Stress Management Tips for New Homeowners
Stress Management Tips for New Homeowners

Buying a house is an exciting process that’s riddled with stress and self-doubt. You may find yourself questioning every decision you make along the way, from the house itself to the paint color on the walls. No worries – everyone goes through this. It’s a natural part of any life milestone. Check out these stress management tips for new homeowners to help calm your nerves.

Don’t Start Too Many Projects

You want your house to be perfect the moment you move in. That’s simply not going to happen. Try not to get caught up in too many projects. Make a list of necessities, and then make a separate list of ‘wants.’ Focus on the necessary projects before moving to the others. Complete one project before starting a new one. As you check items off your list, you will feel the stress melting away.

Plan Your Move Well in Advance

The sooner you can start packing, the better. Here are some quick tips to follow:

  • Get rid of items you do not want to bring to the new house.
  • Pack according to the layout of the new house (guest bathroom, office, master closet, etc.).
  • Label all your boxes in detail.
  • Contact the utility companies to find out deposit amounts.
  • Schedule service transitions around the time you move.
  • If possible, take small loads every time you go to your new house.

Make sure your moving schedule aligns with your closing date and the terms of your current house (when your lease ends, when your parents need you out of the house, etc.). If you need to extend your lease for a month or two, make those arrangements with your landlord.

Appreciate the Emptiness – It’s Room for Growth

Your home may not look the way you want it to at first. The furniture you have now probably won’t match your new space exactly. Don’t be concerned with filling every room right away. This type of growth takes time. Appreciate the opportunities that lie ahead, and trust that they will happen when they’re meant to.

Be Conscious of the Finances

When you’re a homeowner, expenses add up fast. Pay close attention to how much you’re spending. A few $50 trips to the hardware store may not seem like much, but they will turn into hundreds or even thousands of dollars over time. The less you spend, the less stress you’ll have.

Avoid the “Might as Well” Mentality

“If we’re replacing the trim, we might as well replace the doors too.” “If I’m getting new living room furniture, I might as well get a new dining table too.” Pretty soon, you’ve might-as-welled your way into significantly more debt that you’re prepared to repay. Be honest about what you can afford and how much time you have available. Some tasks will just have to wait.

Keep Other Big Changes to a Minimum

Buying a house is a lot for your brain to handle. Try to keep other changes to a minimum. Don’t buy a new car or get a new pet until you’ve settled in for a little while. This is particularly true about life changes that require a financial commitment. You’ll want to keep your finances as flexible as possible to cover unexpected costs in your home.

Lean on Your Support System

This is a big step in your life. Having a positive support system will help you feel calm, confident, and ready to conquer this transition. Don’t be afraid to ask a few favors. Get your parents to watch your children while you unpack for a day. Have your best friend over for a packing party. Talk to your therapist about the stress you’re dealing with, and find coping strategies to overcome that stress. You will get through this!

Stay at Home Mom to Working Mom
How to Transition from Stay-at-Home Mom to Working Mom

Going back to work is stressful for most mothers. Whether you’ve been on maternity leave or you’ve been a longstanding stay-at-home mom, you’re going to go through a big life transition. Here are some tips for re-entry moms to make the transition smooth and stress-free.

Arrange Reliable Childcare

Your children will remain at the forefront of your mind while you work. Knowing they’re in good hands will make it easier to focus on your job. Find reliable childcare that fits your work schedule, budget, etc. If your spouse is going to stay home with the children, make sure your schedules coincide. Contact other friends and family members who will be willing to watch your children during emergency situations. Have a plan for every possible scenario, and you will feel more confident about returning to work.

Gradually Go back to Work, If Possible

If you have a change to slowly transition back to work, take it. Perhaps you start as a part time employee before shifting to full time work. At minimum, keep your schedule light for the first few weeks on the job. It will take time to get your mind back into work mode and establish new routines. Give yourself as much time as possible to make those adjustments.

