Why Do Couples Yell?

spinsight Counseling, Couples Therapy, Dr. Pam Wright, General Psychology
Marriage Counseling Series at The Life Change Group, written by Dr. Pam Wright, mental health expert. Why do couple yell at each other?

In the Beginning...

Yelling is rarely the first scene. In fact, most relationships usually start with loving words and optimistic promises (they don't call it the "honeymoon period" for nothing), but it's not uncommon for situations and relationships to ebb, flow and spiral. Some studies indicate that as little as 3% of married couples say they never argue so there is a lot of arguing going in America's household. Yelling, however is a step above the average argument. It is a behavior that can surface in the heat of the moment, escalate rapidly and has the potential to inflict traumatic consequences on everyone involved. Knowing all of that, why do we still decide to yell at our partners?

yelling as a married couple is very common and it happens more often than you think

How Often Do Couples Yell?

Studies show that yelling is very, very common - that doesn't necessarily make it right or OK, but the statistics show that it happens a lot. This chart from YouGov indicates that approximately 30% of U.S. couples have heated arguments at least once a week, and nearly 60%  at least once a month.

What's all the Fussing About?couples argue about different topics depending on their ages

Even more intriguing than how often, is why we yell. If this were an episode of Family Feud, the top answers should be fairly intuitive - money, attitude, chores, and in-laws are typically the four most common reasons. But the other top reasons might surprise you.

The interesting points to note from this YouGov chart is how the different argument topics vary by age group. Older American couples argue about tone of voice, communication styles and health more than younger Americans. Politics is the same across all demographics - none of us can agree on that subject (my advice - just steer clear of it altogether). Another interesting note is how older couples mellow over time on certain topics - attitude, friends, sex and jealousy all cause fewer fights as we age.

Steps that Partners Should Take to Disagree Properly 

There are probably an infinite reasons why partners yell at each other, but there are a few key steps that couples can take to prevent the escalations of simple disagreements to the potential trauma of verbal abuse and yelling.

  1. Stay calm or suggesting to talk later. This is WAY easier said than done, but it is the foundation to centering emotions and not fueling fiery discussions. When either partner is yelling, the natural, primal instinct to fight or flight will prevent either person from thinking rationally and grounding conversations in honest communication. If neither of you can regain composure, then it is often best to suggest pausing and walk way until things cool down.
  2. Establish ground rules for arguments. Talk when you are both calm to set ground rules, like no profanity, threats, or insults. Explain you will walk away if boundaries are crossed. Follow through consistently.
  3. Address feelings with feelings. Many times there are complex subtexts to why either partner is yelling, and it may not even really be about what both of you are actually yelling about. Typically there might be something that has triggered an irritation, and thus the yelling. The key is determining the trigger and then re-focusing the conversation to openly discuss the real, underlying issue(s).

Final Thoughts from Dr. Pam Wright

92,100+ Time Out Hand Signal Stock Photos, Pictures ...I always teach my couples to determine who is the “distancer” and who is the “pursuer” in the relationship. The distancer needs time and space, often during or after a conflict, while the pursuer wants to figure out a solution immediately. I think of it as the distancer needs to take time to think or sleep on it, the pursuer can’t think about sleeping until things are settled. These couples have to learn to meet in the middle. I like for them to find a safe keyword or motion (like a football time out hand signal) when things get heated. But they MUST set a time to return and resolve the conflict. It doesn’t ever go away on its own!

Couples need to always come back to the relationship with each other and remember the "golden rule". Ideally you are the other's best friend, trusted partner and closest ally. With that comes a great responsibility to treat the other as you'd like to be treated - with respect - even if you're saying it loudly at the time.

Mindful Eating in a Sometimes Mindless World

Mindful eating is not only about what you eat, but also about how you eat.

Is Mindful Eating a Healthy Habit?

