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Managing The Late-Winter Blues

Managing The Late-Winter Blues

Dr. Chelsea Twiss is an individual therapist, life coach, couples counselor and creativity coach. She specializes in helping couples restore emotional and sexual intimacy, individuals heal and grow, and creatives find their voice.

Taking Care of You

 

As a therapist and life coach (and person with my own life going on) I’m well aware that we live in a fast-paced culture with copious demands that cause us to become used to high levels of stress. Human beings are adaptable creatures and we are particularly adept at meeting the demands of our environment, even in today’s world where multi-tasking and juggling multiple responsibilities is the norm.

This time of year can be hard: For many people, the holiday season can be particularly stressful. Fulfilling roles and family obligations arise which often lead many of us to a place of anxious distress. But what happens after all the chaos and events of the season end yet the winter months keep dragging on?

Dealing With The Late-Winter Blues

After the burst of holiday energy subsides, it can be easy to fall into a state of feeling low or a general lack of energy and motivation in the coming months of winter. Depending on where you live, the weather is usually gray and the temperature drops, family and friends depart and it can feel lonely.

This experience of feeling low and resistance to the slowness associated with the winter months can also often put strains on our relationships with others as well as our relationships with ourselves. Often times the inclination is to isolate or pretend to be feeling okay when we aren’t. These responses to feeling low, while they make perfect sense, only serve to further distance us from our connections with ourselves and with one another.

As winter drags on you might begin to wonder if you will ever see the sun again. You can help yourself through this experience by returning to some simple practices that allow grounding and slow-moving energy to flow.

Acceptance & Self-Compassion

Exercising self acceptance and self-compassion is imperative during this time and will ultimately help resolve feelings low sooner than fighting the way you’re feeling. I’m sure you’ve heard these buzz words before and maybe you will roll your eyes at them but these are the first things we often forget to do when feeling low.

Usually our inner monologue becomes something like, “What’s wrong with me?” or “Why am I feeling this way?” These statements discourage us from accepting where we are in the present and prevent us from embracing what we are truly needing in the moment. [More about mindfulness strategies here]. Below are some basic ways to practice acceptance and self-compassion when experiencing you’re not feeling great.

1) Check-in With Yourself

The first step to achieving acceptance and self-compassion is to check-in and notice when these thoughts or feelings arise. This first step is very powerful and is a skill that can be used not only to help manage difficult emotional experiences, but also to improve relationships with others.

Usually when we feel something uncomfortable, our first reaction may be to suppress it, deny it or fight it. Learning to roll with the punches and increase self and other acceptance is built on a foundation of emotional awareness. You feel the way you feel for a reason. Sometimes that reason is difficult to ascertain, but for the time being, simply noticing is your number one task.

2) Remind Yourself That It’s Okay To Say No

My mother used to say that nothing is worth doing if you aren’t doing it with a glad heart. This is ironic as my mother is also someone I endearingly refer to as the Queen of Doing Everything – a trait I am afraid I have also inherited. I’m sure many readers can relate that it’s easy to take on numerous tasks, especially when our self-worth is in doubt. Our impulse may be to rev up the engine and force ourselves into overdrive in order to escape feeling worthless or discontent with ourselves, piling on more tasks and responsibilities. But, if we have accomplished step one and have checked in with our feelings, when your friend invites you to their game night and your check-in tells you that your energy just isn’t there right now, it’s not only okay to say no, it’s actually healthy.

While you may worry about missing out, it will ultimately feel so good to give yourself what you’re needing in the moment versus denying yourself time that will, in fact, be restorative and prepare you for the exciting things to come tomorrow. If you’re already a natural no-sayer then keep on with the healthy self-care and boundaries, but this is something many people – especially in today’s busy world – generally struggle with.

3) Be Intentional With Your Quiet Time

 

It can be easy to turn on the TV and binge Netflix when you’re feeling low energy and depressed. While doing this is totally okay and feels good, it’s also very restorative to take some intentional downtime, especially when feeling low.

