

The best we can do is manage our stress levels so they don’t get out of control. By better understanding the body’s reaction to any kind of stress, we’ll be better equipped to do just that.

If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Signs and Symptoms of Stress

One of the dangers of excess stress is that it frequently takes place gradually for months and even years.

Stress slowly increases until the sufferer experiences a serious wakeup call such as a mental breakdown or health crisis.

Many in the middle of ongoing stress figure that’s just how adults with a myriad of responsibilities are supposed to feel.

True, some measure of stress is normal and even healthy. Ironically, not feeling enough tension, stress, and challenge can be stressful, too.

But what about when stress levels are too high for too long?

Are you overly stressed? Here are some common signs and symptoms.

Physical Characteristics of Stress

Stress presents itself in a wide variety of ways. Most symptoms fall into one of two categories: physical or emotional signs.

Here are common physical signs of stress:

  • Stomach problems, including nausea, constipation and diarrhea
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Increased sweating
  • Trouble swallowing and a dry mouth
  • Loss of the ability or desire for sex
  • Increased illness episodes such as infections and colds
  • Trouble sleeping/insomnia
  • Body pains, aches and tense muscles
  • Rapid heartbeat and possible chest pain
  • Fatigue and loss of energy
  • Ringing ears, involuntary shaking and nervousness
  • A clenched jaw
  • Cold hands and feet/sweaty hands and feet
  • Grinding teeth

It’s important to take these symptoms seriously, especially if you’ve had them for a while now.

They may be the result of stress or another underlying health condition. Stress is more serious than just an inconvenience.

(See our earlier article entitled “Stress is Really a Killer)

Emotional Signs and Symptoms of Stress

While sufferers of stress usually experience physical symptoms, emotional symptoms are also common.

What signs are typical? Here are a few:

  • The desire to isolate from others
  • Trouble calming/quieting your mind
  • Difficulty relaxing your body
  • Depression
  • Feelings of loneliness, worthlessness and low self esteem
  • Easily angered and moody
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed

While the symptoms mentioned above are not an exhaustive list, they should give you some insight into whether you currently experience unhealthy stress levels.

Too many sufferers don’t take stress seriously. High levels of ongoing stress require swift action.

A skilled therapist can help you decide if your stress levels are excessive. If you are too stressed, your therapist can also help you develop a plan to decrease your stress levels as quickly as possible.

Life is too short to live stressed out. There is help for you.

You can experience a much higher quality of life than that! If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

High School: Changing Schools Can Be Stressful for Your Adolescent

It’s easy to minimize the effect changing schools can have on your high school teen.

Not too long ago, we went through the high-school thing and then moved on. But we quickly forget the unique stressors those in high school experience. And those stressors are arguably greater than we experienced a generation or two ago.

Moving to a new school exponentially increases those challenges.

If You Can’t Help Your Teen Like You Want

Is your teen changing schools because you recently moved?

If so, you’re likely having a difficult time nurturing your teen during their transition.

Why?

Because you’re dealing with an immense amount of pressure yourself.

We’re talking about major change stress for everyone involved. While you’re adjusting to a new job, learning how to get around town, changing your utilities over and maybe getting used to a new relationship, your teen is trying to process life as well.

Not only does your high schooler feel your heightened stress level–Their new high school experience is possibly putting their stress levels at near or actual levels that are unmanageable for them.

It may be possible that you can’t help your teen like you want. After all, you’re feeling pretty swamped.

This is a great time to be intentional. Instead of feeling guilty because you can’t help like you want, look for opportunities for others to help your teen. You can’t do everything and admitting it can be freeing.

That could mean seeking out a therapist to help your child work through their transitional stress. If you’re near family or friends, consider scheduling some time for your teen to spend with them so he or she can feel some normalcy and greater stability for a while.

Be Careful Not to Downplay Your Teen’s School Transition

As already said, this is easy to do. But experts in the mental health field know all too well that moves for high schoolers can lead to low points in their mental health. This can even be true for those who are generally considered pretty resilient.

Do your best to keep open communication with your teen about these struggles (or as already shared, find someone who can).

Your high-schooler is grieving for friends they can’t see as easily and scared about the ups and downs of new relationships.

It’s important to regularly remind your teen that things won’t always be so difficult. Eventually, a new routine will be established and new friendships will bloom. If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Your Stress Is Different Than Your Parents’ Stress

Have you ever wondered if you’re more stressed out than your parents or vice versa? If so, that question may have left you stumped.

Are you stressed out? Yes. Are your parents stressed out? Yes. We all deal with varying levels of stress on a consistent basis.

But are we comparing apples to apples? In many cases, the answer is “no”.

Here are some reasons why.

What Your Stress Looks Like as A High Schooler

Ever felt like your parents don’t take the level of stress you deal with seriously?

Something you potentially heard from your parents was, “I wish I had your problems.” This probably happened after you complained, whined or freaked out about your difficulties.

These words may have come across like your parents were making light of your difficulties or didn’t care.

