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Monthly Archives: October 2014

Dealing With the Winter Blues.


For those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, the days are getting shorter and darker. Snow flakes, fireplaces, hot chocolate and cozy sweaters will be making their appearances in the near future. For some, it’s a time of growing darkness and despair. Many individuals suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD) during the winter months, also known as the winter blues, which is usually due to less sunlight hours. Symptoms of SAD and winter blues can be similar to symptoms of depression and may also include less energy, fatigue, trouble concentrating, increased desire to be alone, weight gain, increased need for sleep, anxiety, and irritability.

Here are some strategies to prepare for the winter blues:

  • Replace your regular light bulbs with full-spectrum bulbs, especially in places where you spend the most early to mid-evening hours.
  • Make sure your Vitamin D levels are high enough. Also consider supplementing with a good-quality B complex, and trying an Omega 3 supplement.
  • Start eating better, leafy greens, vegetables, good proteins, and whole grains will help give you steady energy and the nutrition you need. Avoid sugary foods and drinks.
  • A “light alarm clock” is a SAD therapy tool that can help with depression symptoms, especially getting up in the morning. Early in the morning, a light begins to shine at a low level, gradually growing brighter, until it’s time to wake up.
  • Exercise daily. Even 15 minutes a day is better than nothing, and outside in the daylight is more beneficial.
  • Volunteer or get involved in social activities. One or two nights of volunteer work, or other activities like taking a class that require active involvement with others gives a feeling of purpose and helps through the winter months.

Seek a therapist if you suffer from the winter blues, it’s easier to begin a preventative program before the winter blues become a reality. Call today to schedule an appointment! (813)244-1251

Manage Triggers During Addiction Recovery.

AlcoholismCompleting treatment for substance abuse or alcohol addiction is a major accomplishment. But the real work starts when you walk out the door. You will encounter cravings for your drug/alcohol of choice, and for any escape. You will encounter triggers in the form of events, people, and emotions that will make you want to drink or get high again. You may ask yourself, “what can I do when this happens?”

Here are 5 tips for managing triggers during recovery from addiction:

  1. Identify your personal triggers. Everyone is different, so every recovering addict’s triggers are different as well. Some of the most common triggers are walking by a bar, seeing someone who is drunk or high, getting a paycheck, the end of an exhausting workday or week, getting into an argument with someone, and being bored.
  2. Know what you are working with. Triggers and cravings are a real part of recovery. Don’t fool yourself thinking that you won’t experience triggers and cravings. Instead, know what your triggers are, and have a plan for when you feel a trigger or craving.
  3. Practice your plan. Role play, with a friend or even just with yourself in the mirror, practice what you will do when you feel like using again.
  4. Take care of yourself. You can handle triggers more easily when you are eating and sleeping well, exercising, and remaining aware of your emotions. Be familiar with H.A.L.T. hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. These things are known to cause more lapses and relapses. Being aware of your emotions helps you identify when you feel any of these four things and you can take action.
  5. Do not test yourself. If you know that walking by a bar will trigger you, don’t test it to see how well you are doing. You may be able to resist that time, but the seed of a trigger is planted and next time it may not be so easy to resist.

Managing your cravings and triggers can be a struggle when recovering from addiction, but following these tips can make it more doable. If you don’t think you can manage these triggers on your own, seek help. Counseling can be a good way to learn how to better manage and recover from your addiction.

Call us today for more information! (813)244-1251

10 Tips to Help You Understand Your Tween.


Tweens are a mass of contradictions. Even as their bodies are maturing in preparation to create other human beings, they can have temper tantrums worthy of a two year old, sleep with stuffed animals, and need mom to remind them to wash their ears when they take a bath. It’s a hard age to comprehend, but it is also a wonderful one.