With the distractions of technology available at our fingertips, it can be easy to miss out on the important time of self-reflection that happens when our minds are quietly not focused on anything in particular. Some people spend lots of time avoiding intentional downtime. I often hear things from my clients like, “I don’t want to be alone with my thoughts.” With a few exceptions, it’s often healthy to be alone with your thoughts.

Our brains generally ramp up on anxiety when we haven’t given ourselves time during the day to be alone with our thoughts and so they keep us from sleeping at night or come up unexpectedly at unwanted times.

Intentional downtime can look different depending on the person; it can be as simple as laying on your bed or sitting on the couch quietly for ten minutes, taking a bath, meditating, taking a walk outside or sitting on a park bench and observing your surroundings. Whatever this might look like for you, it is important to give yourself this time to slow down and be present with you. Doing less and taking things off your plate may sound counterintuitive, but it actually often helps resolve feeling down sooner than trying to stay busy does.

4) Say How You’re Feeling

This last point is one of the key factors in maintaining connections with others while feeling down. A giant contributing factor to feeling down can be believing that we have to pretend we are feeling differently than we actually are to make others comfortable. It is important for your own mental health to say how you’re truly feeling when someone asks.

We may worry about disappointing others or making them uncomfortable, but the price of smiling through pain can be much greater than being honest when others ask how you’re doing. This is also an important part of exercising honesty and vulnerability in relationships that matter to us.

The false belief is that we are protecting those we love from a perceived burden when in fact we are distancing ourselves from them by not communicating how we are truly feeling or what we are truly needing in the moment. There is a significant amount of energy that goes into faking a smile for the imagined expectations we think others have of us.

Give yourself permission to say as much or as little as you feel comfortable about what you’re experiencing when others ask. Assert your needs in that moment around whether you need support from someone else or not. It’s okay to say you need some alone time to work through things. Again, the people who truly care about you will understand.

I hope you’ve found some of these strategies for managing feeling down and restoring energy helpful.

Warmly, 

Dr. Chelsea Twiss

More on the Blog

Signs You Have a Bad Therapist

Not all therapists, marriage counselors and life coaches are effective. Some are even unethical. Learn how to spot bad therapy on this episode of The Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.

How to Stop Gaslighting in a Relationship

Does your partner trick you into believing everything is your fault? Does your relationship make you feel worse about yourself, instead of loved and respected? Warning. Signs. Learn how to recognize gaslighting, and put a stop to it.

How to Become Self Employed

Cutting the cord of a stable career to chase your dreams can be scary, but doing your own thing is often worth it. Get insight into how it’s done on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.

Managing The Late-Winter Blues

As winter drags on it can drag down your mood and energy too. Here’s some compassionate, affirming advice for how to start feeling like yourself again.

Nutrition and Mood

Your mind and body are connected, and how you care for yourself impacts the way you feel emotionally. Here are some easy ways to nourish yourself, and boost your mood in the process.

Nutrition and Mood

Nutrition and Mood

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Healthy Body, Happy Heart

 

As a therapist and life coach, over the years I have gained a healthy respect for the limits of traditional talk therapy. The truth is that we’re complex, and many things factor in to how you feel day-to-day. Simply “working through the past” or gaining insight into your self (while fantastic) is not usually enough to actually change how you feel. Certainly, our thoughts impact our feelings, as do our life circumstances. When you make positive changes in either of those areas, you’re likely to feel better.

However, something that many therapists and life coaches (and physicians, and psychologists for that matter) miss is the dramatic interplay between physical and emotional wellness. The mind / body connection is not new-age hocus-pocus; it’s a fact. What is happening in your body impacts the way you think and feel. Likewise, the way you think and feel impacts your health. (I could bore you with a detailed explanation of the fight-or-flight stress response and it’s impact on cognition, immunity, sleep cycles and more, but I’m going to restrain myself today). Winning!

