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Christy Gualtieri

Scary Air

by Christy Gualtieri

You’ve most likely heard the saying, “Do one thing that scares you,” a popular – and somewhat useful – nudge designed to move you out of your comfort zone. Doing things that scare you, or even things that make you uncomfortable help give you confidence, trust in your own abilities, and spur you onward into even greater things.

I know all these to be true, my friends, because just the other day I also did something that scared me: I put air in my car tires.

Putting air in your car tires seems to be the kind of thing that 99% of car owners would probably not bat an eye at, probably because it’s one of the most simple ways to take care of your car.  But while I consider myself a fairly intelligent person, there’s a surprising (at least to me) number of “simple” things that I struggle to do. Jello, for example. I can’t make jello.  I’ve burned spaghetti (which you are supposed to boil).  I have been that person at the gas pump who has sprayed gasoline all over her pants during a six-hour drive across the state.  (In my defense, I learned how to drive in New Jersey, where it is illegal to pump your own gas, so I didn’t learn how to until I was solidly ten years behind every other American driver my age not from New Jersey.) So you’ll understand why I was nervous about pumping air into my tires.  It just seemed hard.  There’s the little cap you have to screw off, and what if I lost it? And what if I put too much air in, causing the tire to explode right in my face? What if I couldn’t do it, and everyone would see what a failure I was?

But it’s the autumn, the time of year when the cooler weather necessitates a trip to put air in my tires. And while I am very lucky to be married to an extremely capable man who is more than willing to do things like this for me, I was determined this year to learn the skill for myself. So I drove up to the air pump at the local station, read the instructions, and got to work. I put in the amount of air pressure I wanted, hooked up the pump to my tire (after screwing off the little cap), and it worked! The machine beeped when it was full, and I replaced the cap and moved on to the next tire. No tires exploded in my face, and when I was finished, I replaced the air pump hose back to the machine with total satisfaction.

I was downright ecstatic…until I found out it didn’t work. When I got back in my car to drive away, my tire pressure numbers hadn’t inflated. I was so annoyed! What did I do wrong? What was wrong with me? Would I ever learn to fill my own tires? I drove the short distance home, hoping the numbers would readjust, but they stayed put. I asked my husband what it could be and he told me that he’d show me a few days later when we went out for church, but I wanted to figure it out for myself, today.

And so I did. A couple of hours later, I returned to the same gas station and the man there said the air pump was broken; they’d just hadn’t had a chance to put up a sign.  So off I went to another station down the street with an air pump, absolutely determined to get this right. I put in the pressure numbers, hooked up the pump, and…success! I managed to fully and properly inflate all four car tires by myself. I drove away just as pumped as my tires!

I fully understand how ridiculous this all sounds, especially from a grown woman, but it really was something that scared me and it was something I was able to gain a lot of confidence from. I learned that I was able to persevere and figure out what I wanted and needed to do, and I did it. It’s probably the smallest example in the world, but those are the best kind, because everyone can do them. Even you!

So choose something that scares you today – or at least makes you a little nervous. It can be anything: a hard conversation with a friend, base jumping off the Grand Canyon, whatever. Even putting air in your car tires. But give it a try. Because even if you don’t succeed at it, like I didn’t the first time I tried, you’ll know you got that far, you’re still alive, and you can always try again.

Until next time, be well!
Christy

 

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Mandi C. Dalicandro-Turk

Part 2: The Essentials of Developing Quality Relationships

by Mandi C. Dalicandro-Turk, MSPC

A Series of Articles: 2 of 6 –  How Respect & Appreciation Increase Rewarding Relationships.  

This is the second in a series of 6 articles relating to developing quality relationships.  Developing quality relationships is complex, layered, and many times, grappled with throughout life.  Respect and Appreciation are the focus of today’s article.

Respect is an important factor in each relationship throughout life. First, consider the importance of respect for yourself.  A strong presence of respect centered internally assists with understanding and valuing yourself and others; and dually, with developing quality relationships.  At times, an individual may grapple with respecting one’s self; if this occurs, it’s important to invest time and the work associated with learning ways to develop a high level of respect for one’s self. In addition, this process assists with developing capacities to give respect in each relationship and in a variety of environments.