Mindful eating might be the goal, but most of us are making mostly mindless food decisions. Did you know that the average person makes over 200 food-related decisions every day? Talk about a mind-boggling buffet of choices! 🤯 In fact, there is an entire industry designed to make all of these decisions even more complicated with attention-inducing packaging, promotions, advertising, and even the layout of grocery stores and websites. All of these unconscious choices add up to a lot of decisioning about food, but very little focus.

That's why so many people are talking these days about Mindful Eating. It's related to mindfulness, but while mindfulness is a broader practice of being present, mindful eating is the conscious act of nourishing your body and paying extra attention on the actual eating experience.

But First...a Disclaimer

And before we continue, I can already hear all the busy moms and dads saying "we don't have time to experience food…we just need to eat and move on to everything else". Mindful Eating doesn't require a complete re-imagining of eating, and it doesn't have to happen for every meal. Honestly, what I think you'll find is that it's a game-changer for stress reduction and cultivating a more positive relationship with food.

Let's dig into the some more of the details first.

What is Mindful Eating, Really?

Mindful eating is not just about what you eat, but how you eat it. It's about being fully present. Focus on the colors, textures, and flavors of your food. Turn off distractions, tune in, and lean in to each bite. Let me give you an example. Have you ever found yourself inhaling a bag of chips while binge-watching your favorite show? Me too (although my go-to is pretzels and humus). Now, imagine savoring each chip or pretzel, appreciating its crispiness, and truly enjoying the taste. That's mindful eating – turning a mindless snack into a mindful delight.

How Does it Work?mindful eating is the practice of exploring the feelings associated with eating healthy food

There are several different types of frameworks including the 3-4-4 Eating Method, and a variety of stepped processes. Harvard's School of Public Health outlined 7 steps but Dr. Susan Albers with USC's Arcadia Hospital synthesized it in just 4 easy steps. Try these at your next family meal:

  1. Sit Down: Give your meal the attention it deserves. The brain's responsibility is to tell you that it's hungry and seek out food. Instead of being critical with your food thoughts, thank your brain for trying to save you.
  2. Savor: Relish the flavors and textures.
  3. Sip Water: Stay hydrated; it enhances the mindful experience.
  4. Slow Down: Let the pace of your meal match the rhythm of your breath.

Final Thoughts, From Dr. Pam Wright

I will do an entire segment on mindful eating vs emotional eating in a future post. The takeaway here is that I truly believe being mindful, not just about HOW we eat, but WHAT we eat is important. There are a lot of tools and ways to listen to your body and determine your level of hunger-fullness.  Mindless and often times emotional eating is super problematic since we are not aware of what we eat. Have you ever watched an interesting movie or show and realized you ate way more than you intended? Being mindful helps to control this phenomena.  Be on the lookout for more mindfulness and body awareness tips coming soon!

#MindfulEating #NourishYourSoul #HealthyHabits 🌿💖


Dr. Pam Wright is a licensed psychologist and mental health expert. She is the founder and owner of The Life Change Group in Peachtree City, Ga.Dr. Pam Wright is a licensed psychologist and a mental health expert. She is the Founder and Director of The Life Change Group in Peachtree City, Ga. Her psychology practice is a team of therapists, counselors and psychologists offering a wide range of psychological testing and individual, couples and family counseling. Dr. Wright is also a co-host of the "Middle Age(ish)" podcast and has appeared on NBC in Atlanta.

How Should Couples Argue?

spinsight Counseling, Couples Therapy, Dr. Pam Wright, General Psychology
Marriage Counseling Series at The Life Change Group, written by Dr. Pam Wright, mental health expert. How should couples argue properly

Is there a Right Way to Argue with Your Spouse?

Couples argue all the time, but how should couples argue properly? Is there a right and a wrong way for couples to fight. Studies suggest that fewer than 3% of couples don't argue, so it is a very common occurrence in American marriages. What are the ground rules for arguments, disagreements and shouting matches (is the latter even allowed)?