Nutrition and Mood

One big piece of the mind / body connection that has been largely overlooked in the past by the mental health community is the relationship between your nutrition and your mental and emotional wellbeing. Being deficient in certain vitamins and nutrients can have a significant impact on the way you feel, and according to recent research, by treating these deficiencies many “mental health” symptoms can be relieved. [More: Natural Remedies for Depression]

This is big news, particularly because it is very easy to become nutritionally malnourished in America these days. Much of the standard, processed American fare that is consumed by most of us regularly (pastas, sodas, fast foods, chemical sweeteners, pretty much anything bread-based or with potatoes in it) has little to no nutritional value.

Even conventional fruits and vegetables, if they’re grown on overworked depleted soil supplemented with sub-par chemical fertilizers can be nutritionally depleted and therefore have less nutritional value for you than you might think. It’s easy as pie (eating pie, that is) to become deficient in important vitamins and minerals, which can lead to a multitude of health problems as well as create feelings of anxiety and depression. Strategic incorporation of foods high in vitamins and minerals, and/or vitamin supplements may be extremely helpful in lifting your mood or calming a worried mind.

I’ll go over a few vitamins and minerals that have been found to be linked with mood, for your information. My big disclaimer here is that I am not a nutritionist or dietician and can’t offer any specific advice on supplements that you should or should not be taking given your unique health situation. If you think that you may be deficient and would like to get on a good nutritional plan I would recommend sitting down with a registered dietician or a naturopathic doctor.

Nutrients That Are Known To Impact Mood

Iron and Depression

  • If you’ve ever been anemic I don’t need to tell you that if you’re deficient in iron you feel awful. Tired, lethargic, inability to concentrate, loss of interest in activities you once found pleasurable…. Sounds familiar? Sounds like something from an anti-depressant commercial, doesn’t it? The effect of not having enough iron is similar to that of depression, particularly in the physical experience of depression (tired, withdrawn) but also in the experience of isolation, loss of pleasure, loss of energy, and overall depressed mood. Anemia (iron deficiency) is associated with higher levels of depression. It’s not unheard of for someone’s chronic “depression” to finally lift when their nutritional deficiencies are addressed appropriately.
    • Fun facts about iron: Iron is more absorbable from natural food sources than it is from supplements, so it’s best to get it from dietary sources if you can. It’s also more absorbable when taken with vitamin C. There is lots of iron in red meat, but if you avoid red meat or are a vegetarian and not conscientiously eating other sources of iron like spinach and broccoli, you can easily become deficient in this mineral. Iron supplements can be very helpful, however you can also take too much iron, so a safe bet would be to find a high quality multivitamin with iron in it.
    • For more info on depression, check out: Is it Depression?

Magnesium and Anxiety

  • I recently found out something fascinating about magnesium. It’s actually often given to people in hospital emergency rooms because deficiency in this mineral is so widespread, and deficits are associated with serious health problems like muscle cramps, heart spasms, high blood pressure, abnormal heart beats, and even seizures—as well as intense anxiety. Speaking generally, high amounts of magnesium are associated with relaxation, calm and “looseness” whereas low amounts of magnesium are associated with irritability, anxiety, and tenseness, both physically and mentally.
    • Fun facts about magnesium and mood: You can take magnesium as a supplement (but do your research, as some variants are more absorbable than others) but anther good way to get magnesium in your system in through Epsom Salt (Magnesium Sulfate) in your bath. If you want to go the dietary route, add dark leafy greens and beans to your diet.

B Vitamins, Depression, Anxiety and Energy Levels

  • These important vitamins play a role in the formation of neurotransmitters, the brain chemicals that mediate interactions between neurons and other structures in your brain. When your neurotransmitters are depleted, or not in balance people frequently experience a disturbance in their mood as well as in their overall energy. Antidepressant medications work by increasing the amount of available neurotransmitters you have via various mechanisms. It’s been found that people deficient in B vitamins often have symptoms of depression as well. There are a number of important B Vitamins but the major players associated with depression are Thiamin, Folate, B-6, and B-12.
    • Fun facts about B Vitamins: Foods with the most B Vitamins tend to be animal products like fish, red meat, eggs, and dairy. Unless they are very conscientious about getting enough of these vitamins from other sources (whole grains, nuts and seeds) Vegans may be at risk of becoming deficient, especially in B12. However there are plant based B12 supplements.