At times, it is important to consider the differences and many similarities in regards to how each individual gives and receives affirmations of respect and appreciation.  For example, showing appreciation for a partner fixing the vehicle and/or making dinner on a busy evening is an important aspect of daily life.  Therefore, giving your loved one positive verbal affirmations assists in showing respect and appreciation; for others, physical engagement, a hug for example, or an act of encouragement supports this intention.  In each relationship, it’s important to take inventory of your thoughts, feelings, reactions, behaviors, and words; and to ask yourself where the motivation for your words and behaviors are coming from.

Consider the following:

  1. Seek out relationships with a give-give ratio: Having respect for one’s self assists in setting healthy boundaries and seeking out healthy and enjoyable relationships. Consider if you feel supported by and support the other individual. The deeper meaning here is that each person supports the other’s gifts and differences- each person has a different set of gifts in life. Respect and appreciation assist in supporting, nurturing, and balancing values, goals, and the complexities of change throughout; even positive change has the propensity to be difficult without each.
  2. The flexibility to grow as a human-being, with mutual trust, support, respect, and appreciation throughout life’s natural changes: Change is inevitable and extremely difficult for some. For many, this brings an uncomfortable awareness and vulnerability. During times when a person has difficulty with feelings of vulnerability and/or experiencing fear and the unknown, engaging in disrespectful behaviors erode the relationship.  At times, the trust and safety factors an individual desires to feel are diminished over time; which destroys the relationship. Many times, each person is left confused as to what happened. Engaging in a consistent respectful dialogue and behaviors, while showing appreciation during change and stressful times, increases feelings of trust, safety, and love, while strengthening the relationship long-term.
  3. Disappointment, Fear, & Frustration: In a relationship it’s important to refrain from engaging in critical, blameful, and harming behaviors where the probability of pain and isolation is evident. The mentioned behaviors destroy individuals and the relationship as a whole. Each person may experience loneliness, and engage in the relationship while tolerating stress and frustration. There are times however, where difficult transitions may assist in grappling with deeper issues, which has potential to increase awareness, life satisfaction, and create new opportunities moving forward.
  4. Implement a balance of strength: At times, it’s vital to express feelings and emotions even when it’s uncomfortable or difficult. In other situations, a level of graciousness and acceptance is inherently beneficial to the self, the person being engaging with, and to the relationship as a whole. With this, it’s important to ask the difficult question of what is driving the decision to share or avoid sharing. The motivation in itself has the potential to change the outcome of whether to share and in what manners.
  5. Respect and appreciation ‘look’ different for each individual and has shifts throughout the lifespan. Reflect on each relationship; if you’re in a relationship where respect and appreciation are lacking, it’s important to address the issues and move forward from there. Many times, this involves adjustments in how a person approaches her/himself, how each individual approaches the other person, and by learning healthier ways to communicate. Therapy is beneficial to assist with working through current and/or old and outdated behaviors that are void of benefit and hindering to growth and the development towards giving and receiving respect and appreciation.

In conclusion, developing respect and appreciation are part of a complex process of behaviors that work towards increasing the quality of intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships, mutual understanding, support (including during difficult times), and enjoyment.  When coupled with communication, a relationship has the capacity to be mutually satisfying and full of support, caring, and positive interactions. COMING SOON: article 3 of 6 in the series: How to Increase Healthy Communication

Learn, grow, & enjoy,
Mandi

eTalkTherapy - talk with a counselor online
Mandi C. Dalicandro-Turk

The Essentials of Developing Quality Relationships

A Series of Articles: 1 of 6 – The Reality of Being Human

This is the first in a series of 6 articles relating to developing quality relationships and the associated, at times, painstaking issues to consider along the way. An individual has choices as to who s/he has a relationship with, to what degree, and in what manners to engage. This includes the degree to which an individual engages with family, friends, romantic partners, and within the community.

