The 4 R’s of Managing Anxiety

Here are four steps for managing anxiety
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Is Your Child in a Toxic Friendship?

Has your child suddenly lost confidence? Are statements like “I’m a terrible person” and “I can’t do anything right” cropping up? If so, they may be in an unhealthy friendship.
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4 Ways to Avoid Sabotaging Your Mental Health While on Dating Apps

When I joined the online dating scene in 2011, I strategically crafted my profile with the right keywords, phrases, and photos that I thought would grant me the best chance of landing a date, and hopefully, a long-term relationship that would end in marriage. It was challenging to accept this new level of vulnerability and publicly announce that I’m single, looking, and by the way, would you please pick me?
Now hundreds of dating apps bring the emotional roller coaster of online dating onto our smartphones. Apps like Bumble, OK Cupid, Tinder, and Grindr represent some of the highest-grossing social apps in Apple’s App Store worldwide. In the U.S, the top revenue generating iOS dating app was Match with monthly revenue topping $1.3 million as of February 2017.
It can be a draining process as you swipe, click, and message your way through a sea of potential significant others. To safeguard your mental health from the first day you create your profile, follow these key guidelines.

1. Keep it Simple
It may be tempting to replicate your profile across a dozen dating apps to seemingly increase your chances of success, but think again. Managing connections across multiple platforms can leave your phone vibrating with notifications all day long, making you feel overwhelmed and exhausted before you’ve really dived in.
Choose one or two sites that fit with your end goals, beliefs, or interests, and focus on those. You’ll be more apt to find compatible matches before you burn out.
2. Know Your Deal Breakers
Connecting with hundreds of new people with an array of personalities and backgrounds is thrilling and a major benefit of online dating. It’s important that you enter into this virtual world with a set list of deal breakers to help you navigate through the maze of people.
Seeing an attractive photo may sway you to let up your preference for dating a non-smoker or someone without kids. Write down which characteristics are a must for you, and then stick with them.
3. Stay Strong in Who You Are
Clicking through Instagram-worthy profile photos day after day can negatively impact our self-esteem and confidence. Social media, in general, has been linked to higher levels of loneliness, envy, anxiety, depression, narcissism, and decreased social skills. In one survey, 60% of people using social media reported that it impacted their self-esteem, which the behavioral scientist attributed to only seeing the “highlight reel” of people’s lives.
Focus on building up your confidence when using dating apps by repeating positive affirmations, questioning your inner critic, and taking time for self-care.
4. Keep Real-Life Relationships and Activities
Building an online dating presence can be a priority while also keeping your real-life hobbies and activities. The likelihood of meeting a first date through a friend, for example, versus online may be less, but it’s your weekly painting session, favorite outdoor concert series, and love for travel that ultimately make you a more attractive match on online dating apps. Honor those passions and interests and hopefully, you’ll find someone to share them with.
Take time to also foster relationships with friends and family who can serve as an invaluable support network (and a great sounding board) for your online dating app adventure.
Be Open to The Excitement a New Opportunities Bring
Like any new experience, be open to where the opportunity may take you, while putting your mental health first. Schedule time to disconnect from technology so you can emerge refreshed and ready to interact with new people with a stronger sense of self. And don’t lose sight of possibilities that still exist outside of technology.
Anything is possible — even love online!


The post 4 Ways to Avoid Sabotaging Your Mental Health While on Dating Apps appeared first on Talkspace Online Therapy Blog.

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Teen Girls Report Higher Rates of Self-Harm Than Boys

Nearly 20 percent of teens in the U.S. report hurting themselves intentionally.
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Our Relationship Expert Gets Real With Your Questions About Love

Relationships are complex, and require a great amount of effort between two people, one or both of which may be working through mental health challenges. We recently asked Talkspace Instagram followers to share their burning questions about relationships, specifically in a mental health context.
Talkspace’s relationship expert, clinical psychologist Iris Reitzes, PhD, kindly lent her expertise to help answer your important questions.