It Depends on Your Type

John and Julie Gottman are renowned marriage counselors and have created a proven method to help couples regain their connection. Their method allows them to help predict with significant accuracy if a couple will make it long-term. A key to their marriage counseling philosophy is learning how to communicate better, and this involves how to argue the right way. The Gottman's posit that there are 5 types of couples:

  1. Conflict Avoiders: As the name implies, these couples steer clear of conflict and focus on areas of common ground while celebrating their relationship for generally being happy. Yelling is typically out of character for them.
  2. Volatile Couples: Conversely, this intensely emotional couple type loves to debate and argue, but they can yell at each other constructively. These types of couples have the rare ability to emphasize connection and honesty while they argue, and still lead a passionate love life.
  3. Validating couples: This couple type is somewhat in the middle of Avoiders and Volatile. They do emphasize supporting and understanding their partner's points of view, and are often empathetic. Still, they can be competitive on some issues which can lead to power struggles.
  4. Hostile couples: This couple type demonstrates a lot of criticism, defensiveness, and contempt by using absolute statements in their arguments - "you always" and "you never" are common in their vocabulary. Each partner strives to reiterate their perspective and not understand or empathize.
  5. Hostile-Detached Couples: This couple type is often focused on winning the argument but often just end up in a frustrating and lonely standoff. Yelling may often feel like second-nature for them. These couples rarely regulate their negativity so it just festers and rots the relationship from the inside out.

Love is saying "I feel differently" instead of "you're wrong"


Mismatched Types

What happens when you're both not in the same couple type? Are you doomed from "I do"? Not at all. The idea that matched styles would be superior to mismatched styles showed mixed validity in testing of this method. However, it is interesting to note that recent studies have shown that the "Validating" couples type is key. When individuals rate at least one person as validating this may insulate these couples from lower relationship quality.

Final Thoughts From Dr. Pam Wright

The Gottman Method is just one of a myriad of frameworks to help couples and marriage counselors guide partners on re-igniting relationships and becoming stronger couples. Every couple is different in their unique ways of relating, emoting and being together. The key to any of these models and stepped processes is being willing to do the work and focus on building the relationship. There has to be an openness and willingness to change, and more importantly to doing it together. That's the type of couple that we should all aspire to become.

Why Seasonal Affective Disorder Literally Makes You SAD

SAD is an acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a cause of depression for many in the winter months

Why Seasonal Affective Disorder Makes People Sad

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a recurrent type of clinical depression that affects about 5% of the population according the American Psychiatric Association, mostly in the winter months when the days are shorter, and mostly among women (about four times as much, actually). Symptoms include:

  • Low energy
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Poor concentration
  • Sadness
  • Changes in sleep and appetite
  • Irritability
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Feelings of worthlessness

People with SAD tend to be tired all the time, and some report craving carbohydrates and weight gain. Treatments include light therapy, anti-depressants, Vitamin D, and counseling.

SAD Explained

But what is really happening with our minds and bodies to cause all of these symptoms? The cause seems to stem from two hormones - serotonin and melatonin. People with SAD have trouble regulating the neurotransmitter serotonin—which is responsible for balancing mood. People have a protein that assists with serotonin transport called SERT. When SERT is high, that means serotonin activity is low—leading to depression. Sunlight typically keeps SERT low, but as sunlight decreases, a decrease in serotonin activity also occurs. Based on a Johns Hopkins article describing SAD, people with this disorder also overproduce melatonin, which most people know is used to help sleep. Thus, people with SAD feel lethargic and sleepy. Decreased Serotonin and increased Melatonin impact circadian rhythms. Additionally, Vitamin D is often deficient—and low Vitamin D is associated with clinically depressive Symptoms.

Treatment Options

light therapy products can help fight the effects of SAD (seasonal affective disorder)We mentioned a few treatment options like anti-depressants, vitamin D and counseling. But one of the most commonly used treatments is called Light Therapy, or Bright Light Therapy. These products, which you can find online, emit full spectrum light similar to sunlight-but without UV rays. Whichever one you select should provide exposure of 10,000 lux of light. This makes these light boxes approximately 20 times stronger than indoor lighting. Light therapy is typically used first thing in the morning for anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes. The Mayo Clinic has a wonderful light therapy product buying guide.

