Couple Appreciation Month: Celebrate and Reinforce Your Relationship

Couple Appreciation Month: Celebrate and Reinforce Your RelationshipEvery year,  April is designated National Couple Appreciation Month to encourage couples to do something special to re-enforce and celebrate their relationship – to let their partners know that they are respected and desired.

Given the grim statistics we hear on the state of relationships, I’m glad there is a whole month set aside to appreciate couples.

Statistics say most couples are unhappy in their relationships and more than 40% of marriages end in divorce.

As bleak as these statistics are, on the other hand, there are still approximately 50% of couples in relationships that are long lasting, thriving and happy.

What keeps these couples connected and happy?

Here are few tips from happy connected couples thar you can use to improve and strengthen your relationship:

  • Communicate. Communication is one of the most important qualities in a relationship. Expressing your feelings is the key to effective communication no matter how uncomfortable or awkward it may feel. In strong resilient relationships, couples say “I love you” often and don’t sweep unpleasant issues under the rug.
  • Date Night. Remember how you looked forward to going on a date with your partner before the bills, school functions, meetings, and other life forces took over and pushed your relationship to the back burner? You can regain that same excitement and joy in your relationship. Start going on dates again. Just as you schedule other functions, schedule a time devoted to each other. Make your relationship a priority. Take out your calendar or smartphone, select a mutually agreeable date and time and write in your partner’s name. Commit to this date and don’t use excuses to stand up your partner. I’m sure you’re super busy but you must have at least one night out of seven to devote to your partner.
  • Never go to bed angry. In any relationship, especially a couple, unresolved anger breed resentment. Long-term resentment leads to apathy and disconnection. Don’t give anger space to grow. Let the other person know how you feel without directing blame or criticism.
  • Play together. Most couples spend less than 20 minutes a day engaged with each other and even less having fun together. Make time in your schedule to do a fun activity you both enjoy. Couples who share a common interest such as golf or bowling tend to have less conflict in their relationship. Not only do these couples spend time having fun, they also are strengthening their connection.
  • Trust. Can you count on your partner tomorrow to do what he or she says? Successful relationships are built on trust. If you tell your partner you’ll be home by 6:30, don’t be persuaded to stop for a beer or get into a 20-minute conversation with co-workers when it’s time to leave work.
  • Fight fair. All couples have disagreements. If you’re not careful, disagreement can end in shouting matches, anger and hurt. A disagreement does not mean you don’t love each other or care. Before you start slinging insults, name calling or a disagreement ends badly, a 5-10 minute “time out” may help you sort out your thoughts so you can return and reach an amicable solution.
  • Show appreciation. Couples ought to show appreciation every day not just in April when we celebrate National Couple Appreciation Month. It’s the little things that mean a lot. It’s not that you don’t appreciate your partner; you just forget to verbalize your appreciation. Tell your partner how much you appreciate him or her. Put an “”I love you” note on a pillow, in a pocket, on the bathroom mirror, in his or her gym bag or briefcase/purse to make them smile.

Even though Couple Appreciation Month ended months ago,  any day is a good time to let your partner know how much more enjoyable he or she makes your life, and then tell him/her.

To get professional help to improve or strengthen your relationship, please contact me to schedule a consultation.

7 Warning Signs of Depression

7 Warning Signs of DepressionThe world was saddened this week by the death of Mr. Robin Williams, an iconic comedian, beloved American legend and accomplished actor. Mr. Williams reportedly suffered from severe depression. He appears to have taken his own life.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Williams family. Depression is an insidious mental health disease affecting millions of people every year. Severely depressed individuals are at high risk of suicide.

Symptoms of depression can be tough to detect in someone close to you and even harder to detect in yourself. On occasion, most people feel a little sad, anxious or gloomy. These feelings are quite common when they are the result of a significant life change (e.g., loss of job, divorce, illness, work stress, etc.) and usually last a short time. But, when you or someone you know feels sad and hopeless most of the day, these and other symptoms persist for extended periods of time and effect daily functioning, serious depression may exist and the help of an experienced mental health professional may be needed.