Vitamin D, Depression and Illness

  • Having low levels of vitamin D has been associated with depression, fertility issues, inflammatory responses and a less efficient immune system.
    • Fun facts about Vitamin D: Milk products are commonly fortified with vitamin D, but in addition to drinking milk you have a fast, easy and free source: Sunlight. Spending just a few minutes in the sun with bare arms and/or legs will give you more than enough vitamin D to boost your mood. Vitamin D deficiency due to lack of sunlight in cold, dark winter months may be one factor associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). People with darker skin living in northern latitudes and dairy-avoiders are even more vulnerable to this deficiency. Reason #374 to get some fresh air and exercise outside!

Fish Oil, Mood and Cognition

  • The helpful fats in fish oils contain molecules that help create the neurotransmitter seretonin, and also seem to make your cells more permeable to the neurotransmitters that regulate your mood. There’s enough recent evidence between the impact of fish oil on mental health symptoms that a forward-thinking psychiatrist may even prescribe them to you along with your anti-depressant medication.
    • Fun facts about fish oil: You can get your daily dose of Omega 3’s, the active ingredient in fish oil through natural sources such as fatty fish and flax-seed oil. However, if salmon burgers are not your thing, fish oil supplements are widely available now. Supplements vary in quality. Check labels to make sure that your selection has been tested for mercury and other contaminants.

Probiotics and Mood

  • We know that the neurotransmitter serotonin impacts mood. But did you know that the second largest serotonin-producing factory in your body, after your brain, is actually your gastrointestinal tract? Numerous studies have shown that the quality of your healthy gut bacteria can have a significant impact on your serotonin production and consequently, your mood. Fascinatingly, one research study took gut bacteria from happy mice and sad mice, and swapped them. The sad mice demonstrated more behaviors associated with happiness in mice (sniffing? running on their little wheels? the study did not elaborate, sadly), and the formerly happy mice became sadder. Poor mice. However, the takeaway for us is this: Probiotics impact mood.
    • Fun facts about probiotics: Natural sources of probiotics include fermented foods like kombucha, kimchee and sauerkraut. Supplements are also available. High quality probiotics can be pricy, however when you consider the impact they may have on your overall life satisfaction they’re worth it. Other ways to support your gut health is by eating high quality, high fiber, plant based foods. Apparently, roughage supports the growth of healthy bacteria.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Friends, I could go on. (Want to talk about exercise and mood? Don’t get me started!) But the point is that the way you feel on the inside, the way you think, and the way you react are all impacted by the way you care for yourself physically, as well as emotionally. That’s just one of the reasons why the counselors and coaches of Growing Self are such strong advocates of self-care. If you’ve been feeling not-so-hot lately, it may be a good idea to take a look at how you’ve been eating and caring for yourself physically.

You are a WHOLE being. You have thoughts, feelings, behaviors, relationships, and you are involved in different systems to boot. All of these impact you. It’s always helpful to talk about your feelings in order to understand yourself and develop compassion for yourself. However, you may move forward faster when you partner with a coach or counselor who will also support you in taking action to make positive changes in all parts of your life. You’re worth taking good care of!

All the best to you,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

More On The Blog

Signs You Have a Bad Therapist

Not all therapists, marriage counselors and life coaches are effective. Some are even unethical. Learn how to spot bad therapy on this episode of The Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.

How to Stop Gaslighting in a Relationship

Does your partner trick you into believing everything is your fault? Does your relationship make you feel worse about yourself, instead of loved and respected? Warning. Signs. Learn how to recognize gaslighting, and put a stop to it.

How to Become Self Employed

Cutting the cord of a stable career to chase your dreams can be scary, but doing your own thing is often worth it. Get insight into how it’s done on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.

