April 15th, 2013
“Relationships are complicated”. That is a statement that seems to echo among many singles and couples alike and is even recognized as a status option on Facebook. Its clear that relationships take effort to establish and maintain so why do we even bother? Well, it’s simple. We are relational beings that benefit from social interaction and when we open ourselves to others, we become vulnerable to hurt.
Have you ever gotten into an argument and stayed angry much longer than the person who offended you? Then, when you saw him or her appearing happy and free, your blood boiled even more at the thought of how quickly he or she could just move on without an apology or a resolution. The angrier you became at the thought of the offense, the angrier you grew at yourself for not being able to let it go. Sometimes we have difficulty “letting go” of a grudge because we think we’re letting someone off the hook or doing someone a favor by moving on. Instead, we should realize that when we forgive, it is not only for the sake of the offender; forgiveness is also for our benefit.
Why Is Forgiveness Beneficial?
- When you forgive, you release the hold that resentment and anger have on you.
- When you forgive, you open yourself to recognize and receive happiness/emotional peace.
- When you forgive, you regain your ability to live and appreciate what is occurring in the moment rather than living in the past.
- When you forgive, you allow yourself to build a new future that is not tainted by past hurts and offenses.
Keep in mind, forgiveness does not necessarily mean condoning hurtful behavior. It is, however, a gift (for yourself) that keeps on giving.
Dr. Monique Griffith and Dr. Marisa Hammock
March 10th, 2013
Here are little actions and ways to connect each and every day with the one you love:
- Leave a note in your significant other’s lunch bag, saying something like, “I love you” or I’m thinking of you right this very moment.”
- Text your partner throughout the day. Let him/her know he/she is on your mind, even though you are in the middle of a busy workday or taking care of the children.
- Leave at least 10 minutes before you fall asleep at night. Hold each other’s hands, even if you are not talking.
- Say ‘Thank you” to your significant other for at least one thing every day.
- Compliment your partner before he/she leaves the house for work. A compliment goes a long way. Encourage one another.
- Show interest in your partner’s day.
- Give your partner a meaningful hug. A hug of about 20 seconds or longer releases oxytocin, a chemical that helps you bond and connect!
- Get up or turn toward your partner when they walk in after a workday. Say hello and give them a kiss, even if just for a second.
- Make eye contact.
- Laugh together. Sharing a laughable moment with your significant other improves your connection and hey, let’s face it, laugher feels great!
Remember, small connections add up to much bigger rewards. Get connected. Stay connected!
-Dr. Marisa Hammock and Dr. Monique Griffith
February 25th, 2013
Sunday Blues. Some people start to experience them on Sunday evening, yet for others the Sunday blues begin early Sunday morning but you must realize you are not alone! This is very common and something many people experience. It is important to note that although, it is often referred to as “Sunday blues”, many people experience anxiety about the week ahead verses depression. However it may exhibit itself in you, there are ways to reduce the Sunday blues and regain your full weekend!
- Don’t leave all the chores for Sunday. This is bound to leave you downcast on a Sunday afternoon. Try to get in the habit of pushing yourself during the other days of the week (as hard as it might be) to get the laundry done and do the grocery shopping or whatever chores may be on your list. You may want to leave an hour or two on a Saturday to run a few errands but if you leave the brunt of them for Sunday it is no wonder you are feeling in the dumps!
- Wish it was Sunday, ‘Cuz That’s My Fun day’. Find something fun to do on Sunday afternoons or nights. For example, you may choose to make Sunday nights a girl’s night out or a family dinner in or game night or movie night. Whatever you choose, you are ending the weekend on a positive note!
- Exercise! I know we have listed this one in previous blogs; however, take heed of that! There is certainly a reason it keeps coming up! Exercise is one of the best ways to improve mood and positively impact mild depression. Don’t think Arnold or even Jane. Walking is a great way to get going. Bring music, your dog or a friend / spouse and it could be a great stress reliever as well!
- Plan to unwind. Many people do not want to overcommit themselves on a Sunday night, as they really just want to unwind and prepare for the week ahead. You can still set aside Sunday night to do something positive for yourself. For example, if you enjoy cooking, use the freedom and time of a Sunday evening to explore new recipes! Another suggestion is to set aside a half hour or so and journal or reflect on the positives of your weekend.