Here are 10 tips for understanding your tween:

  1. All or nothing logic. Tweens see the world in black and white and have difficulty discerning shades of gray. Accordingly, they consider people nice or mean, situations fair or nnot, and can easily categorize almost everything else in the world under the headings of “good” or “bad.”
  2. They don’t always like to talk. Tweens may express themselves more readily via actions instead of words.
  3. Peer pressure is real. Help your tween by reminding them that when their peers mature, they will be more tolerant of differences, but don’t dismiss her efforts to fit in.
  4. Tween boys are rowdy and aggressive. It is normal. You need to provide them with physical activities that can serve as an outlet for their energy.
  5. Don’t obey the “keep out” sign on their door. The sign is just a way for them to try and establish boundaries between them and the outside world. They still need your love and guidance.
  6. Rules and discipline. Make sure you are fair and consistent with your rules and discipline. Allowing them to break the rules will send them a message that rules are meant to be broken.
  7. Spend time together. To remain close with your tween you must spend time together. Go grocery shopping together, ask them to help you with dinner, or just hang out and watch a movie together.
  8. Give help when they aren’t doing well in school. Don’t assume your child is a slow learner. They may be having problems with teachers or classmates, or they might simply be uninterested, but they need your help resolving these issues.
  9. If they don’t clean their room, they may not know how. It may be that they don’t know where to start or how to go about it.To help, break down the process into small steps and check their progress along the way.
  10. Avoid unhealthy eating habits. The best guide to how much your tween needs to eat is their appetite. But boredom, anxiety, stress, and depression can also trigger or suppress it. Teach them the differences and how to avoid unhealthy eating.

For further help and advice on understanding your tween, seek professional help! Call today to set up an appointment with a Mental Health Counselor and learn how to communicate, discipline, and interact with your tween! (813)244-1251

Are You Too Nice? Learn How To Gain Appreciation And Respect.

There is nothing wrong with being nice, we all know that the world needs more kind people in it. But, there is something wrong with being too nice to the point where people use and abuse you. It is important to be nice in a way that’s healthy for everyone involved, including yourself.

Below are keys to gaining appreciation and respect.

  1. Practice self-respect. A healthy sense of control comes from exercising your right to set your own priorities, say “no” without feeling guilty, protect yourself from harm, choose healthy relationships, get what you pay for, and create your own happiness in life. No one can take this power away from you unless you allow it.
  2. Change your attitude about having to be nice all the time. There is a big difference between being nice because you want to and being nice because you have to. The first comes from the heart, while the other feels like a burden. No one should be expected to be nice all the time, It’s not reasonable or real.
  3. Don’t try to please everyone and don’t try to please any one person all the time. No one can please everyone all the time, so please don’t even try. People who receive your giving on a regular basis and don’t reciprocate or thank you are also more likely to take it for granted. Gain respect first, so that your generosity, when you do offer it, is truly appreciated.
  4. Know how to say “no” gently but firmly. To be able to say “no” gently but firmly is to practice the art of communication. It allows you to stand your ground while keeping the peace.
  5. Know that you are not responsible for other people’s feelings. Sometimes we feel obligated to do things for others because we don’t want them to feel bad, even when it’s unreasonable for us to go out of our way. We may be so concerned about how others might react if they don’t get what they want that we submerge our own feelings to theirs. If we are being fair and reasonable and we deny an unreasonable request and they don’t like it, so be it.

There is nothing wrong with offering your kindness and generosity to those in need or to the well-deserving. At the same time, it’s healthy and wise to be a good person who also knows how to set appropriate boundaries. Nice people deserve the same love, appreciation, and respect they give to others.

Depression vs. Sadness

Depression and sadness are often viewed as the same thing.  Part of the confusion is that the most recognizable symptom of depression is sadness. Sadness is a very painful emotion and although at times it can be very excruciating, it is a normal response to difficult life events. When we think of sadness as the same as depression we minimize the illness. We often don’t realize that depression creates many other debilitating symptoms. Sadness is a small part of depression, and many individuals with depression may not even experience sadness. Instead, they may experience loss of appetite, sleeplessness or hypersomnia, lack of energy, isolation, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, diminished interest in or enjoyment of activities, and poor concentration or indecisiveness. Depression is diagnosed after an individual has had multiple symptoms for at least 2 weeks. The major difference between depression and sadness is that depression is a serious mental illness. If you or someone you may know is struggling with depression seek help immediately, do not wait until it gets worse. Depression is a treatable and temporary condition, you can get well and feel happy again.

Call us for more information on how we can help! (813)244-1251

Tips For Those With A Lower Sex Drive.