Here are some key areas where depression may lead to diminished functioning and suicide:

  • Extreme changes in sleep habits. On occasion, most people may have a day or two when they either wake up too early, have difficulty getting to sleep or wake up sometime during the night. People experiencing depression will sleep excessively or sleep very little
  • Overeating or appetite loss. Often people who are extremely depressed find themselves eating much more than normal or snacking excessively or having little or no appetite for foods they previously enjoyed.
  • Difficulty staying focused. The inability to think clearly and/or make simple decisions is a frightening part of severe depression. Making major decisions is often intolerable for a depressed person. This lack of concentration leads to increased anxiety, and feelings worthlessness, and/or helplessness.
  • Diminished energy. You may notice that you or a depressed individual moves and speaks at a reduced rate and often complains of being tired without any evidence of physical exertion.
  • Lack of interest.  Depressed individuals have diminished energy and/or no desire to engage in routine activities or hobbies they once found pleasurable.
  • Low self-esteem. During periods of depression, people may dwell on failures and losses and experience feelings of excessive guilt and helplessness. Thoughts of suicide may occur when these feelings persist.
  • Thoughts of suicide/suicide attempt. People who are depressed may say such things as “I wish I wasn’t here”, “what good am I”.

This post is by no means an attempt to diagnose or treat depression.  If you are concerned about depression and/or suicide for yourself or someone else, please use the following resources to get immediate help:

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

If you are hearing impaired, there are several ways to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

  • To chat with a Lifeline counselor from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday-Friday (Eastern Standard Time), click here.
  • Contact the Lifeline via TTY by dialing 800-799-4889

If you are hearing impaired, and a veteran, service member, or any person concerned about one, there are several ways to contact the Veterans Crisis Line.

  • To text with a Veterans Crisis Line responder, send a text message to 838255.
  • To chat with a Veterans Crisis Line responder, click here.
  • Contact the Lifeline via TTY by dialing 800-799-4889

Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)  or  http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

If you or someone you know experience any of the warning signs of depression and/or suicidal thoughts or intentions, please take it as very, very serious and seek immediate help.

Show Kindness to Yourself

Show kindness to yourselfShow kindness to yourself even when you make a mistake, decision you regret or choices and experiences have you stuck, unmotivated and angry.

We all make mistakes.

If a friend made a mistake or choice that landed her in a shaky situation, how would you respond to her?

More than likely you would be there to support, encourage and uplift her.

So, why not extend the same courtesies and show kindness to yourself when you’ve made a choice that didn’t turn out the way you expected?

When you are beating yourself up with negative self talk, stop and use the following tips to show kindness to yourself:

1. Show kindness to yourself in the same way you would a friend who might be going through a rough patch
. Speak encouraging, empowering words, or perk yourself with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Don’t fall into the “woe is me” trap of negative self talk like “I can’t…” “I’m too…” or “I’m not…”

2. Leave your mental comfort zone. When you’re feeling in a rut or unmotivated, focus on something different. If you think long enough about what isn’t possible, your thoughts will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

3. Value your time. Time is a precious commodity and ought to be valued as such. Filling you time with negative self talk will add undue that stress to your life and is not a good way to spend your time. Instead, turn your attention to things that delight and inspire  you.

4. Forgive yourself. Blaming yourself for things that happened in the past will cause you to stay stuck in anger and unforgiveness. You are human and will make mistakes in judgment and engage in behaviors that you wish you hadn’t. Just as you would show kindness and forgive a friend for a minor transgression, forgive yourself.

5. Practice good self-care. When you practice good self-care, you are in a better position to ward off negativity, stress and anger. Set aside a portion of your day for “me time”.  Me time is uninterrupted time you spend meditating, relaxing to soothing music or just sitting with your feet up. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s a part of your daily routine to unwind and rejuvenate.

Keep the above tips in mind whenever you start to be too hard on yourself. Remember, you are your best friend! So show kindness to yourself by displaying the same nurturing, uplifting and positive support you would offer to a friend.

And, to learn even more about how you can show kindness to yourself, I invite you to get my latest book, Master the Genie Within: Uncover, Embrace and Celebrate the Real You.

Check Your Judgment Meter

Check Your Judgment Gage

Check your judgment meter before it’s on empty.