- There is a Time for ‘Yes’ and a Time for ‘No’. Learn to differentiate between when it is appropriate to say ‘yes’ and when it is okay to say ‘no’. Try not to overcommit yourself to activities and obligations on the weekends. Sure, we all have things we have and want to get done regarding ourselves and our families but realize it is okay to decline an invitation now and again, even if it is for your children. A cup of coffee from McDonalds: $0.99, a gym membership: $30.00 a month, a balanced life: PRICELESS.
- Manic Monday. We know the song and relate to the lyrics: “Just another Manic Monday”. Monday mornings can certainly be hectic. But is can be very beneficial to give yourself a tiny treat on a Monday morning before the work week begins. For example, make Monday mornings the one day of the week you stop for a special Mocha Latte Chocolata from the expensive coffee shop. Ps. We do not suggest you do this daily.
By: Dr. Marisa & Dr. Monique
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February 13th, 2013
You’ve made it through the holidays and even though you handled family interrogations about your relationship status with grace, your patience is slowly wearing thin. Why? It’s February and everywhere you turn you’re faced with people and organizations that have assumed the role of cupid. It’s the time of year that, more than any other month, you’re reminded about love, your single status and you grow more on edge the closer the 14th gets. You can’t seem to make it through a television show or errand without seeing heart-shaped candy, images of cupid or signs that read “Be Mine” or “I Love You”.
Now, you know that you’re not the only single person in the world, but as Valentine’s Day approaches, it feels that way. You try to remind yourself that as a single person, you’re probably even in the majority but it’s hard to treat this day or month as any other. You try to figure out why not all of your single friends feel the way you do but you’re having trouble. So, we’re here to help you figure out how to enjoy this Valentine’s Day as a single individual.
- Remind yourself that Valentine’s Day perpetuates a fantasy that couples are always blissful or better loved. Love is not about a day, chocolate or cupid. Nor is it something that is only experienced by couples. There are multiple sources of love in your life (e.g., friends and family).
- Don’t..fool yourself into believing that because you’re single on Valentine’s Day, something is wrong with you.
- Remember that your relationship status doesn’t define who you are by considering your positive attributes.
- Don’t…engage in self-pity and dwell on memories of failed relationships.
- Celebrate being single. Organize a singles outing or plan a dinner with friends to celebrate what you do have.
- Don’t..feel obligated to call every ex that you still have a way to contact.
- Determine how to develop the relationship you want if being single is not your ideal.
- Don’t…fool yourself into believing that all hope is lost.
- Be your very own valentine. Practice loving yourself and maybe even buy yourself a card and write yourself a note or buy yourself a gift. Lavish yourself this Valentine’s Day!
- Don’t…overlook the positives in your life. We all have things we would like to change in our lives, and that is okay, but today is a day to focus on what you do have, not what you don’t have.
- Love another. Send a good friend or family member a note of encouragement or let them know exactly how much they mean to you.
- Don’t compare yourself or situation to other people. Everything looks good from the outside and it is just plain unhelpful!
Remember, you can make this Valentine’s Day anything you choose! Make it a day to celebrate YOU and all the good things in your life!
By Dr. Monique & Dr. Marisa
January 26th, 2013
There are some people who may challenge us on the following idea (ie. Monica Geller), but we still strongly support the notion that no one is perfect. It doesn’t matter who might try to convince you that they are, don’t believe them. Perfection does not exist and striving for perfection robs energy and causes a heightened level of stress. It’s the equivalent of entering a never-ending race or taking a test with an unlimited amount of questions while never being able to complete it. If no one can truly claim or achieve perfection, then why place so much pressure on yourself to be perfect? We challenge you to accept your unique characteristics and feel perfect in your imperfection.
Of course, we need to be clear. Accepting your unique characteristics and imperfections is not a license to give up and not put effort into developing yourself or doing your best. However, it is a license to change your perspective.
Tips for Overcoming Perfectionism
- Become Your Best Advocate..instead of your worst critic, by identifying your strengths rather than focusing on your flaws. Focusing on your flaws will only create stress and weaken your resolve for achieving your goals. Recognizing your strengths will energize you. Realize you have both, as we all do.
- You’re You-nique. Embrace yourself, flaws and all and consider how you’re perceived flaws make you unique rather than hinder you. How do your flaws make you more intriguing?