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When it comes to marriage or even relationships, sex is a tie that binds. However, for millions of couples, there is trouble behind closed doors. When one partner requires sex more often than the other, there is a sexual desire gap, and that spells trouble. Whether you are the partner who has higher desire or you are the partner with little to no desire, you both must be proactive to make improvements in your relationship.

here are some tips for the spouse whose desire for sex has seemingly vanished:

1. Make sex a bigger priority in your life. Your relationship depends on it, your partner’s feelings about himself/herself depends on it, and your future together depends on it. You have to stop thinking that you will have a great relationship without satisfying sex, unless your partner agrees.

2. Get a medical checkup. To eliminate physiological causes for your lack of desire, a trip to your family physician or gynecologist may be in order. Ask if hormone replacement therapy, herbal remedies or dietary changes may be helpful.

3. Schedule an appointment for you and your partner with a therapist who is trained and experienced in that area. If you are a man whose sexual desire has flat lined due to your having sexual problems such as performance anxiety, a certified sex therapist can teach you many different techniques to overcome these difficulties.

4. Care about your spouse’s feelings. Even though it may not be intentional, your partner may be hurt or feel rejected because of this. Part of the healing that must take place between the two of you involves your active participation in things that will help your partner feel better.

5. Look for the small flutters. When you feel even the slightest bit of desire, follow through with it. Nudge yourself to get your feet moving, you may find that your pleasurable physical sensations often override any reason to resist.

6. Talk openly about your preferences. As you begin to figure out what you like and don’t like, you have to commit to discussing it openly and specifically with your spouse. Don’t be embarrassed, you won’t get very far unless you address it.

Seek help from a professional if you have encountered the sexual desire gap, do not wait until the relationship is in a downward spiral or come to an end. Call today to schedule an appointment! (813)244-1251

Cooperative Co-Parenting For The Divorced.


Seven basic do’s and don’ts for co-parenting.

  1. Don’t expect the other household to run like your own, do agree on some things that will be consistent in both homes. Rules and limitations can be different in both households, but it is important to keep some things consistent, such as be kind and courteous to everyone, do your homework before watching t.v. and bedtime at 8pm.
  2. Don’t say anything negative about the other parent, do be respectful. There is nothing to be gained by criticizing the other parent to the children, vent to your friends not your kids. They need to feel safe and loved in both houses and they shouldn’t feel as if liking one parent will result in not being loved by the other.
  3. Don’t make your children the messengers, do share important information directly with each other. Keep your kids out of the middle, they have enough to deal with going back and forth. Send notes with the children, or make phone calls to share important information.
  4. Don’t leave important decisions to one person or the other, do attend important things together. Attend teacher conferences, medical appointments, or legal appointments together. Both of you need to be responsible and need to be aware of everything.
  5. Don’t celebrate holidays and birthdays together, do include everyone at important milestone events and recognitions. It confuses kids when every holiday is celebrated as if the family were not divorced. Come up with a schedule that sets up who gets the kids on birthdays and annual events. Major milestones and successes such as graduations and weddings can be celebrated together.
  6. Don’t expect the kids to be happy about shifting between houses. do expect to go out of your way to be helpful. It isn’t easy or ideal to have to move every week or every other weekend. You can ease the situation for the kids at least a little by helping them make sure they have what they need when they leave your home.
  7. Don’t expect children to love your new partners, do model respect and accept that adults in both households do have some authority. This is usually the hardest one. You don’t choose your ex’s new partner and you may not like him/her or the way they interact with the kids. But as long as we’re talking about differences, not abuse, your children need you to resist the temptation to join in with them when they complain about dad’s or mom’s new love.

If you and your ex are struggling with co-parenting, we can help! We can work with you and your ex to improve your communication and teach you techniques and tools for making the transition more smoothly for the kids.

Call us to schedule an appointment! (813)244-1251

Bad Habits That Will Drain You Of Energy.


It’s hard to be our best when we feel drained of energy. Here are 6 habits that you may have that drains you of your energy and keeps you from being your best:

You don’t drink enough water. Dehydration takes a toll on our energy levels. Instead of drinking a can of soda, replace it with a refreshing glass of water.

You have too much on your plate. How often are you tired because you have so much to do and not enough time to do it? Most people take on more than they can handle. Learn to say no and create a gap of relaxation in your day.

You’re a clutter bug. It’s natural that when we get busy and tired we often become cluttered and disorganized, but this only creates more stress and exhaustion in our lives. Make the time to get rid of things you don’t need and simplify your life.