Cautions

Be sure to follow the manufacture’s guidelines when using. People should not use light therapy if they have retinal disease such as macular degeneration. It is also not recommended for those on certain medications, such as Lithium, Acutane, Melatonin, and certain anti-biotics. Light therapy is not recommended for those with BiPolar Disorder unless recommended by a professional. Light therapy should be monitored by a health professional. Taking Vitamin D can also help SAD. Low Vitamin D is associated with depression due to insufficient dietary intake or little outdoor exposure to sunshine.

Other Options

The Johns Hopkins research also indicates that you can mitigate SAD symptoms by doing the following:

  • Set attainable goals, consider breaking down tasks and make reasonable priorities. Feeling better will take time, so set that expectation with yourself
  • Accept help and support from friends and family
  • Get regular exercise and eat healthy, well-balanced meals
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs since these can make depression worse

Final Thoughts, From Dr. Pam Wright

Clients often ask me how to know the difference between major depressive disorder and SAD. I tell them to think of SAD as a recurrent depression. So if you typically have depressive symptoms at the same time each year (starting during the winter months), you most likely have SAD. I highly recommend light therapy for those with SAD. I use a light myself during the winter months. It’s best to use the light first thing in the morning for 20 to 60 minutes. This helps to reduce melatonin and increase serotonin.


Dr. Pam Wright is a licensed psychologist and mental health expert. She is the founder and owner of The Life Change Group in Peachtree City, Ga.Dr. Pam Wright is a licensed psychologist and a mental health expert. She is the Founder and Director of The Life Change Group in Peachtree City, Ga. Her psychology practice is a team of therapists, counselors and psychologists offering a wide range of psychological testing and individual, couples and family counseling. Dr. Wright is also a co-host of the "Middle Age(ish)" podcast and has appeared on NBC in Atlanta.

Stress and Anxiety Secret Weapon – Breathe!

spinsight Counseling, Dr. Pam Wright, General Psychology, Stress ,
Breathing is the secret weapon to reducing stress and anxiety. Learn the techniques from Dr. Pam Wright and the therapists and counselors at The Life Change Group

The Secret Weapon

Do you know the stress and anxiety secret weapon? There are a lot of strategies and suggestions for how to reduce stress and overcome anxiety (the Anxiety & Depression Association of America has a great list), but one of the most overlooked and under-appreciated things you can do is breathe. The problem is that many people don't know how or take the time to breathe properly. 🌬️💆‍♂️💆‍♀️

There is a great scene in the movie "Everafter" (shout out to Drew Barrymore and her portrayal of Cinderella) where the main character walks into a giant ballroom filled with glaring and judging attendees. All eyes turn to look as she enters the room. She takes a moment, calms herself and says "breathe, just breathe". The scene didn't lock up any Oscars for Barrymore, but the concept is exactly on point. Intentional and mindful breathing are scientifically proven to have a profound impact on reducing stress and anxiety levels. Here's how breathing can be your secret weapon too.

How to breathe 🧘‍♂️

There's actually a specific way to breathe when you want to calm yourself. By focusing on your breath, you engage your body's relaxation response, calming the nervous system and promoting a sense of well-being. One of the most popular ways to do this is the use the 4-7-8 breathing technique, popularized by Dr. Andrew Weil. It's a simple yet effective method that anyone can follow using these simple steps:

  • First, let your lips part. Make a whooshing sound, exhaling completely through your mouth.
  • Next, close your lips, inhaling silently through your nose as you count to four in your head.
  • Then, for seven seconds, hold your breath.
  • Make another whooshing exhale from your mouth for eight seconds.
  • Repeat as necessary (you'll usually recognize a difference in your mental state after 5-7 breaths, but do what feels right for you)

Box breathing, where you inhale, hold, exhale, and pause for equal counts, is another popular technique. The key for both is purposefully taking measured beats to inhale, hold and exhale. Take a minute and try it. Or watch this breathing video for a quick example.