It’s important to consider that those an individual chooses to have a relationship with will engage in different roles at different times. First, it is important to consider meeting a level of your own needs. At times, individuals have difficulty developing the skills it takes to nurture one’s self. A combination of a quality relationship with one’s self and different types of mutual relationships to assist one whole human (you) and give the opportunities to work towards relationships where two or more humans help enhance, nurture, strengthen, and balance each other in healthy ways. In today’s society, life has the propensity to become busy. A great way to stay connected is by taking time to call, text, check in on one another, and/or set up a lunch date; each are important factors in maintaining a relationship. Relationships take work, which increases commitment, investment, and value.  Relationships benefit from being nurtured and having the opportunities for growth, change (this is an important facet), mutual support, laughter, increase listening skills and being heard, and the numerous psychological and physiological benefits associated with each.

At times, humans appear to sacrifice the opportunities to have higher quality relationships- one’s that are mutual, positive, nurturing, fun, supportive, and giving from each person in the relationship. Many times, this brings a person into therapy seeking out support, healing, and learning ways to build strong, positive, and supportive relationships.

Consider the following and how each applies to your current relationships:

  1. Who do you have relationships with & who do you avoid relationships with? What are your motivations for each?
  2. Do you take the opportunities to build relationships with family, friends, and within community?
  3. Does fear and/or anxiety contribute to limiting the opportunities to create mutually caring relationships; if so, in what ways?
  4. What type of relationship(s) do you desire in your life? How will each enhance your growth as a person?

The Realities of Being Human

At times, a person experiences neglect and/or trauma throughout childhood and/or in an adult relationship (this includes romantic partners), and the immense amount of pain associated with interpersonal relationships containing the above mentioned behaviors. Many times, clients feel a level of obligation to have a relationship with a person even after what happened throughout the relationship or is currently a part of an individual’s daily environment; which obstructs growth, development, and contributes to physiological and psychological issues over time. Seeking out therapy assists an individual in processing what happened and is happening internally, contributes to healing the immense pain, and moving forward from, many times, decades of harm.

An individual will then have the opportunity to choose to continue the relationship as it is and find ways to cope with the trauma, stress, and/or anxiety, to minimize interactions while benefiting from a shift to lighter subjects that are void of a deeper connection (which many times exist only from one person), or to cease the relationship entirely.  Each are associated with a psychological process and a high level of pain that benefits from long-term therapy. Many clients experience the memories and contend with the pain and/or rumination of a harmful relationship; many times, as if it was happening currently.  For many, even thoughts of healthier relationships evoke fear, anxiety, and cognitive dissonance. During the therapeutic process, internal healing begins and assists clients with allowing one’s self to move towards a healthier set of relationships in the future.

Consider the following:

  1. Do you give yourself permission to love, miss, or have a level of affection for a person knowing the relationship is best kept as part of a past learning experience- even if it was a difficult one or would benefit from change moving forward?

    Many times, this is where realistic expectations and healing begin.  The thoughts and feelings associated with any significant relationship take time to decrease in intensity, whether a family member, close friend, or romantic partner.

  1. Are there behavioral health or mental health issues that make it difficult to maintain a healthy relationship for either individual or for each person involved?

    It’s important to seek individual therapy, couples therapy, and/or family therapy to learn how work together in positive manners and communicate well- including difficult times.

Most individuals, engaging in relationships consider the differences of being human, while working towards developing relationships that encompass respect, appreciation, a level of graciousness, communication, support, acceptance and adaptation during change, and growth. Each will be discussed throughout the 6 part series. COMING SOON: article 2 of 6 in the series: How Respect & Appreciation Increase Rewarding Relationships.

Learn, grow, & enjoy,
Mandi

eTalkTherapy - talk with a counselor online
Mandi C. Dalicandro-Turk

Experiencing Winter in Healthy Ways 

By Mandi C. Dalicandro-Turk, MSPC

For some, winter evokes the visualization of a warm cozy fire, and the sight of a freshly fallen snow. For others, it’s contending with months of the rigid cold, darkness in the early hours of the evening, months of long nights, and the occasional icy conditions. Many experience each in combination. The winter season keeps many from engaging in activities that are enjoyable for most times of the year, brings people indoors, and at times, isolated and with minimal supports, more time to think, and lowered frequency of social interactions.

The following considerations will give a combination of factors that many contend with throughout the winter season, and examples of ways to cope with and experience winter in an array of healthy ways.