More likely is that they just didn’t understand. They looked at the size of their stressors and then looked back at yours and wondered what you were so worked up about.

But could there be more to it than that?

Yes. There can be and is.

First, your parents have had decades to deal with stressors that you’re new at figuring out. This means that parents generally have a higher ability to handle greater amounts of stress than you.

This also explains why things seem so hard to you and why your parents wonder what the big deal is.

And that isn’t all. Everything around us is becoming increasingly complex. You’re expected to know more in school than your parents ever could’ve imagined and at an earlier age.

You also feel the pressure and trappings of constant technology immersion. It’s not just academics that are more complex but relationships as well.

There are now oodles of ways to grow or destroy a relationship because of the “techie age.” Fights, break-ups, bullying and suicide all happen because of online activity. So do healthy long-distance friendships and a myriad of ways to give others hope.

Another major stressor?

It feels like everyone’s asking you what you want to do with your life. But, in many cases, you don’t know. No career-direction genie ever dropped out of the sky and unraveled the biggest questions you have.

Questions like what the heck you’re supposed to do with your life. The rubrics cube of your existence keeps getting more complicated. You can’t solve it and everyone you ask can’t either.

One thing’s for sure. The crossroads of your life keep getting closer and closer. You increasingly wonder what you should do and be.

Do you just guess? Do you pursue something only for the money? Part of you says “yes” but another part keeps nagging you not to sell out.

Although you need money, deep down, you realize you exist for a greater reason than simply chasing the “paper.”

Most days, you’re just trying to survive another school day, more homework and maintain some semblance of a social life. Then, you go to bed, wake up and repeat this pattern day in and day out.

What Your Parents’ Stress Looks Like

Your parent or parents feel consistent pressure to protect you from a world that can be cruel and dangerous. Hopefully, they work hard to make sure you have adequate housing, food and clothing.

That in itself is no easy task. There are an increasing number of jobs that do not pay a livable wage. Many parents feel persistent employment and financial stress.

Even if your parents have adequate means to provide, they realize that there are no guarantees it will always be that way.

Besides the stress of providing for you and your family, there’s the need to get along with and enjoy each other despite life stressors (Often no easy task).

Lastly, your parents feel a stress you don’t fully feel yet. The incredible gift and challenge of being responsible for other people besides just themselves.

They have the constant stress of making sure you and others are doing well and will be ok.

Summing It Up

Ok. Hopefully, all that didn’t stress you out too much!

It’s good to know what you’re up against. It’s also good to remember that some amount of stress is normal and healthy.

You and your parent(s) can work together to better understand each other’s stress and help each other out. Stress doesn’t have to overwhelm you.

If you ever feel overwhelmed, we would be happy to help you and your parent cope better. Life can be very satisfying and things can get much better! If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

How to Introduce Your Kids to Someone You’ve Been Dating

Looking for the ever-elusive relationship fairy to give you the nod? For her to tell you that you should marry your partner?

Good luck with that one!

Although there are plenty of emotions that go into a budding relationship, deciding if your partner is the one doesn’t need to be a mystical decision.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to deciding. But here are some ways to help determine if your partner is “the one.”

Most Of The Time, You’re Happy

This is an important one because if you ask 10 different people how they knew their spouse was the one, you may get ten different answers.

It may have been because their partner made them laugh, was kind, romantic, responsible, physically attractive or any combination of things.

But boiled down, it meant that, most of the time, they were happier with their partner than unhappy.

It sounds very similar to what makes someone conclude they have a satisfying job. Most of the time, they are happy with it so they stick with it.

Conversely, if you increasingly find you’re unhappy in your relationship, this could be a sign to hold off.

Others Say Your Partner’s The One

You shouldn’t necessarily give up on a relationship if someone close to you doesn’t like your partner.

However, if you have more than one close friend or family member who thinks your significant other is the one, that’s worth paying attention to.

Your friends and family are able to maintain a less biased view of your relationship. While you’re worried about your relationship working and doing all you can to make it a success, they’re just watching.

Most of the time, those who know you best have a pretty good idea. They can easily tell if you become a better person because of the person you’re with or the opposite.

If you’re consistently happy, they pick up on that. If there’s a consistent dark cloud over your life that wasn’t there before your relationship started, there’s no way those closest to you won’t notice.

Spend A Lot Of Time With Them

Lastly, spend plenty of time with your partner before deciding to marry.

Spend enough time with them to know if you’re happy most of the time with them or not.

Marriage never should be a knee-jerk or desperation move. Those who hope marriage will “clean up” their relationship problems are almost always disappointed.

Make the reason you marry be because you can’t imagine going through life without your partner.

The more time you spend together, the less you’ll second guess your decision. You’ll just know. Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Breadwinner Dads—How to Handle the Stress

This a timely topic as the American middle class continues to disappear from the economic landscape. There are plenty of jobs out there but a full-time one is less likely to support a family.

