Categories
Uncategorized

How to Talk to Your Child About Mental Health

Talking to Your Children About Mental Health & Wellness

Mental health is a spectrum that people move up and down throughout their lives. Sometimes you feel better and stronger than other times. Sometimes we experience life events that we feel we can process on our own, and other times we need help to get through and heal from a difficult experience.

This truth applies to children as well as adults. Just as you might feel your child’s forehead to check for a fever, it is important to be attentive to your child’s mental health. Each year, many children are diagnosed with and treated for anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. This is normal, and not a reason for parents or children to feel shame.

The subject of mental health can be intimidating or downright scary. It can be hard to know when or how to start the conversation. Here are some suggestions for starting to talk with your child about mental wellness.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Asking questions is important, as children often don’t have the words or perspective to bring up complex and painful emotions. Indeed, talking about complex emotional experiences is difficult for adults.

As a parent or guardian, asking questions about your child’s thoughts and feelings can open the door to conversations about wellbeing that your child didn’t know how to access.

When you ask questions, it is important to stay calm so that your child can focus on expressing himself rather than worrying about what you are thinking or feeling. Maintain an interested rather than interrogative demeanor. Even if you feel afraid of what your child shares with you, avoid panicking and catastrophizing. Follow up with open questions such as: “Do you know why you might be feeling this way?”, or “Can you tell me more about that?”

Try talking with your child and reach out to a pediatric mental healthcare provider if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of interest in things they previously enjoyed
  • Trouble focusing on a given task
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Acting out
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Lack of appetite
  • Self-harm

Lead with Your Experiences

By sharing your own experience with your child, you help remove the stigma of seeking help for mental health concerns. Lead by example. Talking about your own experience with feelings of sadness, worry, trauma, and social challenges will demonstrate to your child that these topics are not taboo — your child is safe to share feelings and concerns with you.

You may be afraid to share these experiences with your child. That is normal. You want your child to see you as strong and brave. Ironically, by sharing about times when you experienced anxiety or depression, you are modeling the strength and bravery of vulnerability. Your child will feel more comfortable sharing with you when you model openness and comfort discussing mental health as a normal part of being human.

As you share your experiences, be truthful but age-appropriate in your disclosures. Focus on describing the feelings rather than the details of your experience, as those may be age-inappropriate or triggering to your child or teen.

Practice Positive Behaviors

Practice positive and encouraging behaviors around the topics of mental wellness. Be mindful of the words you use when talking about mental health. Even when joking, avoid stigmatizing words such as “crazy,” “nuts,” or “psycho.”

Model good self-care. Not only will you feel better, but you will set an example for your child.

Be open about the habits, resources, and activities you use to support and maintain your own mental health.

Seek Support for Yourself

Parenting can be overwhelming, especially when your child is experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other illnesses. Consider finding a therapist for yourself. Wellness is a state that requires regular attention: you would not expect a vehicle to keep running without tune-ups and mental health is no different.

Creating a safe place for yourself to process your parenting concerns and challenges allows you the emotional capacity to support your child in her experience. Your mental health provider can offer perspective on how to can best support your child.

Having someone you trust will give you confidence as you care for your child’s mental wellbeing.

Mental Health Services in Butte County

Since opening our doors in 2008, Therapeutic Solutions has provided high-quality behavioral healthcare to people in Chico, Yuba City and surrounding communities. If you or a loved one is experiencing depression, anxiety, or any other behavioral health concern, we are here to help with a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

Call our center today at (530) 899-3150 for an assessment and more information about our behavioral health services.

Categories
Uncategorized

5 Ways to Support Your Mental Health

5 Simple ways to Support Your Mental Health & Wellness

millions of Americans have been asked to stay home in hopes of slowing the spread of Covid-19. In these unprecedented times of health and financial uncertainty, many people are experiencing feelings of anxiety and depression. Here are some things you can do to cope when you are feeling overwhelmed

1. Get Moving

While most people understand the physical benefits of staying active, it can also help to support your mental and emotional wellbeing. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), regular aerobic exercise has been shown to benefit your mental health in the following ways:

  • Decreases overall tension
  • Elevates and stabilizes mood
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Improves self-esteem

2. Try Journaling

When you find yourself experiencing distressing emotions like anxiety and depression, finding a way to release these feelings can provide you with some relief. When you have negative thoughts, getting them out on paper can be cathartic. Putting your thoughts and feelings into words can help you work through them.

3. Practice Deep-Breathing

When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, deep breathing can help by triggering your body’s natural relaxation response. According to the American Institute of Stress (AIS) the relaxation response helps to change the body’s physical and emotional responses to stress.