1. Distraction-the healthy kind: It’s essential to consider how an individual’s temperament, personality, emotional lability, mental health, and/or behavioral health impacts day to day functioning; especially during the winter season.  For example, an individual with a negative affect has potential to increased vulnerability to depression, anxiety, and mood disorder.  For many individuals, the months of early evenings and dark nights contribute to isolation and increased frequency of a negative internal dialogue, which may contribute to isolation, less social supports and positive interactions. Each of these factors impact an individual’s quality of life greatly. It is important to find ways to increase positive interactions, and lower negative and self-defeating thought processes.

This type of distraction is a great coping mechanism for contending with the winter seasons. For example, the presence of a negative internal dialogue, anxious and/or depressive behaviors and symptoms are difficult for individuals to experience; this becomes more difficult during times where increased isolation, less options for activities, and the potential for less supports is present.  Learning the discipline to distract from negative thoughts more readily will increase mood, positive thought processes, and decrease depressive and anxious symptoms, while allowing negative thoughts to minimize.  It is important to note that at times, negative thought patterns, and anxious and depressive symptoms are part of a long-term cognitive process and more difficult to distract from.  When this happens, a person does have the option to allow, for example, ten to fifteen minutes to focus on the negative thoughts, journal those thoughts and feelings, and then begin engaging in distracting behaviors. Additionally, if the negative thoughts and/or feelings return, it is natural to feel frustrated.  However, if this does happen, it is important to remember that with practice, it will be easier to distract from the negative thoughts and feelings. Practicing distraction in this manner has the potential to decrease the intensity and duration of negative internal dialogues, and assist with symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Examples of Distraction are found below in Change the Environment.

  1. Change the Environment: Consider what is enjoyable; especially during the warmer weather when the opportunities for activities seem more available and with a more extensive variety of choice present. Now get creative. Take one or more of those activities and consider what could replace it during the winter months. For example, replace the adventure of hiking with snow tubing or take a brisk walk when the weather conditions permit. If spending time in the elements feels a bit overwhelming, volunteer, spend time with pets, or possibly volunteer at an animal shelter; if that feels enjoyable and seems to be a good cause. In addition, take time away from social media, and carve out time to have conversations with friends or family. This is beneficial over the phone and definitely in person. It is common to feel a shift in mood, increased levels of relaxation, and overall feelings of wellness after visiting with family or friends. Spend time laughing and engaging in humor, have a game night, or watch a funny movie.  It is enjoyable and brings a healthy and light-hearted fun to daily life. Lastly, take time to meditate, listen to music, and/or dance.

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  1. Therapy: When difficulties with mood exist, it’s essential to talk with your therapists. The process of therapy assists with issues with mood, symptoms of depression, anxiety, and an array of behavioral health and mental health issues. For example, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is present in approximately 5% of the population and occurs approximately 40% of the year (Kirlansik & Ibay, 2013, p. 607).  Most times, SAD begins during the fall or winter months and starts to subside during the spring. However, this pattern has the potential to be present in the summer months (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p. 187).  In this occurrence, the individual feels much better during winter months (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p. 187).  Symptoms of SAD may be mild, moderate or severe. It is vital to seek out a therapist at the onset of difficult and distressing symptoms; especially when symptoms become unmanageable and begin to interfere with daily activities. At times, an individual may feel restless, have difficulty concentrating or starting a task, feel anxious, experience high levels of stress, and/or have a lessened desire for things enjoyable at other times of the year.  It’s imperative to seek out support before emotional difficulties during the winter season manifest into SAD; especially if a biological predisposition exists and/or environmental factors are present. A therapist will be able to utilize a variety of methods, treatments, and techniques to assist with managing and lowering symptoms and restoring overall behavioral health and mental health.