Why do the 4-7-8 and box breathing techniques work? 🤷‍♀️

According to the Harvard Business Review, "When we are in a highly stressed state, our prefrontal cortex — the part of our brain responsible for rational thinking — is impaired, so logic seldom helps to regain control. This can make it hard to think straight with your team. But with breathing techniques, it is possible to gain some mastery over your mind." Proper breathing helps regulate the autonomic nervous system, balancing the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) and parasympathetic (rest-and-digest) responses. This balance promotes relaxation, reduces stress hormones, and fosters a sense of calm. Studies have suggested that slow, deep breathing can lower cortisol levels. Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, can be effectively managed by incorporating techniques that engage the diaphragm and promote relaxation.

How do I get started?Diaphragmatic breathing is a secret weapon against stress and anxiety

Here are a few steps to get started:

  • Pay attention to your breath. It sounds weird at first, but notice how it feels. Recognize what your body is doing - how your lungs fill with air, how your chest raises and then lowers when the air is exhaled.
  • Practice diaphragmatic breathing—inhaling deeply into your abdomen.
  • Really practice. Good breathing techniques don't come natural to us, so take the time figure out what works for you
  • Recognize when you're shallow breathing. Shallow breathing is when you inhale

What other secret weapons are there?

In addition to these breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation can be added to release tension. Either way, consistency is paramount to training your body to respond to stress. So be intentional with your breathing and practice. Our clients have found a lot of success by taking time each day - just a few minutes - to remove all distractions and focus on practicing their breathing. While deep breathing is beneficial for relaxation, it's not necessary to do it constantly. Incorporate deep breathing exercises into your routine, especially during stressful moments, to enjoy the calming effects.

Final Thoughts

With all the ways that you can reduce stress - and there are a ton of products, processes and ideas - one of the easiest and free ways is proper breathing. Remember, the journey to stress relief begins with each intentional breath. Experiment with different techniques to discover what works best for you, and embrace the power of mindful breathing on your path to a calmer, more centered life. 💙 #BreatheWell #StressReliefJourney

 

Teen Stress at an All-Time High

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teen stress is at an all-time high. Dr. Pam Wright from The Life Change Group provide statistics and ways to help teens deal with stress more effectively

Teen Stress is at an All-Time High

Gen Z teens today are 30% more stressed out than millennials were at the same age. According a recent Gallup poll, "Gen Z members note 'thriving' at a 41% rate compared to a 60% rate from millennials. APA CEO, Arthur Evans thinks today's teens may just be more tuned into their mental health. That may be a part of it, but stats from a Zogby poll last year indicate that youth face a lot more stressors too.

The PYD (Positive Youth Development) framework illustrates that to achieve the vision of healthy, productive and engaged youth, kids must better use their assets, contribution, agency and enabling environments

  • 54% are “aware of someone who has been bullied because of their race, sexual orientation, or income level”
  • 58% “personally know someone who has considered self-harm or suicide
  • 40% of Gen Z students said they worried a lot or some about gun violence at their school

Even parents are seeing the spike. A RethinkFirst survey noted three-quarters of polled parents observed one or more of these emotions in their child during the last school year." This rate is more than double what was previously reported. Whatever the reason, teens are escalating their problems and letting it be known that stress and anxiety, and overall mental health, is a big concern. So what can be done?

There are several existing models - the 5A's and 5C's are good places to start from a broad level, but many psychologists and therapists gravitate towards variations of the PYD (Positive Youth Development) framework. Here's how it works:

  • Assets - help kids build stronger interpersonal skills (get them off their phones)
  • Contribution - encourage play and interaction with other teens
  • Enabling Environment - actively listen to your teen and create bonding opportunities
  • Agency - encourage them and give them a chance to use their voice (figuratively and literally)

We were all teens once. It's a confusing, chaotic and just a weird time of everyone's life. It can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be over-whelming and there are actions that we as friends, parents, teachers and community leaders can take to make a difference.