4. Get Better Quality Rest

There is a direct link between your sleep habits and your mental health as disrupted sleep patterns are often seen in many mental health issues. Not getting enough sleep can increase feelings of distress and vice versa. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it is recommended that adults over the age of 18 get an average of 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

If you find yourself having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, try some of these tips to help you get better quality sleep:

  • Make a sleep schedule and stick to it.
  • Make your bedroom an electronics-free zone.
  • Set boundaries around watching, listening to, or reading the news. Give yourself a couple of hours before bedtime without adding any potentially stressful information.
  • Keep your bedroom cool and dark.
  • Avoid taking long naps throughout the day, especially in the afternoon.
  • Get regular exercise, just not right before bed.
  • Limit alcohol and tobacco consumption.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as takingwarm shower or bath..

5. Seek Help

When you feel as though your mental health is suffering, admitting that you need help is not a sign of weakness. Seeking help is the first step toward wellness and recovery. Reach out to your support network or a mental health professional. You do not have to navigate your feelings and concerns alone

Mental Health Services in Butte County 

Since opening our doors in 2008, Therapeutic Solutions has provided high-quality behavioral healthcare to individuals in Butte County and surrounding communities. If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD, or any other behavioral health concern, we can help with a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

Call ustoday at (530) 899-3150 for an assessment and more information about our behavioral h

Categories
Uncategorized

Self Care Bulletin – May 8

MOTHER’S DAY IN THE TIME OF COVID – 19

Mother’s Day can be sensitive or downright painful for many people even under the best of circumstances. For some, the day is a reminder of loss, absence, or pain in a mother-child relationship. If Mother’s Day is a difficult day for you, you may find this article from Harvard Health to be helpful.

And even if Mother’s Day has been a relatively uncomplicated celebration for you in the past, this year is certain to present unique challenges.

If you’re a mother whose children are home more, the challenge might be figuring out how to nurture your own needs in quarantine. Here are a couple of tips:

Focus on self-compassion

Increased time with your children may have led to increased pressure to be “on” all the time and feeling burned out. Take some time to reflect on the things that you are doing well.

Your best is more than good enough.

Take Time for Something that Brings You Joy While meeting your basic needs for sleep or downtime may be at the top of your list, make sure to also schedule some time for a favorite hobby or a fun activity. Even 15-20 minutes will help!

Connect with Those Who “Mother” You Whether it’s your own mother or a mentor or a peer, schedule a time to connect with someone or (“someones”) who nurtures you.

Mothers need nurturing too!

SOME MOTHER’S DAY IDEAS FOR QUARANTINE

For those who are trying to figure out how to celebrate mothers, grandmothers, and mother-figures, while in quarantine: we’ve included some suggestions.

Organize a parade by her house. Bring homemade signs with words of appreciation, scatter flowers, and dress up if you’re brave.

Put together a playlist of songs you know she loves or songs that make you think about her.

Schedule a Zoom date with her and use that time to talk about meaningful things. Ask her questions about herself, but also consider sharing something meaningful about your own life and development.

TRY THIS:

NPR SPECIAL SERIES | MOTHER’S DAY

NPR has compiled a series of articles, short videos, tips, and stories to reflect on and celebrate mothers and those who “mother”.

Features include 6-Word tributes to mothers, Latin American music for Mother’s Day, tips on a DIY Mother’s Day, a tribute to “cool aunts”, and so much more.

Check it out! Click here

Categories
Uncategorized

Self Care Bulletin

GROUNDING TECHNIQUES FOR MANAGING ANXIETY

In these days of the COVID-19 outbreak, some waves of anxiety are easier to ride than others.

Grounding techniques are a way to pull yourself out of fears about the future or worries about the past and back into your body in the present moment.

Here are some grounding techniques to try when you are feeling overwhelmed.

Physical Grounding Techniques Use your senses & tangible objects around you to move through distress.

Box Breathing

Slowly inhale, counting to 4; hold breath for 4 seconds; slowly exhale, counting to 4; repeat.

(Learn more from Healthline.com)

5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Counting down from 5, use your senses to list things you notice around you. For example, 5 things you hear, then 4 things you see, then 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste.

Cognitive Grounding Techniques

Redirect your overwhelmed brain by distraction.

Coloring / drawing

You can color images online for free, such as this beautiful image of a Mandalafrom

ColoringBook.pics

Memory Game

Look at a photo or picture and focus on identifying 5 or 10 details, then turn it over and try to remember those details, recreating the picture in your imagination.