Managing The Late-Winter Blues

As winter drags on it can drag down your mood and energy too. Here’s some compassionate, affirming advice for how to start feeling like yourself again.

Nutrition and Mood

Your mind and body are connected, and how you care for yourself impacts the way you feel emotionally. Here are some easy ways to nourish yourself, and boost your mood in the process.

Practical Tips for New Parents

Practical Tips for New Parents

Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT is passionate about helping individuals, families & couples create more fulfilling lives and relationships, and to function at an optimum level of health and happiness. Jessica is the facilitator of our Online Postpartum Support Group: New Baby, Happy Life where she shares more practical tips for new parents.

 

Sleep Makes Everything Better

 

By day, I am a marriage and family therapist. I love helping new moms and dads make the beautiful and often challenging transition into parenthood. However, my after-work hours consist of practicing what I preach in my parenting coaching and family therapy sessions as a mom of two littles myself. One of the most valuable lessons I can share with new parents is to prioritize sleep for both you and your children!

Sleep Training Can Be a Lifesaver

When my daughter was 4 months old she went from waking a manageable one time per night to waking up every 2 hours. I thought I was going to lose my mind! I was exhausted, sleep deprived, and overwhelmed by this new pattern. I decided it was time to sleep train.

I packed her up, went to the library, and checked out several books on sleep training. It was a Wednesday when I decided to make this life change and my plan was to start sleep training by that Friday. On Friday evening I skimmed through the rented books and decided sleep training was imminent.

Within a week my little one was sleeping through the night and I was reclaiming my sanity.

When You Educate Yourself You Can Teach Your Kids

During pregnancy, I went to many classes but not one of them talked about sleep, even more importantly, infant sleep. It had never occurred to me that good sleep habits are TAUGHT, and parents are the teachers.

Teaching your baby the habits of good sleep is a lifelong gift. Think about how often people talk about sleep, how great they feel when they get it, and how destroyed they feel when they don’t. Sleep matters.

Research shows that sleep is a critical component of good health, both physically and mentally. We need sleep to function at our optimal level.

Here are three reasons to prioritize your baby’s sleeping skills

When baby is sleeping, everyone is sleeping!

  • Teaching your baby to sleep through the night means that you, the parents, also get the sleep you need. People who are severely sleep deprived often experience increased symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Parents who are in a serious need of sleep may find that they are lacking in other ways as well including distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and general self-care.
  • Parenting is a hard job (not to mention any other employment/roles you may hold) and it is critical that you, as a parent, are getting enough sleep to manage it all.

 Teaching good sleep habits also teaches babies how to self soothe.

  • Self-soothing is a fundamental developmental skill. At some point, babies must learn how to calm themselves down from a state of stress or irritation independently of their primary attachment figure.
  • This is a skill they will utilize throughout life. A study published in the Journal of Behavioral Sleep Medicine found that one of the factors that determine an infant’s ability to sleep through the night is based on their ability to self soothe during the first five months of life.
  • Self-soothing may come in the form of sucking on their thumb, pacifier, stroking a security blanket, rubbing their eyes, playing with their hair etc. When a baby is able to self soothe, they are able to fall asleep without being held or rocked AND are able to put themselves back to sleep during the middle of the night without needing mom or dad!

 Knowledge is power.

  • Understanding baby sleep cycles, sleep cues, and positive sleep associations give you, the parent, back a sense of control.
  • When I talk to parents who have little ones that are not sleeping they share a sense of powerlessness, defeat, and frustration. They want their baby to sleep, they want to sleep, but they are unsure of how to make it happen.
  • Understanding the basics of sleep and the sleep teaching strategies provide a framework to operate from. It will help you dispel the myths that might be negating your progress (e.g. babies that sleep during the day, don’t sleep at night- THIS IS NOT TRUE!!!) and it will give you a roadmap for how to manage the sleep regressions that will undoubtedly come even after your baby is trained.
  • Once you have a handle on your baby sleep needs, sleep will come.