Good judgment is based on our ability to form an opinion objectively and with some knowledge and insight.

However, often our judgments are based on everything except objectivity, knowledge or fact.

This was certainly the case with me on a recent trip to the supermarket when I noticed a young woman on her cellphone.

That day, my judgment meter was running on empty.

One of the things that will drain my judgment meter is seeing someone talking on a cellphone in public places. It seems everywhere I look someone is on a cell phone. And I often judge them to be rude, inconsiderate and uncaring individuals. I have no interest in hearing the details of last night’s argument with a spouse, or idle gossip about neighbors or friends. So when I see someone on a cellphone in public, I decide right then that these individuals as “inconsiderate” and rude.

And, just when my judgment meter approached a dangerously low level, I overheard the woman on her cellphone say loudly, “Oh, no!… what hospital? I’ll be right there”.

Now here was something more plausible than the judgment story I had created in my head.  It appeared there was some crisis in this woman’s life.

How quick I had been to judge her – make assumptions about her phone call, her life, and her motives – without any knowledge of her whatsoever.

I wanted my deflated judgment to slink off to the nearest corner to hide my face in shame.

I wondered how many other times had I made a quick judgment about someone or a situation only to discover later that I was way off base?

Here was an “Aha” moment that I hadn’t expected:

I recognized that situations are not always what they appear to be at first glance.

I realized that my thoughts determine my reactions to others.

I learned to take time to assess my own assumptions and level of acceptance.

“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” ~Pema Chodron

So if you find your judgment meter slipping to a low level, consider these options first:

  1. Be willing to acknowledge that you don’t know all the details. I may think it’s rude to talk on a cell phone in public but that doesn’t mean others share my reality.
  2. Accept that others have a different reality from yours. Just because something doesn’t sit well with you does not mean it’s not working for the other person.
  3. Give others the benefit of the doubt before you judge and create a “story” about them and their motives. Consider that you may lack knowledge that could make a difference in what you think.
  4. Check your own thoughts and behaviors before you judge someone else. Are you guilty of the thing that you find most annoying? Have you ever used your phone at a checkout line, at a concert or in another public place?
  5. Make sure you have some facts to back up your judgment. Your judgments aren’t always (hardly ever) right. A judgment is an opinion you form without any concrete evidence to support it.
  6. Explore your own beliefs and assumptions to gain greater awareness and acceptance of yourself and others. Use moments of judgment to reflect on your level of discomfort so that you are not giving others permission to push your buttons.

For more tips and insights like this, check out my book, Master the Genie Within: Uncover, Embrace and Celebrate the Real You

25 Quotes to Spark “Aha” Moments

QuoteQuotes are a staple in my self care and inspiration tool box. For years, I’ve collected inspirational quotes that elicit and spark those illusive “‘aha” moments. Here are some of my favorite quotes. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

  • If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way. —Napoleon Hill
  • Sometimes you’ve just got to give yourself what you wish someone else would give you. —Phil McGraw
  • Be grateful to people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. —Marcel Proust
  • The purpose of life is to live it to taste experience to the utmost to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences —Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” —Mary Anne Radmacher
  • Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. —Maya Angelou
  • What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. —Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. —Marianne Williams
  • You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. —Buddha
  • It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.—Aristotle
  • Freedom is not the absence of commitments, but the ability to choose–and commit myself to–what is best for me. —Paulo Coelho
  • …Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. —Victor Frankl
  • Time is the coin of your life.  It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.  Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.  — Carl Sandburg
  • Never be afraid to do something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark; professionals built the titanic. —Anonymous
  • I hear and I forget, I see and I remember. I do and I understand. —Chinese Proverb
  • There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go. —Author Unknown
  • The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them. — Maya Angelou
  • Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born. —Dr. Dale Turner
  • Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. —Les Brown
  • Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy. —Thich Nhat Hanh
  • It is never too late to be who you might have been. —George Eliot
  • What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. —Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself. —Richard Bach
  • Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances. —Benjamin Franklin
  • Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

I would love it if you would share some of your favorite quotes in the comment section.

And, for even more inspiration and self-care tips to live your best life, I invite you to get my latest book, Master the Genie Within: Uncover, Embrace and Celebrate the Real You.