Meal Prep before Returning to Work

As a stay-at-home mom, a large portion of your day is spent preparing meals for your family. You might not have that kind of time when you get back to work. Plan ahead. Look for recipes that you can prepare quickly. Make some casserole dishes that you can store in the freezer. On busy work days, you can count on those quick and easy meals. You can continue to do this as a working mom once you have a handle on your schedule. The prep work now will simply ease your stress during the first few weeks.

Be Realistic with Your Daily Schedules

If it takes 30 minutes to get your kids ready for school, don’t allot 40 minutes for your entire morning routine. You must be realistic about the time each task takes. If you only have 20 minutes to make dinner, plan meals that will fit in that timeframe. If your commute is 45 minutes on a good day, give yourself an extra 15 minute buffer. Being crunched for time will increase your stress and anxiety. You can easily avoid that with some preparation.

Keep Your Work Time and Family Time Separate

It’s important to establish a work/life balance. When you get home from work, stop thinking about work. Don’t check your work emails unless absolutely necessary. Put your work phone in another room. Focus all your attention on your family and yourself. This will do wonders for your mental health.

Be Proud of Your Former Job (Stay-at-Home Mom Is a JOB!)

Don’t be embarrassed about being out of the workforce. You’ve been raising a human being! Celebrate that and all the hard work you’ve put in over the years. You know how to multi-task with the best of them. You can function on two hours of sleep. You see things from a unique perspective now. That’s an asset, not a liability.

Want to Talk to Someone about Your Stress?

Heron Ridge Associates offers many counseling services for parents. From couples therapy to co-parenting counseling to anxiety therapy and more – you will be matched with the best counselor for your unique needs. Share your stress in a confidential setting, and learn personalized solutions to address it. The better your mental health is, the easier it will be to tackle big life transitions. Your therapist will be there every step of the way. Contact the location nearest to you to get started.

Is your child getting enough play time?
Is Your Child Getting Enough Play Time?

How often does your child participate in physical play activities? Running, biking, playing dress-up and building with blocks – these are just some ways your child can engage their mind and body. Play time provides an opportunity for children to develop social skills and healthy habits for the future. If you are worried about your child’s activity level, read on to learn how to incorporate more play time.

Benefits of Active Play Time for Children

Children’s minds and bodies develop rapidly. Every minute of every day is an opportunity to learn and grow. Physical activities facilitate in that. Even something as simple as doing a puzzle by hand keeps your child’s mind active. This makes it easier to learn skills in the future.

Play time sparks a child’s imagination. Children become more creative and more innovative with more play. Furthermore, active play helps a child learn social skills, such as making friends, communicating, sharing, taking turns, and other lessons that carry into adulthood. Simply put, play time helps a child prepare for life. It is something that should not be overlooked.

Study Shows 75% of Children Do Not Get Enough Play Time

According to a new study from The Genius of Play, 75% of children under the age of 12 are not getting enough active free play. This issue was most prevalent in the older age group, with 77% of 9-12 year-olds having a deficit in active play. When asked why their children did not get enough play time, parents often said that there was not enough time for physical activities.

Examples of Active Play

We encourage parents to limit their children’s screen times, especially if it means more time for active play. Examples of active play include:

  • Playing in backyard
  • Bike riding, roller skating, or skateboarding
  • Drawing on the driveway with chalk
  • Playing physical indoor games, such as putting on a play or doing a puzzle
  • Going on a walk as a family
  • Building forts
  • Playing dress-up or playing with action figures
  • Playing age-appropriate board games and card games
  • Participating in sports and extracurricular activities
  • Having play dates with peers
  • Playing at the park

There are countless ways to engage your child’s mind. Find solutions that work well for your lifestyle, your child’s age, and his/her overall interests.

How to Encourage More Play Time

If you want your child to play more, make that part of your daily schedule. Example: have your child play after school until shortly before dinner time. Allow sufficient time between play time and bedtime so your child has a chance to wind down. If you want your child to have some time for video games, reserve that for the weekends – after school work is complete.

If your child is used to limited play time, you may go through a transition period. Your child may complain about having to go outside or do something new, but ultimately this will become a ‘new normal’ for the household. Make sure to lead by example. Participate in play time with your child, and showcase other forms of physical activity. If you’re persistently on your phone or watching TV, your child will want to do the same.