Remember, you are the parent, you can do this! May the sleep gods be with you.

Warmly,

Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT

 

P.S. If you need more support please join our Postpartum Support Group! It is a fantastic way to connect with others, learn new skills and strategies for managing this new job you are learning, and getting some extra support.

 

Dating After Divorce

Dating After Divorce

Markie Keelan, M.A., LPC is a therapist, life coach and dating coach whose mission is to help you create authentic happiness and satisfaction in your life especially when it comes to dating after divorce. She supports you to create a deeper connection with others, as well as actualize your life’s purpose.

 

Ready to find love again?

I often hear the question, “When is someone ready to start dating after divorce?” That’s a hard question to answer, but those who are newly divorced give dating a lot more consideration than the majority of single folks out there.

Their hesitation to jump back into the dating pool makes sense; the reason being is that divorce shakes our confidence in our ability to connect. When you’ve gone through a traumatic relationship loss or breakup it can make you question your ability to trust others but also your ability to trust your decisions on choosing a partner. Dating after a divorce feels much riskier.

So, if you are lost with no idea where to even start with dating after divorce, don’t worry, you are not alone and there are ways in which you can help yourself. Here are some guidelines to help you recover and get back out there.

Tips For Dating After Divorce

  • Revise your self-talk to support your success

Confidence plays a major role in the healing process of divorce. Some relationships can be similar to an addiction to another person. Addicts don’t believe that they’ll ever be able to survive without their drug. Divorcees can sometimes feel like they’ll never be able to find love again.

This is a negative thinking pattern that can lead to more than just lack of confidence but isolation, anxiety, and depression. So be in-tune with what you are telling yourself, and try to create a more empowering narrative. Chances are a good dose of loving self-talk could help your situation. For more on how to do this, check out our Happiness Class.

  • Assess whether you are you really ready

You may not be ready to date if you’re still, in your heart of hearts, privately carrying a torch for your Ex. Like an addiction, when a relationship ends we can be ambivalent and question whether or not we’ll go back into that relationship again. Many people spend months after a breakup or divorce half hoping your partner may change their mind and realize they made a huge mistake. If that’s the case, you then are putting your healing process in their hands. Furthermore, any new relationship you attempt is likely to spin its wheels.

Take back control by committing to moving yourself forward. It may be helpful to get clarity and closure about why your breakup or divorce was a good thing. For example, recognizing that your past relationship wasn’t meeting all of your needs and working on clarity and closure for yourself. This may mean you keep distance from this person and take every precaution not to slip back into the purgatory of waiting and hoping. For many people, getting the support of a great breakup recovery coach or participating in a breakup recovery group can help them heal and grow, as opposed to wallpaper over the pain by dating prematurely.

Only then will you be genuinely emotionally available to begin a healthy new relationship with someone else.

  • Make a needs list

Many times in failed relationships we were not getting our needs met before they ended. Maybe you don’t even know what your needs are in a relationship because they have been on the back burner for so long. Take your time to write out a list of what you NEED in a relationship. This list could include, honesty, trust, quality time, etc. This list will help guide you in the dating process to be honest with you and your future partner of whether or not this relationship will work for you.

I also encourage my dating coaching clients to ask themselves, ‘What do I need to be able to come to a new relationship the way I want to?’ This way you are also looking at what you need to be able to provide in order to connect back to others in a way that isn’t compromised by manipulation or feelings of inadequacy.

  • Let go of the pressure to heal  

Depending on what the reasons were for the divorce, it could take days, or it could take years to grieve this relationship trauma. Don’t let a time frame determine your journey towards love. Feeling pressured by time or other people doesn’t help us grow into the person we want to be. I encourage divorcees who are not ready to enter back into the dating world to engage your support network and surround yourself with people you can rely on.

  • Focus on self-care

Lastly, I’d suggest making time for self-care. Surround yourself with people who support you, do things that are fun, and make sure you invest in rest, nutrition, exercise, and your healing process. When you put energy into your self and your own wellness, you’ll exude the confidence and self respect that’s so attractive to potential new partners.

