Finding Creative Cures for Anxiety Triggers
Finding Creative Cures for Anxiety Triggers

Anxiety triggers are unique to every person. Some of them are common, like crowded spaces and high-stress environments. Other triggers are specific to a unique situation. If you are struggling to manage your anxiety, here are some creative solutions to consider.

Step 1 – Figure out Why the Trigger Is a Trigger

What about the situation, person, place, sound, etc. triggers your anxiety? For example, let’s say you get anxious going to work each day. The source of your anxiety could be the drive/ride to work, the stress you face in your workplace, a person at work, the clothes you have to wear, or any number of other factors.

Be specific when assessing your anxiety. What about the drive makes you anxious? Is it traffic? Speed? Having to drive past a certain area? The better you can pinpoint the problem, the more effective the solution will be.

Step 2 – Evaluate What You Can Change

Some aspects of your anxiety triggers will be beyond your control. If you are anxious about traffic driving to work, you cannot change how many cars are on the road. What you can change is the route you take to work or the time you leave for work. Think about each element of your anxiety triggers, and determine what control you have over them. You might have more power than you think!

Step 3 – Find an Effective Long-Term Solution

Once you know exactly what is triggering your anxiety, you can come up with a creative solution for it. You may set calendar reminders in your phone to remember important appointments, rather than worrying you’ll forget them. You could take pictures of your locked door and shut garage every day if you’re worried about leaving them open. You might take the backroads to work to avoid traffic. Every situation has a solution. It’s just a matter of finding the right ones for your anxiety triggers.

Work with a Professional to Find Your Anxiety Cures

It’s not always easy to find creative cures for anxiety triggers. This is especially true if you’ve lived with them for a while. Perhaps it’s time to get a new perspective. With anxiety counseling, you can work with a professional one-on-one to take control of your anxiety. Anxiety therapists specialize in finding coping mechanisms for anxiety. Best of all, a therapist can get you to the root of your anxiety, where you can find a truly effective solution for you.

To schedule an appointment for anxiety counseling, contact Heron Ridge Associates.

Creating Boundaries in a Codependent Relationship
Creating Boundaries in a Codependent Relationship

Every couple goes through struggles at one point or another. For some, this struggle comes in the form of codependency. In the first part of this discussion, we reviewed common symptoms of codependency. Now we will take a look at the importance of boundaries in relationships and how to establish healthy boundaries.

Why Boundaries Are Important in Relationships

Before we explain how to create boundaries in a relationship, we need to explain why this is important. What’s wrong with immersing yourself in your partner’s life? Isn’t that what commitment is all about?

The issue with codependency is that it inhibits individuality. Each person becomes dependent on the other, to the point that they may not be able to make decisions or feel confident on their own. You should still feel like an individual, even when you’re in a relationship. You have interests, and your partner has interests. Those may not always align. Having healthy boundaries ensures that each person in the relationship remains confident, satisfied, and in control of their own life.

Embrace Your Individual Interests (Or Find New Ones)

The best way to create boundaries in codependency is to find separate interests – something you love to do and your partner does not. If you do not have individual interests at this time, this is an opportunity to explore new ones. Join a local club. Take an art class. Start reading a book series on your own. Find ways to spend time apart so you can re-learn who you are as individuals.

Think before You Respond “Yes or No”

Your yes or no answers may be programmed in your brain at this point. You don’t even realize how you’re responding. Your mind is on auto-pilot. Take time to conscientiously respond to every question you’re asked, no matter how small it is. If your spouse asks if you want pizza for dinner, don’t automatically say yes because he wants pizza for dinner. Instead, think about what you truly want. This is key in forming your own identity again.

Consider Individual and Couples Counseling

You may benefit from couples counseling, individual counseling, or a combination of the two. Your therapist can recommend solutions catered to your relationship. You will not be judged for your codependency or any other element of your relationship. Therapy is a positive space to overcome struggles, both in your personal life and in your family life.

Heron Ridge Associates has several therapists on staff who specialize in codependency. If you would like to get matched with a therapist near you, contact one of our counseling centers.

Signs and Symptoms of Codependency
Signs and Symptoms of Codependency

Codependent relationships typically lead to mental health issues. What appears to be close bonding time becomes a fuel for anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and more. If you or someone you know is in a codependent relationship, you may have already noticed these issues develop. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to reduce the effects of relationship addiction. Here are some symptoms of codependency you can watch out for.

What Causes Codependency?

Codependency can stem from a variety of sources. One person may have had a codependent relationship with a parent in the past. Those behaviors have now continued in their romantic relationship. A couple may experience a trauma together that creates an environment for codependency. Infidelity may lead to trust issues, which may become codependent behaviors.

Codependency is also a spectrum. Some couples have extreme levels of relationship addiction, while others have codependent tendencies. If you are examining elements of your own relationship, be aware of these variations.

Symptoms of Codependent Relationships

Here are some common signs of codependency:

  • Little to no individual activities – the couple spends most or all of their free time together
  • Frequent contact, even in inappropriate times – example: non-emergency phone calls at work
  • Controlling actions – one person must ‘approve’ of the other person’s actions
  • Poor communication skills – may result in emotional outbursts, circular arguments, elongated disputes, and more
  • Anxiety while separated – an inability to spend the night apart
  • Low self-esteem – one or both parties may experience this
  • The need to go over-and-above to resolve a conflict – a simple apology is not sufficient

Almost all the symptoms of codependency stem from poor personal boundaries. By learning how to establish healthy boundaries within the relationship, codependents can break the cycle and enjoy a better quality of life.

What to Do If You’re in a Codependent Relationship

The symptoms of codependency often go unnoticed. You may not have noticed your relationship progressing in that manner. Now that you’re aware of it, what can you do?

You don’t have to end your relationship because of codependency. You simply need to create new boundaries for you and your partner. In the second half of this guide, we will explain how to establish healthy boundaries in a codependent relationship.

 

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.

Deal-Breakers

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.

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