For more personalized advice on how to encourage play time for children, contact Heron Ridge Associates for family counseling.  


What to Do When a Child Asks for Family Counseling

In many circumstances, the parents decide to pursue family counseling. However, there are some instances where the child is the one to suggest counseling. As a parent, how should you respond to this? What do you say and do when your child asks for family counseling? The guide below will explain how to approach this situation.

Do Not Interpret This as an Attack

Your gut may tell you to get defensive or angry about this request, as if it is a personal attack on you. Reframe your thinking. Your child recognizes a problem within the family, and he or she wants help for it. This is no different than asking a teacher for help with homework or asking a parent for life advice.

If your child is strong enough to make this request, that’s great! Be proud of the strong person you’ve raised. Don’t feel embarrassed because all families struggle. Instead, take steps to ensure that your family gets back on the right track.

Talk to Your Child about Why He/She Wants Family Counseling

If you feel blindsided by this request, talk to your child about the circumstances. What is he or she worried about? What issues is your child hoping to resolve? You may already know these answers because you, too, have considered family counseling. Listen to what your child has to say. If he or she is uncomfortable with the discussion, family counseling will make that easier. Your therapist can guide the conversation to ensure every family member is heard.

Look for a Family Counselor Suited to Your Needs

If you’ve decided to pursue family counseling, make sure the counselor is well-suited for your family’s needs. For instance, if you have a child with autism, you may look for a family counselor who specializes in autism treatment. If you recently separated from the child’s other parent, you might pursue co-parenting counseling. Other factors to keep in mind include:

  • Insurance coverage
  • Appointment times (hours of operation)
  • Specialty services, such as blended family counseling or divorce prevention
  • Experience
  • Licensure and credibility

At Heron Ridge Associates, we match each client with the ideal therapist for their needs. We have individual counselors, family counselors, marriage counselors, and much more. All of our therapists are highly experienced, some with over 30 years of professional experience. Contact one of our counseling centers to get matched with a family therapist near you.


How to Change Careers with Minimal Stress

A career change is a big transition that most adults face. In fact, a study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that Baby Boomers went through an average of 12 job changes in their lifetime. Whether you’re looking for more pay, more fulfillment, or more growth opportunities, changing careers can give you a leg-up in life. Here are some tips to reduce stress during a career change.

Consider Why You Want to Leave Your Current Profession

Make sure you’re changing careers for the right reasons. Start by pinpointing the reasons you want to leave your current profession. Are you unhappy with certain elements of the job? Do you feel like you’re not showcasing your true talents? Are you looking for a bigger challenge or better job security?

Write down all the reasons you want to leave your current profession. This will help you avoid getting into a career with similar downfalls. If you can find the right job that checks all the boxes, you’re going to be much happier about the transition.

Thoroughly Weigh the Pros and Cons of Changing Careers

It’s important to thoroughly assess the situation before changing careers. Your current job may have advantages that others do not. For instance, you may have great health benefits with your current profession. Those benefits may outweigh the schedule flexibility you would get in another career. If you’re frustrated with work, it’s easy to focus on the negative. Don’t let that blind you to the short- and long-term disadvantages you may be facing. You want to make sure the benefits truly outweigh the downsides.

Look for Work before Quitting Your Job

If you’ve decided you do want to change careers, continue working while you look for a new job. You may not have as much free time for your job search, but you will have a dependable income. If your new career will cause you to move, consider saving up several months’ worth of expenses before the transition. You don’t want to feel pressured to jump into a new job. Give yourself time to find a close-to-perfect position so you don’t end up with another change in a couple years.

PRO TIP: Look for a different job with your current employer. You don’t have to change employers to change jobs. If you can complete your career change in a familiar workplace, you’ll have less adjustments to make.

Leave Your Career on Good Terms

When the time comes to leave your job, make sure it’s on good terms. Give your employer advanced notice, and willingly train your replacement. Maintain an amicable relationship with management and other staff members. This gives you a fallback plan in case your new career isn’t what you thought it would be. It also ensures that you receive a positive recommendation as you seek new employment.