Should you bring up your mental health journey at the beginning of a relationship?
During the the first few meetings or dates with someone, our tendency is to size each other up in a shallow, almost stereotyped way. We tend to categorize people according to what we know is good or bad, both for us and in a societal sense. For example, are they tall, fit, educated, religious, or wealthy? This helps us feel secure initially that we’re moving in the right direction by letting this person in our lives. To this point, I would recommend withholding intimate information and details about ourselves, like our mental health journey, until we’ve spent more time with them.
There are two main reasons for this:
One, it’s relatively private information, and we need to trust that the person we share this info with is someone who will treat it with respect and delicacy.
Two, if we want to give the relationship a chance, we need to give the other person a chance to know us in a natural context. They need to get a truer sense of us as people by knowing the little things that make us special to them, like the way we laugh, or how smart or loving we are.
Our mental health history is a single piece in the complex puzzle that is our life. The more a potential partner gets to know us, the better they can appreciate our journey and its influence on who we are. This also makes their decision less about a single issue if they choose to stay in the relationship after you’ve had more these intense personal discussions.
However, before we make a commitment forever, it’s important not to hide critical information about ourselves like our mental health challenges. You don’t want to be marked as someone who is deceptive, and you don’t want to live with hiding heavy secrets from your life partner.
Is it normal to become more anxious when I start a relationship? I feel like I become too “clingy” or insecure.
Yes, it is normal to be anxious at the beginning of the relationship. It’s even recommended to a certain extent since you should be focused and aware on how you present yourself.
However, this is very different from exposing that you are clingy or insecure. If you let your insecurity show, your chances of turning this relationship into something long term will decline automatically. Almost everyone is looking for someone who is independent enough to choose their partner by choice, not because of neediness.
Work to convince yourself through meditation, positive self-talk, or through therapy that you are worthwhile, and that the person you will date will gain a great deal by being with you. Also, convince yourself that if it doesn’t work out you’re still a catch, and that this person probably wasn’t right for you.
Why is it so hard to let a relationship go, knowing your partner let it go a long time ago?
The less we believe in ourselves, the more unable we are to let go of past relationships. In this scenario, we’ve convinced ourselves that this person is our salvation, or that she or he is the only person that we can enjoy our life with or love. The fear of being left with just ourselves is proof of how we sometimes over value another person’s presence in our lives. We might think that we’ll never be able to love anyone again in the same, intense way.
In reality we are clinging to a person who doesn’t want us as their partner, and this actually does a lot of harm to our self-image. If we continue to think this way, rest assured that things will only get worse. They will have less patience for us over time, and we will connect their worst thoughts about who we are to our self-worth.
Sometimes we need to treat behavior like this in the same way we treat someone who is addicted to substance or other analogs. In order to be weaned from an addiction you need to take steps that are extreme and total, like distancing and detaching yourself from this person physically (i.e. not working or living in the same area, not talking, writing, or texting them). Try this until you find it easier to live without their presence in your life, and without being offended by knowing someone doesn’t want you in the same way anymore.
What are the best ways to avoid a “funk” after a dating rejection? I want to stop obsessing over it!
Obsession stems from anxiety. This anxiety is a result of fear that you will never find someone who is worthwhile, and that you are not worth anything.
It’s fine to be sad after a relationship (no matter the duration) has ended. Let’s not be afraid of sadness. Although it isn’t pleasant, it’s sometimes an important step in order to arrive at your next relationship. And some sadness helps you find closure from the last relationship.
If you obsess over rejection, you’re likely on a road to nowhere. Relationships can drain your energy, especially when the other person is not excited about what you have to offer. This is the time when you, and others in your support circle, need to remind you how wonderful you are. This helps you return you to your independent self, as long as the support remains somewhat objective.
Again, short-term therapy can help remind you of all the positive things you bring to others’ lives and also direct you to look for people who are a better fit in your life.
Why do some choose to cut people out of their lives, rather than fix relationship problems?
The short answer is because it’s so much easier. The fallacy is that if the current relationship doesn’t work out, the next one is just around the corner, and it can be so much better.
Yes, the next one is likely around the corner. But if we don’t learn how to fight for the one that we are in, then history will repeat itself.
Staying in a complicated relationship demands that we will look in the mirror of the other person’s eyes, see our unflattering sides, and deal with our shortcomings. It demands that we deal with behaviors we don’t want to change, which can seem disturbing and insurmountable.
Changing ourselves in order to accommodate another person is not convenient, yet it can be an opportunity for growth. We can simply ask ourselves if we are givers or takers in this relationship. If we take more than we give, it might be a positive growth experience to compel ourselves to make necessary changes.
We Hope This Helps Your Grow in Your Relationships!
Thanks again to our Instagram followers for their excellent questions about relationships and mental health. It’s important to note that our individual challenges are unique, but we’re not alone in our experiences when it comes to these tough topics.
If you feel you could benefit from extra support in your relationship, as an individual or a couple, Talkspace therapists are available to guide you through these challenges.


The post Our Relationship Expert Gets Real With Your Questions About Love appeared first on Talkspace Online Therapy Blog.

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8 Ways Menopause Can Affect Your Health and Sleep

​​​​​If you’re a woman in your 40s or 50s, you’ve probably given some thought to how perimenopause and menopause might affect your health. Today we discuss the connection.
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Teen Girls Harm Themselves More Than Boys, CDC Finds

Nearly 20 percent of teens in the U.S. report hurting themselves intentionally.
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How To Maintain Independence While in a Relationship

Friends and media tell us about breakups where people emerge with no sense of self. Who am I now that I’m single? Healthy relationships thrive on both partners being able to maintain a clear sense of self, especially when it comes to their most fundamental needs and desires. Even knowing this, however, it’s still easy to accidentally find yourself giving more to the relationship or your partner than is ultimately sustainable.
We can wear ourselves out in relationships through the best intentions and desire, and so often it’s because we want what a loving relationship promises — love and acceptance — that we’re willing to give up our own independence and perspective in order to have it.
With this in mind, it’s important to ask — how can you maintain your independence while in a relationship?