Life After Diagnosis Coping Group

Life After Diagnosis breast cancer support group at The Life Change Group

Life After Diagnosis Coping Group

Life after diagnosis is a reality. But it doesn't soften the words "you have cancer" - they can hit harder than you can possibly imagine. For patients they are as real and scary as you can imagine. Time seems to stop as you try and process what this means. For friends and family those carry a different but still difficult burden. It's still the same question - what will this mean. But there is life after diagnosis and we want to be a part of your journey.

At The Life Change Group in Peachtree City, we are starting a support group focused on Life After Breast Cancer Diagnosis. This will be an eight-week group starting on Tuesday, January 16 and running once a week (on Tuesdays) through March 5, 2024.

Key Details

  • Group Guide: Dr. Danyella Greene (Psychologist, Ph.D.)
  • When: Tuesdays from 4-5pm ET
  • Dates: COMING SOON
  • Location: 302 Stevens Entry, Peachtree City, GA 30269
  • Contact: 770-486-4887 (ask for Dr. Greene)

Our Guide

Danyella will also be our guide on this journey as we tackle the common fears post-diagnosis, discuss the prospect of altered femininity, and the seismic shift in life’s trajectory. In the safety of the private group's shared experiences, we will find that we are not alone in our journeys.

What to Expect

The atmosphere for these sessions is non-judgmental, fostering trust and vulnerability. Bonds formed in previous support groups have often proven to be some of the strongest. The support group will typically transcend its role as a coping mechanism; it usually becomes a lifeline, connecting women with an unspoken understanding that only those who have faced similar battles can comprehend.

We hope that you can join us at Life After Diagnosis for Breast Cancer survivors at The Life Change Group with Dr. Danyella Greene.

 

Resilience Helps Trauma Recovery

spinsight Counseling, General Psychology, Individual Therapy, LGBTQ
the image of a purple flower pushing through the concrete is an example of resilience. This is representative of the resilience that people demonstrate when recovering from trauma

The Surprising Science Behind Resilience and Trauma:

Resilience has surprising scientific powers.

As a former news reporter, we were always taught "if it bleeds, it leads". Click or swipe anywhere online and you'll see that adage still holds true. But I think there is a growing population that loves a good comeback story even more. The down and out family recovers from losing everything to gaining fame and fortune. The high school athlete suffers a catastrophic injury only to heal, persevere through therapy and win the gold. The stories and movies are endless.

The best comeback stories are when people show their true grit and resilience to overcome their obstacle, pain or trauma. There's actually scientific proof to show why resilience is a key to recovering from trauma. Having and demonstrating resilience is so powerful and could become a key treatment to recovering from all kinds of trauma and stress.

Understanding the Science of Resilience

Resilience, in psychological terms, refers to the ability to bounce back from adversity and adapt positively to life's challenges. Studies have shown that being exposed to these types of stories can enhance your well-being. This includes being able to increase self awareness, self control, openness with others, and better decision-making while also being associated with decreasing anxiety.

Dr. Steven Southwick, a professor of psychiatry at Yale University, explains in his book "Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life's Greatest Challenges", that resilience is not a fixed trait but rather a dynamic process. The brain, he says, possesses neuroplasticity—the ability to reorganize itself in response to trauma. Therefore, it acts as a buffer against the negative effects of stress and trauma, aiding in the rewiring of neural pathways for a healthier mental state.

Other neurobiologists have found that certain neural pathways associated with resilience can be strengthened through various practices, such as mindfulness, social support, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT); which is why these three specialities are offered here at The Life Change Group.

Why Resilience is so Important

Psychologist Angela Duckworth, known for her research on grit and perseverance, offers another powerful perspective. She notes that success is often not just about talent but about sustained effort over time. Duckworth's insights underscore the importance of tenacity and resilience in the face of obstacles, reminding us that setbacks are not the end but rather opportunities for growth and healing.

In the words of Winston Churchill, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts." Let these words resonate in your heart as a testament to the enduring power of the human spirit.