- You are a Work in Progress. Who you are now is not necessarily who you will be because as you progress through and experience life, you are likely to evolve. Accept yourself as you are, but always focus on moving forward. Acceptance doesn’t necessarily mean to agree; it means you find contentment where you are before you get to where you want to be.
- Give Credit Where Credit is Due. Perfectionistic people are often not satisfied with a grade of 97%. Rather than focusing on and celebrating the 97%, these kinds of people focus on and exaggerate the severity of the incorrect 3%. Learn to give yourself credit on your successes rather than magnifying your failures.
- Focus on Self-Esteem. Underneath perfectionism lies a fear, a fear that we are not good enough, unacceptable or unlovable and the only way to account for that is to outwardly and earnestly strive to be perfect. Unfortunately, this has an alternative outcome because the more we strive to be perfect, the more we fail.
- Good Enough is Enough. Challenge your perception. Whatever you deem as perfect, back it down 5 notches and strive for that! Think of it this way. If you were a basketball player who wanted to slam dunk a 20 foot hoop (yes, we realize this is extreme; our point exactly) yet, you are 5 ft tall, you cannot possibly succeed unless the hoop was lowered to 8ft at least!
- Focus on a Destination You Can Reach. Since there is not one person who is perfect, the road to perfectionism is never-ending and therefore, can never truly be reached.
Remember, there is only one you, so be the best you that you can be.
Dr. Monique and Dr. Marissa
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January 20th, 2013
Stress is a part of life. It is common to everyone. But what is stress exactly? By definition, stress is the pull, pressure or force exerted on one thing toward another. We all feel pulled toward certain things in our life: our family, our job, school, responsibilities and chores etc. Stressors can be positive (planning a wedding, birth or a baby, starting a new job or college), or negative (loss of employment, financial struggles, ending of a relationship).
An important factor to consider is your perception of the stressor itself. A good example of this is wedding planning. Anyone who has planned a wedding or even helped plan a wedding is aware of the stress it can bring. However, bride’s reaction’s and perceptions range from pure bliss to bridezillaville. The way we perceive, interpret and react to an event can make a mountain out of a molehill or… a molehill out of a mountain.
We all experience stress and stress exhibits itself in many different ways. Stress can result in physical symptoms (e.g., high blood pressure, tightened muscles, increased heart rate) and emotional symptoms (e.g., increased depression, anxiousness, difficulty focusing). Since everyone experiences stress differently, one specific and global way to bust it does not exist. Be purposeful and patient when trying to determine what stress management strategies will work for you and explore the tips below for guidance.
- Exercise is the Key. Exercise of any intensity can release endorphins which can be thought of as “feel good” neurotransmitters. Remember, a little exercise can go a long way!
- Schedule a Funday. We are often in overdrive, piling one thing after the next onto our plate. Try to carve out a “funday” for yourself, a period of time in the week when you can do what you want to do rather than what you need to do. This special time should be free from work, chores and responsibilities. You can invite anyone you choose to join you too!
- Structure Your Time and Plan Ahead. This can be thought of in opposite terms of “funday”. Plan ahead in your week for chores, responsibilities and errands. You may not be able to allot the same time every week but look ahead as the week progresses and you know your schedule. Carve out time to take care of the necessities of life so that they don’t take over your whole weekend.
- To Control or Not to Control. It is important to learn what is in your control and what is not. Focus your energy on what you can do something about, rather than wasting energy on that which you cannot.
- “No” Your Limits… Even Superman had Kryptonite. Over committing yourself can increase your stress, contribute to depression and heighten anxiety. Learn to say, “NO” and realize that it’s okay!
- Laugh. We all know the saying, Laughter is the best medicine. Laughter can physiologically mimic a mild work out! Refer to Tip #1! PS. The fact that laughing may also burns some calories may even be an added bonus!
- Get Out of Your Head and Breathe. Learn some deep breathing exercises. This not only helps refocus your thoughts but actually employs physiological changes, such as decreasing heart rate and blood pressure.
- Get Out. “Move a muscle, change a thought”. By doing something else than what you are currently doing, your mindset and focus will inevitably change as well.
- Listen to Music. Music has an incredible ability to alter our mood. Music can energize us, motivate us, and give us an undeniable natural high. It can also calm us and give us sense of peace and comfort. Choose the right song and you will be engaging in one of the greatest stress busters of all time!