Dating after divorce can feel challenging, but you have a lot of power. Remind yourself that although your mind may be trying to trick you that the rest of your life is going to be an uphill battle, it doesn’t have to be. Using some of these different approaches I’ve described, like revising your self talk, working through the past before moving forward, prioritizing your needs, honoring your own timeline, and practicing good self care can arm you with a set of tools to help you feel genuinely able to move forward, and challenge yourself to be open to finding love again.

All the best to you,

Markie Keelan, M.A., LPC

Ps: If you’re ready to jump back in the pool, here are more ideas to support you in this podcast: The New Rules of Modern Dating — check it out!

Building Better Relationships

Building Better Relationships

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Communication & Relationship Skills To Make Your Good Relationships Great

 
Building Better Relationships: Have you ever left relationship books laying around, or put a relationship podcast on hoping that a certain someone may reflect on their own behavior and be a better partner or friend for you? Have you ever dropped a hint (or SEVEN) to a coworker, boss, or friend about how you feel in your relationship with them, and how you hope they might change?
 
So often, we feel helpless around how to improve our relationships, because we feel like the quality of our relationships depends on what OTHER people are doing or not doing. Relationships are frustrating when it feels like people aren’t communicating well with you, or aren’t meeting your needs, or respecting your boundaries, or are just being plain annoying.
 
It is totally natural and normal to think that our relationships would be better if only the other person got it together. (And hey, that would be much easier! I hear you!) However, needing the other person to be the change you wish to see in your relationships is not just frustrating, it’s disempowering. If you believe that having better relationships are all about how to get someone else to change it deprives you of the ability to actively build better relationships, and leads to a cycle of hurt and resentment.
 
Not knowing how to improve our relationships can lead to feelings of disappointment, resentment, and frustration. When relationship problems go on for too long, these feelings can begin to erode the fabric of our relationships. Hurt and resentment can lead to conflict in our relationships, or even worse, lead us to withdraw.
 
You don’t have to struggle with frustrating or disappointing relationships. There is an empowering path forward, and a way to build better relationships. A way YOU control.
 

Improve Your Relationships, Improve Your Life

 
You deserve to have fantastic relationships. You deserve to feel loved and cared for. You deserve to have your friends, family and partner show up for you. Our relationships — particularly the quality of our relationships — can be the single greatest source of happiness… or pain, anxiety and frustration. Building better relationships with your family, your friends, your coworkers, and your partner can be one of the most powerful strategies to improve your mood, self esteem, and overall happiness and life satisfaction.
 
Research shows that happiness is strongly correlated with the quality of your relationships. (As does health, and longevity for that matter.) The key to building better relationships with everyone starts with you: YOUR ability to communicate, to listen, to be assertive, to handle conflict, to manage your emotions, and to understand others. In short, your soft skills.
 

What Are Soft Skills and Why Are They So Important?

 
This may sound counter-intuitive, but by focusing on your own “soft skills” you can transform your relationships single-handedly. What are soft skills, and why are they so important? Soft skills are communication and relationship skills that contribute to high-quality, harmonious relationships.
 
Soft skills are vital to success in the workplace, happy, healthy marriages, and fulfilling, supportive relationships with friends and family. As a matter of fact “soft skills” are tied for first place with creativity, for the most important qualities that employers are looking for. But aside from your ability to get ahead in your career, investing in improving soft skills can lead to immense rewards in every area of your life. Why? Because although you cannot change others, you can change the way that people respond to you through developing excellent communication and relationship skills.
 

Building Better Relationships: It’s All About Empowering YOU

 
So today, on the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast I’m taking to my colleague (and relationship expert) Kathleen Carroll-Stutts. Kathleen is a life coach, individual therapist and couples counselor here on the team at Growing Self. She is the facilitator of our Online Relationship Skills Group, and is here today to share her system for how to develop yourself so that you can build better relationships with the most important people in your life.
 