If you are interested in stress management or anxiety counseling, contact Heron Ridge Associates. We have multiple counseling centers in Michigan, with licensed professionals on staff to assist you.

You Deserve a Reset – Planning a Mental Health Day

You reset your phone when it’s not working. You reset your modem when the internet goes down. What about you though? Do you ever reset yourself?

When you’re overworked, overstressed and overwhelmed, you need to reset your mind and body. You can do this with a mental health day – a day entirely dedicated to you. This guide will teach you how to plan a mental health day so you can feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

Signs You Need a Mental Health Day

The fact that you’re reading this shows that you probably need a mental health day. However, here are some general signs to watch out for:

  • You feel tired all the time, even after getting plenty of sleep.
  • You are making preventable errors because you’re not thinking clearly.
  • You have become more forgetful than usual.
  • You feel overwhelmed by small tasks or changes to your schedule.
  • Your schedule is so packed that you have no time for yourself.
  • You can’t remember the last day that you weren’t constantly ‘going.’
  • Other people have told you that you need a break.
  • You feel like you’re pushing yourself too hard.

Be honest with yourself. There is nothing wrong with needing a mental health break. If you’ve been going and going and going, it’s time to stop. Regroup. Re-energize. Do what it takes to get back to the best version of yourself.

How to Effectively Reset Your Mind/Body

Now that we’ve identified the signs you need a mental health day, it’s time to reset. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Allow at least one full day for the reset. This could be one of your scheduled days off, or you could request a mental health day from your work. Many employers now have personal days allotted for their employees. Taking one will not affect your employment status.
  • Make no plans for the mental health day. You want this to be completely clear of obligations – not even a quick trip to the grocery store. This is a day entirely devoted to you.
  • Stay off your phone and computer. Let your work and your loved ones know that you will be unavailable for the day. If you need to turn your phone off completely, do so. If you need it on for emergencies, only respond to it in those emergency situations.
  • Sleep as much as you want for as long as you want. If you want to spend the whole day just sleeping, go for it. You deserve it.
  • Be unapologetically selfish. This is a hard concept to grasp, but it’s important. This is not a day to take care of anyone else. It’s purely about you. Send your children to their grandparent’s house for the day/evening. Ask your spouse to take care of the housework and meals. Tell anyone you do favors for that you are simply unavailable for this day. You do so much for everyone else. It’s time to do something for yourself.
  • Don’t think about tomorrow. It will happen regardless of your stress for the today. If you waist time worrying about all the work you have to do tomorrow, you’re not making good use of your reset. Put it out of your mind, and trust that things will happen when they happen.
  • Remember, you deserve this. Don’t feel bad for taking a day to yourself. You can take two or three days if that’s what you need. This will ultimately make you more capable in your work and personal life, so everyone benefits from it. Enjoy your mental health day and the refreshment that comes from a reset.

For more personalized advice on how to improve your mental health, contact Heron Ridge Associates.


Premarital Counseling: 5 Talks to Have before Getting Married

Marriage is a never-ending series of conversations. You’re always going to have something to talk about in your relationship. However, there are some important conversations to get out of the way before you get married. Check out these conversation topics from our premarital counseling experts.

Debt and Debt Repayment

Financial stress is one of the top causes of divorce in America. Before getting married, you should be transparent about your outstanding debts. How much do you owe on your vehicles, your student loans, your credit cards, etc.? What is your plan to pay off those debts? Will you each pay your own debts, or will you pay on them together? You need to make these financial plans to prevent conflicts later on.


Do you have any absolute deal-breakers for a relationship? These aren’t annoyances that you would be willing to work through. These are no-questions-asked, end-of-marriage circumstances. You need to be clear about these before getting married so your future spouse is prepared. You may not like your spouse having a separate bank account. Your spouse may consider smoking or drinking as a deal-breaker. Having these important discussions will reduce surprises in the future.