Embrace resilience as your companion on the journey to recovery, and remember, you have the power to write your own headline.

For More Information

To find out more about how to deal with trauma or anxiety, please check out our Specialties page.

Empowering Our LBGTQ Friends

spinsight Counseling, General Psychology, Individual Therapy, LGBTQ
How to become a better ally to the LGTBQ+ community

Empowering our LGBTQ Friends

How can we be a better ally?

Empowering our LGBTQ friends is a key first step to becoming a better ally. As a leading psychologist committed to promoting mental health and well-being, I am often asked about the best ways to reach out and support the LGBTQ community. In this blog post we’ll explore practical and psychological approaches to foster inclusivity and establish a safe space.

How can we be more inclusive?

Creating a more inclusive environment involves a conscious effort to embrace diversity and promote understanding. This requires having an open instead of a closed mindset, and one key step is educating oneself about LGBTQ issues, terminology, and experiences. Acknowledging and respecting individuals’ preferred pronouns is also a fundamental aspect of inclusivity. This is a foundational to empower our LGBTQ friends and a simple way to recognizing and affirm identities.

At an even higher level, practicing active listening and open communication are essential tools for building bridges. In a recent Forbes article (subscription may be required) focusing on allyship, the author noted, ““the onus [for listening] should not be on the affected community to tell me what to do to help, but for me as an ally to discover by listening, understanding and, most importantly, empathizing, how I can help.” It’s crucial to create spaces where people feel comfortable sharing their experiences without fear of judgment. By actively seeking to understand the challenges faced by the LGBTQ community, we can contribute to a more empathetic and supportive environment.

Promoting inclusivity also involves advocating for equal rights and challenging discriminatory practices. Being an ally involves not only supporting LGBTQ individuals personally but also using one’s voice to address systemic issues and push for positive change.

How can we raise awareness for the LGBTQ community?

Raising awareness for the LGBTQ community is a multifaceted endeavor that involves education, visibility, and fostering empathy. We all play a crucial role in learning, sharing and disseminating accurate information about sexual orientation, gender identity, and the unique challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community.

Educational initiatives can take various forms, such as workshops, seminars, and informational campaigns. By engaging with diverse communities, we can all dispel myths and misconceptions, promoting a more informed and understanding society.

Media representation is a powerful tool for raising awareness and ensuring accurate and positive portrayals of LGBTQ individuals that contribute to the normalization of diverse identities. By highlighting the richness and diversity within the LGBTQ community, we can challenge stereotypes and promote a more inclusive narrative.

How do we make LGBTQ individuals feel welcome?

Creating a welcoming environment for LGBTQ individuals involves intentional actions and a commitment to inclusivity. Allies can contribute by displaying inclusive signage, such as pride flags or LGBTQ affirming materials, in their offices. This signals to clients that their identities are recognized and respected.

Using inclusive language is another crucial aspect of creating a welcoming space. We can all adapt our communication styles to be affirming and supportive, avoiding assumptions about clients’ gender identities or sexual orientations. Training staff to be aware of and sensitive to LGBTQ issues is essential for fostering a culture of acceptance.

Additionally, all allies can cultivate a welcoming atmosphere by actively seeking feedback from LGBTQ clients. This can help identify areas for improvement and ensure that the practice is responsive to the unique needs of diverse individuals.

How do we create a safe environment for LGBTQ individuals?

Establishing a safe environment for LGBTQ individuals requires a commitment to creating spaces free from discrimination, judgment, and bias. Allies can start by implementing nondiscrimination policies that explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity. This sets a clear standard for inclusivity within the practice.
It’s also important to remember that confidentiality is paramount in creating a safe therapeutic space. As a psychologist, I assure all of my clients that their identities and experiences will be treated with the utmost respect and confidentiality. This is especially crucial for LGBTQ individuals, who may face additional challenges related to stigma and discrimination.

Ongoing education and training are vital for maintaining a safe environment. Staying informed about the latest research on LGBTQ mental health, cultural competence, and affirming therapeutic practices ensures that professionals are equipped to provide the highest quality care.