You never take a break. You might think that taking a break will cause you to get behind or miss important opportunities. But by not taking a break it actually hinders your creativity and efficiency. Make time for a few quick breaks throughout the day to unwind, or even better plan a vacation and take a big break!

You have toxic relationships. Be aware of the people you surround yourself with. There are those that help us stay upbeat and focused, and then there are those that are negative and drain us. Make it a point to keep those around who fill you up emotionally instead of drain you.

You don’t get enough sleep. Getting less sleep may mean more hours to get things done, but you won’t be very efficient when you’re sleep deprived. Focus on getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night.

Making small changes in your lifestyle will go a long way for your mental health!

“The higher your energy level, the more efficient your body. The more efficient your body, the better you feel and the more you will use your talent to produce outstanding results.” – Anthony Robbins

6 Must-Haves For Relationship Compatibility.

You don’t have to be 100% compatible in order for a long-term relationship to work, but there are a few areas that will be beneficial to have partner compatibility. You can have a successful relationship if you only a few of the things listed below, but you will find that your relationship will have greater smooth sailing the more attributes you share or have in common.

Here are the 6 must-haves for an easier and less stressful relationship:

  1. Timeliness and punctuality. If one of you is punctual and the other isn’t, this is a recipe for an argument. You can both be punctual or even both always be late, but if one of you are not punctual then it always leaves the other unhappy.
  2. Cleanliness and orderliness. People who are usually neat and orderly find it a challenge to live with someone who is a slob. Those who don’t put much time or effort into cleanliness and orderliness usually don’t care that it actually may mean something to others.
  3. Money and spending. More couples argue about money and finances than anything else. If one partner is a spender and the other is a saver, that could mean trouble down the road when you’re planning for life’s bigger purchases, such as a house, cars or your children’s future education. Couples who are on the same page with money and finances have less stressful of a relationship.
  4. Sex and intimacy. Usually the second most thing that a couples argues about is not being on the same page with your needs and desires. It is important to discuss your needs and desires with each other to figure out if you are sexually compatible long-term.
  5. Life priorities and tempo. Some people are laid-back and may not let stress get to them, while others take every one of life’s challenges to heart and get stressed easily. Some people value work, seeing no problem in working 12-hour days, while others value spending time with the family and children. Having the same tempo and priorities will minimize the arguments about these issues.
  6. Spirituality and religion. Couples who come from two different religious backgrounds have a more difficult time making their relationship work, especially if there are kids involved.

The more you and your partner share in these six characteristics, the smoother going your romantic life is going to be, although nobody and no relationship is perfect. When you and your partner are both on the same page about things it makes the relationship run more smoothly and you both are better at handling whatever life throws at you.

For more information on how we can help you and your partner get on the same page and create a more smooth sailing type of relationship visit our website! 

Recognizing Domestic Violence.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month! 

Domestic violence has become a far too common occurrence. It can happen in any relationship and at any time, it does not discriminate.  Signs of domestic violence are usually overlooked, denied, and excused. There is no excuse for violence, and the only way to end domestic violence is through awareness. Domestic violence can be physical, emotional, and sexual as well. Domestic violence is any situation in where you are physically harmed or injured, forced to participate in sexual activity that is unwanted, unsafe, or degrading, or diminished of self worth and self esteem. Abusers use tactics to gain control and power over their victims by making their victims feel bad about themselves, and may even use threats and intimidation. Victims usually begin to believe their abusers and they believe that they do not deserve anything else and nobody would want them.

There are warning signs of abuse. Consider these signs if you are concerned about your relationship or the relationship of someone you care about:

  • Having a partner with a bad temper, or one who is jealous or possessive
  • Being overly eager to please the abuser
  • Checking in with abusive partner frequently to outline daily activities or confirm prior plans
  • Frequent injuries and claiming of “accidents”
  • Inconsistent attendance at work, school, or other social activities
  • Excessive clothing or accessories to hide signs of physical abuse
  • Low self-esteem and self-worth
  • Limited access to friends, family, transportation, or money
  • Depression, anxiety, or other personality changes
  • Constant state of alertness that makes it difficult to relax or sleep

If you or someone you know is experiencing these signs or others that may indicate abuse, seek help from a professional. If you are not sure if you are being abused, ask someone. If you have questions about someone being abused, ask them. You may save yourself as well as someone else.

Call us today to schedule an appointment with a Licensed Mental Health Professional and find out what you should do next! (813)244-1251

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