Plans for Children

Talk to your partner about your plans for children – if you want to have children, how many you want to have, how you will raise your children, and when you would like to have children. These plans may change as your life changes, but you need to be on the same page. If your spouse never wants children and you do, that will always be a source of conflict in your relationship.

Long-Term Living Arrangements

You may not know where you’re going to be in five years, but talk about your general plans for living arrangements. For example, you may want to rent a house for three years while you save money to buy one. You may want to live in your current city for awhile but ultimately move back to your home town. Perhaps you plan to travel as much as possible, so you don’t want to stay in one place too long. Make sure you are both in agreement about this.

Family Traditions and Religion

You don’t have to follow the same traditions or religion to have a happy marriage. However, you do need to be aware of each other’s traditions, especially those that are most important to you. You can find ways to accommodate and respect each of your beliefs. You simply need to know what you value most, and then find a compromise for your family.

If you would like help through these discussions, our premarital counselors would be happy to assist you. We have marriage counselors in Ann Arbor MI, Bingham Farms MI, Plymouth MI and Clarkston MI. You will be matched with the best therapist to fit your needs. Contact Heron Ridge Associates to find a couples therapist near you.

How to Conquer Depression after Weight Gain

Depression after weight gain is quite common. You’re not happy with yourself, your body, or the circumstances surrounding the weight gain. Whatever the case may be, you don’t have to stay depressed forever. The tips below will help you feel more secure in your current form.

Don’t Punish Yourself for Gaining Weight

Along with depression, you might feel anger about your weight gain. Thus you may punish yourself by denying yourself of certain joys or privileges. “I’m not going to start dating again until I lose 10 pounds.” You can make positive lifestyle changes without punishing yourself. “I’m going to date AND go to the gym three days a week.” This provides a path to improvement without belittling where you are right now.

Wear Clothes That Flatter Your Current Body

You may not know how to dress your body, or you may be refusing to dress your current body. After weight gain, you may fall into one of these mindsets:

  1. I don’t want to buy new clothes until I lose this weight.
  2. I’m going to hold onto these clothes for when I’m “skinny again.”
  3. I won’t look good in clothes until I lose weight.

These are all examples of flawed thinking that damages your self-esteem. Rather than holding out for weight loss, work with your current body. Find clothing that flatters your shape, even if it’s not the shape you once had. Simply wearing clothes that fit your figure will boost your confidence and reduce your depression. You might be surprised by how much you love your body along the way!

Stop Focusing on the Numbers

Your dress size, your pants size, your weight – these are all just numbers. You’re the only person who knows what those numbers are. Don’t panic if you have to go up a size in clothes. If doing so will make you look and feel better in the clothing, that’s what matters. Moreover, sizing varies between clothing manufacturers, so don’t get discouraged by what’s on your tag.

Don’t Weight Yourself Every Day

This is mental torture. If you obsess over what’s on the scale, you’re bound to be disappointed. Your weight can fluctuate during the day, the week, the month, etc. Thus it’s important not to weigh yourself too frequently. The better approach is to do a weekly or monthly weigh-in. That’s when you can make a good comparison.

Get Personalized Help for Your Depression

Depression doesn’t just go away on its own. There may be factors outside of your weight gain that are contributing to your depression. The best way to treat and overcome depression is through therapy. This gives you access to personalized advice from an experienced mental health professional. If you need short- or long-term medication for depression, that can be arranged as well. Your therapist will help you find the best treatment for you.

To learn more about depression treatment, contact one of our Michigan therapist offices.


Simple Ways to Stop Social Media Addiction

Feel like social media has taken over your life? Do you spend half your time with friends scrolling aimlessly on your phone? Social media addiction is a growing problem in America, and it can be damaging to your mental health. Read on to learn how to stop social media addiction with these simple lifestyle adjustments.

Take a Break (1 Week, 1 Month, 3 Months, etc.)

Checking social media is a habit for you. The best way to change that habit is to take a break – give your mind and body a chance to reset. Log out of your accounts, or put your account on a hold. You can set it for however long you want your break to be, and you can log in again when you feel the time is right.