Whether you’re hoping to have better relationships with your coworkers, wanting to heal rifts with your family, develop more close friendships, if you want to get better results in dating, or have a better relationship with your partner, you get some ideas about the communication skills and relationship skills that will empower you to get better results with other people.
 

How To Improve Your Communication Skills

 
Listen to our interview to learn how to develop the communication skills and relationship skills that can help you build better relationships. Specifically:
 

Foundational Relationship Skills

  • Self awareness – How understanding yourself, your needs, your feelings and your personal values can help you build better relationships with others.
  • Emotional regulation – How being able to manage your feelings can help you communicate more effectively in relationships.
  • Self respect – How having healthy self-esteem and self-love helps you have stronger and more authentic relationships.
  • Assertiveness – How to develop your voice and your truth in order to communicate your needs, rights and feelings to others.

Intermediate Relationship Skills

  • How to improve your communication skills by cultivating both self-expression skills as well as listening skills.
  • Setting boundaries – How to set appropriate and healthy limits with others.
  • How to manage conflict.

Advanced Communication Skills and Relationship Skills

  • Identifying our triggers – How to use our self-awareness, self-respect, and communication skills to avoid situations that would be bad for us and bad for our relationships.
  • Empathy – Learning how to understand the needs, rights, feelings and perspectives of others, and how to use that awareness to improve communication and build better relationships.
  • How to cope with relationship challenges including dealing with toxic people, how to deal with criticism, and what to do with bullies.

 

We sincerely hope that this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast helps to give you some direction for building better relationships in your life!

xo,
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby and Kathleen Carroll Stutts, M. Ed., LPC

 

Resources:
 
Personality Test: Enneagrams
 
 

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Building Better Relationships

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Advice From a Life Coach: How to Make Changes Stick

Advice From a Life Coach: How to Make Changes Stick

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Tips and Tools To Keep You On Track

 

Here we are, just a week into the new year. If you’re like many people, your track record on those resolutions may already be spotty. Or perhaps you’ve tossed the whole plan out the window already. Let’s face it: It’s hard to make new habits stick.

Here’s some advice from an experienced therapist and life coach:  Making changes is not about doing the thing perfectly every time. You don’t just hop in a car, point the steering wheel in the general direction of the grocery store, and then expect to get there do you? Of course not. From the moment you pull out of the driveway you’re turning, speeding up, slowing down, taking detours, stopping for gas — you adjust and flex the whole way there.

Likewise, real and lasting change is not about setting your sights on a distant goal and then beaming yourself there in a straight line. Actually doing things involves making mistakes (lots of mistakes, friends)  learning from those mistakes, and then using that new information to course-correct your way to success.

BUT. That’s not to say that it isn’t helpful to have tools and strategies to help you along the way. Just like you use your handy Google Map App to get you from A-Z, there are many useful tricks and life-hacks to make doing what you want to do easier than it would be if you just wandered out without a map.

Particularly if your goals for the new year involve creating a new keystone habit, and making it stick, there’s an easy way and a hard way. Here at Growing Self, we’re all about making growth and success as simple and painless as possible. So, here’s a bonus episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast to support you on your journey.

I’ll be discussing:

  • Useful apps and practical strategies to keep you on track
  • Psychological strategies to keep you motivated.
  • The mindsets that will lead you towards success… and the ones that will send you skidding off the rails
    •  

You can do this!

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

PS: As promised on the podcast, here are the links to some of the resources I discussed:

  • Finances – https://www.everydollar.com/
  • Weight Loss – https://www.noom.com/ & https://www.weightwatchers.com
  • Fitness – https://lp.dailyburn.com/201701/index.html
  • Time Management: https://fullfocusplanner.com/
  • Original Habit Trackers: https://bit.ly/2VuiN8y & https://bit.ly/2FdFSaG

 

 

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

Advice From a Life Coach: How to Make Changes Stick

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Enjoy the Podcast?

Please rate and review the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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Growing Self Counseling & Coaching
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