A multitude of dads are really having a tough time. If you can relate, you may feel worthless, like a failure, depressed and angry. There’s the temptation to disconnect from your family and even engage in risky behavior to escape your crummy situation.

Your job may be the best out there but if you can’t provide for your family with it, eventually, you’ll struggle to maintain quality work. There’ll be too many financial stressors that overshadow doing a great job.

This is the most stressed breadwinner dads have been for generations. But what can be done?

Here are a few ideas but don’t stop there. You owe it to yourself and your family to do what it takes.

Cut Your Commute

Even a twenty-minute commute to work each way adds up to over a solid month of 40-hour work weeks where you’re doing nothing but driving!

That’s on top of the solid year of work you’ll already be doing.

That’s not all, though. You’ll also spend thousands of dollars in gas and auto repairs. The money you spend on your commute is immediately subtracted from your income along with taxes, lessening your earning potential.

Unless you work an unusually hazardous job, this is also the most dangerous part of your day. You are far more likely to be injured on the way to and from work than at your job.

Are you driving far away for a higher paying job that stresses you out like crazy? Do the math and decide if you’re better off with a lower-paid job closer to home.

The results of your quick study may shock you. Cut down on your commute and you’ll save money, time and be safer. This adds up to less stress and more positive family influence.

Work Remotely

There’s a huge shift in the job world that simply wasn’t possible before the internet age.
The number of dads (and moms) who work from home continues to increase.

This is a great thing for many dads. You completely cut out the time and expenses of a commute.

Your day also becomes more than punching a clock or mandatory overtime. Instead, you’re focused solely on the quality of hours you work.

This means you work when you’re most productive and that you can pick your own hours.

Doctors appointments, illness and unforeseen life events can be worked through without so much fear that you’ll lose your job by taking too much time off.

You’ll also get much more interaction with your spouse and children.

Is this lifestyle a cakewalk? Hardly.

Still, many dads find remote work to be more of a dance than a 9-to-5 dirge.

Create A Job

Does your pay stink? Do you dread long hours in a toxic environment?

Maybe you look at the job listings in despair finding nothing that suits you. It could be time to create your own job.

Again, this isn’t easy but more dads are finding freedom by creating a job that isn’t at the mercy of micromanagement and corporate cuts. Perhaps you could start a business that involves remote work.

Summing It Up

Other ways to reduce your stress should be considered, too. Some include consistent physical exercise and sleep, a healthy hobby and a good support system.

Know that you’re not alone in your struggle, men. Keep trying until you find what works best to ease your stress. Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

3 Ways To Reduce Your Stress

Our culture tends to view stress as negative. That isn’t necessarily the case.

Stress is unavoidable and for generations, pushed people to achieve things beyond what anyone thought possible.

It isn’t stress by itself that causes major life problems. It’s the amount of it. Unfortunately, everyone experiences levels of stress they find hard to manage at times.

If that’s you right now, here are some things you can do.

Simplify Your Schedule

One major cause of stress is a schedule that’s too full. Busyness can reduce anyone to a frazzled mess.

First, look for things you can easily cut out of your life for a while.

Are you a news hound? There’s nothing wrong with staying informed but much of the news out there details the greatest tragedies of others.

You can only handle so much. Consider backing away for a while. This will give you added time and the chance to dwell on happier things.

Are you consumed with social media and staying connected? Consider taking a break (unless this is an effective stress-management technique for you).

Also, say no to those who request your time if you can get away with it. If you can’t say no, maybe it’s time to leave a career that could literally be killing you. Do what it takes to regain control of your life.

Simplifying your schedule is key. With the many ways to destress your life, there’s just one problem. If you’re too busy to practice any of them, they’re not going to help you too much.

Get In Or Near Water

Water has a natural calming effect. Grab a blanket and lay near a dam, ocean or waterfall. Breathe deep and listen as you relax and forget about your stress.

Think outside the box with this one. There are places where everyone swims. Why not sit in or swim in a river, creek or lake off the beaten path? Bring along goggles and a snorkel and do some exploring if you want.

If you prefer to stay inside or can’t get out due to the weather, take a warm bubble bath, long shower, sit in a hot tub or pool. Also, consider purchasing a small fountain to keep in your home or office.

Research Stress-Relief Tactics

Talk to your coworkers, family, friends, neighbors and search the web for ideas. Try out ones that interest you until you find something that works.

There are literally thousands of stress-relief techniques. That’s a good thing, too, since we’re all different.

Some people find skydiving or rappelling from steep mountain cliffs a remarkable form of stress relief. Others would become way more stressed than they already are doing activities like that!

Try these activities and more:

  • Ride a Bike
  • Take a power nap
  • Spend time with your best friend
  • Create something (a story, painting, drawing, sculpture or craft)
  • Meditate
  • Make a list of 20 (or more) positive things about your life
  • Get a massage
  • Aromatherapy

The opportunities to destress your life are endless. Half the fun is trying new things. Lower your stress and improve the quality of your life now! Schedule your appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.