Know Your Habits, Understand Your History
Even if you have an concept of what an ideal relationship might look like, it is worth a re-examination of your past experiences to better understand how your relationships work. In their book Attached, Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel Heller draw upon decades of psychology research to describe that how we were nurtured as children can deeply affect the way we deal with our adult relationships. Their outline of attachment suggests that we each generally behave in relationships in one of three ways:

Anxious — preoccupation with being loved back by intimate partners

Avoidant — concern over loss of independence by being overwhelmed in intimate relationships

Secure — comfortable with intimacy

Even when we had relatively calm and safe upbringings, how we were treated when expressing fear, distress, and insecurity as children taught us patterns of how we are supposed to be loved. Too little or too much response to those negative feelings required us to adjust our modes of behavior. We may avoid intimacy even if we want it, or we may have subconscious fears of abandonment or betrayal, even with the most trustworthy of partners.
Find Self Love
The vulnerability in expressing need leaves us open to feeling how we deserve to be treated. In early development, that self-image is formed quite clearly. In Attachment In Adulthood: Structure, Dynamics, And Change, researchers Mario Mikulincer and Phillip Shaver outline the correlation between attachment style and self image.
In it, they show that our partners can reaffirm our self image by behaving in patterns that are familiar to us, even when patterns are destructive or abusive. However, it is important to not confuse these patterns with stability, nor are they a replacement for growth as an individual. A loving and supportive partner is one who loves and encourages the path to self discovery, both within the relationship and during time spent alone.
Reunite Again And Again
Mindful time apart can lead to a bond stronger than before. Solitude and privacy are so often confused with hiding and secrecy, but it’s only in being alone do we get perspective on our true identity and where our emotions and needs may have changed.
Time apart for self reflection may inform our relationships in ways that even the most thorough and open discussions cannot. Internal emotional changes, new perspectives, and emerging desires are sometimes only apparent with enough time to let them be seen. Surprising or even scary at first, those self discoveries are ultimately gifts for you to share with your partner and deepen your bond with renewed understanding and care.
A lasting relationship cannot be sustained by the fear of what could be lost by being apart. Healthy independence within a relationship allows you and your partner to feel the love gained by being together, and to choose that love again and again.

The post How To Maintain Independence While in a Relationship appeared first on Talkspace Online Therapy Blog.

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Are You And Your Thoughts The Same?

Why getting stuck in your thoughts isn’t helpful & a couple ways to get unstuck…
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Is Your Relationship Balanced or Boring?

Nobody wants a relationship that consists of endless drama and fighting, but an emotionless and monotonous relationship doesn’t sound much better. Many people wonder whether their relationship has enough passion and excitement. So how can you tell if your relationship is balanced or boring?

What Makes a Relationship “Balanced?”
A balanced relationship is one where there is no daily conflict. When there are conflicts, they are worked through without threats, ultimatums, or wounding insults. Partners enjoy being together, but also have interests and friends outside the relationship. Jealousy is not very frequent, as partners trust one another and prioritize their commitment.
How Dysfunction Plays into our View Of Relationships
One major issue to explore is whether you are used to being in dysfunctional relationships, or you grew up witnessing one between your parents. When people are used to being in, or observing, volatile and unpredictable relationships, it changes their idea of what amount of drama is “normal” for a relationship.
If you grew up seeing daily screaming and fighting, you may know that you want a healthier relationship. But you still may subconsciously expect that any romantic relationship will involve a certain level of arguing, jealousy, and storming out of the house in a rage. If you grew up with a parent with substance use or personality disorder issues, this is amplified.
Once you find a more stable partner, it may feel to you that they don’t care as much about you because they don’t initiate arguments, try to control you, or act jealous. If this is the case for you and your relationship, then it is essential to recognize how your ideas about relationships were shaped by your past experiences and observations. It will take time to get used to a new normal, where a relationship isn’t characterized by constant turmoil and drama.
Understanding Change in a Relationship Over Time
It is also important to think about how your feelings may have changed over the course of your relationship. The initial stages of a relationship are called the honeymoon stage because everything feels perfect and exciting. Both people generally feel that they have finally found the person that they have been looking for, the person who is ideally suited to them.
The honeymoon stage can last a couple of years, and after that, the disillusionment stage may kick in, followed, hopefully, by an acceptance stage where there is deeper love and seeing your partner more objectively and compassionately.
How to Push Through “Boredom”
If your feelings of boredom have been there since the inception of the relationship, a stage at which most people feel extremely positive and excited, this would be a sign that perhaps you and your partner are not compatible.
If, however, your feelings of boredom emerged after a couple of years of monogamy, this would be much more common and less of a reason to doubt the relationship as a whole. Instead, boredom at this stage may be able to be improved by communicating more frequently, doing exciting things together, tackling new projects, reading books together (Author’s Note: My book 52 Emails To Transform Your Marriage was written specifically for couples feeling bored or disconnected), or even going to couples counseling.
Finding Middle Ground
Nobody wants to settle for an uninspiring relationship, but there has to be a healthy middle ground. If you recognize aspects of yourself and your relationship in this article, share it with your partner and discuss! Often, when both partners can discuss an issue openly, even boredom, they can work together to tackle the issue, and to reconnect.


The post Is Your Relationship Balanced or Boring? appeared first on Talkspace Online Therapy Blog.

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