Our Role as Allies in Empowering our LGBTQ friends

Ultimately, we all have our part to play in empowering our LGBTQ friends by fostering inclusivity, raising awareness, creating welcoming environments, and establishing safe spaces. By integrating these principles into both professional practices and personal interactions, we can contribute to a more equitable and supportive society for everyone.

We All Want Stress Relief

Stress is Everywhere and We All Want Relief

Stress relief is one of the most discussed topics at psychology offices around the country. We all have stress and are looking for more and better ways to deal with it. A recent study by the American Psychological Association (APA) showed that nearly all major age groups report having more stress in 2023 compared to four years ago (pre-pandemic).

Life’s demands can be overwhelming, leaving us stressed and fatigued. It’s crucial to understand how stress affects us and adopt effective techniques recommended by psychologists to manage it.

Physical Stress Reliefs

You can start with these four physical ways to reduce stress:

  1. Get Regular Exercise: Regular exercise is a potent stress buster and often one of the easiest to initiate. Physical activity releases endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifters. Engaging in activities like walking, jogging, or yoga not only helps clear the mind but also promotes overall well-being. The key is making exercise consistent and regular. We all don’t have to become gym rats and do this everyday. Everyone’s level and intensity of exercise will be different, but the important aspect is that consistency.
  2. Eat Healthy, Regular Meals, and Stay Hydrated: Nutrition plays a vital role in managing stress and most Americans do not eat the right amount of healthy foods. According to a 2019 JAMA study, “42% of the American diet is still coming from low-quality carbs, and about 12% is coming from saturated fat.”  Most dieticians recommend a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid excessive caffeine and sugar, as they can contribute to stress. Staying hydrated is equally important. The Mayo Clinic says that adults lose eight to 12 cups of water through breathing, perspiring, and going to the bathroom. In general, men need at least 12 cups of fluid daily, while women require a minimum of nine cups. Drinking water is very important.
  3. Make Sleep a Priority: Adequate sleep is essential for mental and physical health. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that we establish a consistent sleep routine, aiming for 7-9 hours per night. Quality sleep rejuvenates the body, enhances mood, and improves resilience to stress. In fact, the opposite is true too. A Northwestern University professor found that “sleep loss induces a potent antidepressant effect and rewires the brain. This is an important reminder of how our casual activities, such as a sleepless night, can fundamentally alter the brain in as little as a few hours.”
  4. Try a Relaxing Activity: Engaging in relaxing activities like reading, listening to music, or practicing mindfulness can calm the mind and reduce stress. Experiment with different activities to discover what works best for you.

Mental Stress Reliefs

After you've tackled those, try these next four steps to reduce stress and de-clutter your mind and re-focus your positive thoughts:

  1. Set Goals and Priorities: Setting realistic goals and priorities helps manage stress by providing a sense of direction and accomplishment. Break down tasks into manageable steps and celebrate achievements along the way.
  2. Practice Gratitude: Cultivating gratitude can shift focus from stressors to positive aspects of life. Regularly reflecting on and expressing gratitude for the good things can improve overall mental well-being.
  3. Focus on Positivity: Positive thinking can counteract stress. Instead of dwelling on challenges, focus on solutions and positive outcomes. Surround yourself with positive influences and practice self-compassion.
  4. Stay Connected: Maintaining social connections is crucial for emotional well-being. Share your thoughts and feelings with trusted friends or family members. Social support provides a safety net during challenging times.

Other Stress Management Techniques

While taking these eight steps will help to reduce stress in most people, there are also a few key stress management techniques and ways you can reduce stress that you can start today:

  • Mindfulness practices
  • Time management
  • Deep breathing
  • Spending time in nature
  • Engaging in laughter

Making Your Own Plan

Incorporating these stress relief techniques and self-care practices into your daily routine can significantly enhance your ability to manage stress and lead a more balanced and fulfilling life. Remember that it’s essential to find what works best for you and make self-care a priority in your journey toward well-being.