- Reward Yourself. Set goals and rewards for yourself. This can be very beneficial in keeping you motivated throughout the process of managing stress!
Dr. Marisa and Dr. Monique
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January 14th, 2013
We are part of an ever changing, digitally enhanced, exciting world. We charge nearly everything we own: phones, computers, Ipods, cameras and even… books! All of these things have been created to help us condense, simplify and improve our daily experience; however, in this high tech world, have we become supercharged?
We are often on digital overload; however, there are many benefits to disconnecting from the digital world, even for a small portion of time. As you sit browsing your newsfeed, checking emails and using apps on your cell phone, think about these helpful points on the benefits of disconnecting and simplifying your digital life.
- Set Limits to Restore Balance. We live and work in a digital world. Although you may not be able to disconnect completely, setting limits is one way to restore work-life balance. For example, ban yours and your family’s cell phones at the dinner table.
- Improve Sleep. According to numerous recent studies, using electronics before bed can disrupt your sleep, leaving you feeling tired the next day. Consider establishing an electronic ban in bed as one of your limits for a more restful and restorative sleep.
- Improve Relationships. We are often so focused on our electronic devices that we forget who is around us, and even more so, we forget to actually communicate with them. Additionally, when we ‘communicate’, it the quality of communication is poor because either we’re engrossed in our cell phones or relying on texts, posts, and emails to connect with others. Disconnect electronic devices and reconnect with loved ones.
- Vacation Time. Think of unplugging as a mini-vacation, a magical place where there are no emails in your inbox, no messages in your voicemail, and it is NOT your turn in ‘Words with Friends’ or ‘Ruzzle’. Take a break from the typing and decompress.
- Keep Focused. It is hard to stay focused on anything when every two seconds your alerts are capturing your attention. Allow yourself a specified amount of time ie) 30 minutes, without checking your phone. Focus on what you are doing and give it your undivided attention, whether it is playing catch with your son/daughter, chatting about your day with your spouse, or taking a morning walk.
Dr. Monique and Dr. Marisa
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January 6th, 2013
Why put off for tomorrow what you can do today? Why wait until the Spring to begin removing the clutter from your life when you can start now? Yes, cleaning may seem like an undesirable chore, but taking the time to periodically clean your emotional space is as important as cleaning your physical space. Here are a few steps:
- Sharpen your vision. Regrets keep you bound to your past while vision propels you into your future. Therefore, develop a vision for yourself/your life and set goals.
- Prioritize. Figure out what emotional habits you continue to engage in that instead of drawing you closer to realizing your vision, pull you further away. Then, before diving head first into cleaning the nooks and crannies of your emotional space, place the habits in order of significance.
- Finish what you start. Tackle one ‘emotional project’ at a time.
- Keep Dirt Out. Anyone who struggles with keeping their house clean knows that it is wiser to expend energy on keeping ‘dirt’ out instead of cleaning the dirt after it builds up. So, reduce the amount of emotional dirt that enters your mental and emotional space by not entertaining negative opinions and pessimistic thoughts.
- Don’t settle for a quick fix. Any lasting change that you would like to see takes time to achieve. So, don’t rush! Take your time to ensure you are heading in the direction of your desired destination.
- Try keeping a journal. Writing can be very therapeutic and cathartic, allowing you to purge negative or painful emotions. Keep in mind, it is not always the length of each journal entry but the honesty and candidness which can be part of the cleansing process.
- Learn to Let Go…whether it’s with your own self or a life situation. One significant aspect to emotional cleansing is the let go and accept the past. Remember, accepting does not mean agreeing. You can disagree or dislike an event or circumstance but still come to an acceptance of its occurrence.
- Learn the difference between what is within your control and what is not. Break things down until you can identify the part of it that is in your control. Learn to distinguish the difference.
- Don’t spend time expelling energy on what is not within your control.
- Learn to forgive. If not for the other person, for yourself. There is a saying by Budda, “Holding on to anger is like a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned.”
- Organize your physical environment. Whether this is in your home or your work space, physical cleanliness and organization often bring a sense of inner tranquility and comfort. It can reduce anxiety and provide internal peace.
Dr. Marisa and Dr. Monique