***

  1. Natural Light: Exposure to natural light daily is essential. It assists with elevated mood and increased vitamin D levels. Therefore, open the blinds and take time outside when weather conditions permit. The winter season lasts for many months and taking this opportunity as often as possible is important for experiencing a healthy winter. On warmer days, it may be in the form of a walk or taking time out for a hot cup of tea on the porch. Give as many opportunities for sunlight and fresh air as possible. On the days the temperature is high enough to crack a few windows without increasing heating bills, take time to enjoy the rare opportunity. Take time to enjoy the natural sunlight while commuting to and from work each day. I enjoy the opportunities for fresh air and sunlight from opening all the windows in my vehicle. I find it relaxing.  Lastly, if natural sunlight is difficult to get exposure to, for any reason, there are light therapy lamps available as an alternative. I have known therapists and clients that use light therapy during the winter months.

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  1. Start a Project: Projects are a great way to enjoy the winter months. It’s a time to enjoy accomplishing things indoors; in the warmth of home. At times, there is opportunity to tackle larger projects in the home during the winter. This could be working with wood, painting a room, or refinishing an entire section the house (yes, this has potential to be enjoyable for some). However, if this feels overwhelming, start small and tackle cleaning out a few drawers or reorganizing a small area. With any project, it is important to feel a sense of accomplishment once the project is completed. I occasionally take time to build something small out of wood. It’s something I learned many years ago from my father and continue to enjoy currently.  Additionally, many individuals enjoy working in the arts, which has potential to feel therapeutic as well. Winter is a great time to take a class in something enjoyable. For example, my neighbor takes a painting class and has mentioned many times how much she enjoys the creative and social aspects of the class. Lastly, if there are children roaming around, take time to spend time in their space doing an art or science project, or simply carve out time to read a book or series of books together.

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6. Exercise: Physical health has power to improve overall health, balance cortisol levels and stress hormones, and support mental health and wellness. For example, for those with a passion for running, spending time outside in the elements and nature is quite familiar and comfortable. When winter conditions bring individuals inside, for many runners, getting on a treadmill has the tendency to feel restricting and well, frustrating. Yet, many individuals understand the importance of the safety factors involved with ice, slick outdoors conditions, and unsafe sidewalks and trails during this time of the year.  Running is one example of adjusting physical activity in the winter, many types of physical activity and sports are limited to being indoors. This is where having numerous activities to engage in is beneficial.  At times, individuals will start a gym membership that lasts only through the difficult winter months and when the conditions are too harsh to be outside, exercise is indoors.  Exercise is something extremely personal and individual. It is important to find the right environments and educated trainers to assist with safety and personal goals. At times, individuals feel uncomfortable and/or insecure in regards to personal abilities or performance when starting an exercise regimen. Working through this difficult process builds discipline, confidence, and increases goal setting behaviors.  It’s important to stay physically active consistently, to adapt activities during the winter months, and to have fun in the process. Lastly, eating healthy and well balanced each day is important for mental clarity, focus, mood, energy, and keeping away unnecessary inflammation. Treat the self well, be kind on days of struggle, set mini-goals, give time to adjust and readjust to new behaviors if necessary, and value the importance of maintaining a balance between physical health, behavioral health, and mental health.

In closing, it is important to venture out and try new things. An individual has the opportunities to try many things- ultimately it comes down to what works for each individual.  It’s important to be open to trying new things consistently throughout life; even when it’s frustrating. Consistent reminders to take one behavior that isn’t working and to replace it with another behavior that may be beneficial to overall health and wellness is vital to experiencing a healthy winter (applicable with most behaviors). In a situation where an individual has tried different things, is still struggling, and having difficulty figuring out what works, or doesn’t know where to begin, seek out professional assistance from a therapist. Lastly, it is imperative to treat the self with kindness, to experience laughter and humor each day, to give time to adapt to new habits and behaviors, and to stay positive in trying new activities. Be realistic in regards to what each individual contends with and carries each day, as well as, individual starting points, and the time and dedication it takes to work towards uncovering each of the facets involved in reaching long-term goals towards a healthier life.

Feel free to share some of the ways you’ve implemented new habits and behaviors to experience winter in healthy ways.  Leave a comment with any questions or curiosity you may have for more information regarding this or other subjects.

Until next time – learn, grow & enjoy,
Mandi

References

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Kurlansik Stuart L, Ibay Annamarie D. Seasonal Affective Disorder. Indian Journal of Clinical Practice. 2013 Dec; 24(7): 607-610.