How long should your break be? That’s up to you. If your social media use is mild, a couple weeks may be sufficient for you. If you’re on social media for multiple hours a day, you may need a three month break. The first few days will be the hardest. You may find excuses to get back on “just this once.” Fight the urge, and stay off social media until you no longer need it to fill a void in your day.

Turn Off Social Media Notifications

Once you get back on social media, turn off the notifications for each app. In your phone’s settings, you can select which apps you want to receive notifications for. Every time you see a notification, your brain releases a small dose of dopamine. That’s the driving factor in social media addiction. You see the like, the comment, or the share, and you get excited about it. Turn off the notifications, and you will only experience that addictive quality when you physically click into the application.

Share Your Stories with Select Friends

When something happens in your life, do you immediately hop on social media to share it? As an alternative, send that photo or story to a select group of friends. You could start a group text chat with your closest friends, where you vent about things you may not want online. Of course, you can also share this information in person. Having an outlet for your thoughts, ideas and milestones will make you less tempted to rely on social media.

Limit the Devices You Use for Social Media

Only log in on one device, whether that’s your phone, your tablet, your home computer, or another device you use. Limit your usage to that device specifically. This will control the time you spend on social media because you will not have that device at all times. If you need to take it a step further, identify times of the day you’re allowed to be on social media. Set alarms to remind you to get off, or only get on when you know you’ll have a limited time (example: lunch breaks at work).

Remove Social Apps from Your Phone’s Home Screen

This is the same principal as turning off your notifications for social apps. If you see something every time you open your phone, you’ll be tempted to click into it. If it’s buried within your apps, it will take more effort for you to access social media. This won’t stop you, but it will cut back your temptation tremendously.

Talk to a Therapist about Social Media Addiction

Have you talked to your therapist about social media addiction? This could be a contributing factor to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and other mental health issues you may be facing. Your therapist can help you find personalized solutions for social media addiction and other challenges in your life.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with a therapist, contact Heron Ridge Associates. We have therapist offices in Ann Arbor MI, Clarkston MI, Bingham Farms MI, and Plymouth MI. We will match you with the best therapist for your individual needs.


How to Apologize to Your Child

Parents constantly ask their children to apologize, but sometimes it’s the parents that have to say, “I’m sorry.” Apologizing to a child does not always come easy. Not only do you have to admit a mistake as an authority figure, but you also have to express your sincerity in a way your child understands. Here are some tips on how to apologize to a child, courtesy of Heron Ridge Associates.

Why Apologizing to Your Child Is So Important

Children follow your example. They inherently want to mimic their parents’ behaviors. If you are willing to admit to a mistake, your child is more likely to do the same. This teaches your child to be accountable for their actions – no one is perfect, and it’s alright to be wrong sometimes. Apologizing is a proactive way to teach your children good manners.

Forming a Detailed, Meaningful Apology

A good apology is much more than “I’m sorry.” It involves an explanation of what you did wrong, why it was wrong, and how you can improve in the future. Let’s look at a scenario:

      You got angry at your child for letting the dogs out with company over. You did not give your child a chance to explain the situation. It turns out that one of your friends asked to see the dogs. Your child did not do this on his own. Your child is in his room as punishment, and you have to go in there to apologize.

      A meaningful apology would sound something like this: “Hey son, I need to apologize to you. I jumped to conclusions about the dogs and did not give you a chance to explain your story. I’m going to work on my listening skills and only react once I know the full story.” You could add the words “I’m sorry” in there, but “I need to apologize” sounds more thoughtful and sincere.

Teaching Your Child the Right Way to Apologize

Take this lesson one step further, and use it to teach your child the right way to apologize. The next time your child says, “I’m sorry,” ask him, “Why are you sorry, and what can you do to fix/prevent it?” If your child has seen you apologize in a meaningful way, he can look back on those memories to form his own actions.

Improving Apologies in Family Counseling

Family counseling is a wonderful platform for improving communication skills. If you have a hard time apologizing to your child or to people in general, you can work on that with family counseling. Your therapist can help you understand your child’s perspective and express your feelings in return. It may take time to find the right communication strategies for your family, but ultimately, you will reach a balance that works for all of you.


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