MINDFUL PAUSE FOR DIFFICULT TIMES

This meditation, published on Psychology

Today by clinical psychologist Dr. Beth Kurland, is a practice intended to cultivate resilience during this difficult time.

Based in the ancient Buddhist tradition of the loving kindness meditation, Dr. Kurland’s mindful pause is for people of any background or religious practice. She encourages adapting the words of the meditation for your personal preference.

During inhalation, the words of the meditation are focused inward, directing your attention and compassion toward your own emotions. While exhaling, the meditation extends that compassion and goodwill outward toward loved ones and community.

TRY THIS:

“THE HAPPINESS LAB” PODCAST

You might think more money, a better job, or Instagram-worthy vacations would make you happy. You’re dead wrong.

Yale professor Dr Laurie Santos will take you through the latest scientific research and share some surprising and inspiring stories that will forever alter the way you think about happiness.

Available for free on iTunes, Stitcher, & web streaming at

Categories
Uncategorized

Self Care Bulletin

“DOSING” ACTIVITIES FOR BETTER STRESS RELIEF

In the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak and response, many of us are experiencing increased fear and anxiety as well as feelings of isolation and loneliness. While short times of stress are not inherently harmful, the prolonged and/or unpredictable presence of stress can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health.

Now more than ever, it is important to regulate our baseline stress with activities that work from the “bottom up”, that is, at a physical, emotional level rather than a cognitive, “top down” level. Trying to calm ourselves with logic alone is not going to work during this time of uncertainty and prolonged stress.

Some examples of activities that regulate stress from the “bottom up” are: walking, playing music, coloring or doing an art/craft project, playing a video game, doing yoga, stretching, focusing on breathing.

These stress-regulating activities are far more effective when dosed out over the period of the day. For example, going for a 45-minute walk one time a day may only regulate your feelings of stress and anxiety for an hour or two. You’d be much better off to dose your walk into five minute intervals sprinkled throughout your day.

Another way to regulate stress is to limit your contact with social media, tv, and other sources of stressful news. Limit your exposure to the stressful things that are out of your control, and give yourself two news- free and social media-free hours before bedtime.

To learn more about how to reduce baseline anxiety for yourself and your family during the COVID-19 pandemic, listen to this interview with trauma specialist Dr. Bruce Perry.

 

LAUGHTER YOGA

You don’t need a medical degree to know that laughing feels good. But did you know that medical studies have shown that laughter works to decrease stress hormones, improve the immune system, and boost endorphins?

While cranking up that show that hits your funny bone might work great for you, it turns out that “fake” laughter works just as well to reduce stress.

To learn about Laughter Yoga, follow the link to a TedMed Talk from Laughter Yoga creator, Dr. Madan Kataria.

TRY THIS:

INTERVIEWS WITH DAVID KESSLER ON COVID-19 & COLLECTIVE GRIEF

David Kessler is one of the world’s foremost experts on grief. He is the co-creator of the well-known 5 Phases of Grief, to which he has added a 6th: Finding Meaning.

He is offering helpful perspective on the collective grief we are currently experiencing due to COVID-19. Check out one or all of these resources to learn more.

ARTICLE | HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW

That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief

PODCAST | TEN PERCENT HAPPIER

Why We’re All Grieving, & How To Deal with It”

WEBSITE | GRIEF.COM

grief.com/covid-19/

Categories
Uncategorized

How Complex Childhood Trauma Lingers into Adulthood

Many adults experience anxiety, depression, and relationship problems influenced by complex childhood trauma. It can be difficult for adults experiencing these mental health symptoms to understand the role played by wounds from childhood.

Trauma is complex. Sometimes it stems from specific incidents, such as combat trauma, abuse, or an accident. Childhood trauma is often overlooked as it may not be isolated to a single event and

Outcomes of these experiences can have lasting impact in a person’s life, including symptoms related to Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD).

Some childhood experiences that can lead to complex trauma include:

  • An unsafe or unpredictable home life
  • Exposure to domestic violence
  • Neglect or emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
  • Bullying or discrimination
  • Loss of a family member or close friend
  • Loss of a family member or friend to suicide
  • Alcohol or drug use in the home

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 1 in 7 children have experienced child abuse and/or neglect in the past year, and this is likely an underestimate as many cases go unreported.

Childhood trauma can disrupt development psychically, cognitively, and behaviorally

Childhood trauma impacts brain development, ultimately impacting behaviors later in life.

How an Adult with a Chaotic Childhood Can Move Forward

Developmental trauma often affects a person their whole lives. That’s why talk therapy and possibly psychotropic medication, such as antidepressants, can be useful in the effort to recovery and form a health self-identity. Addressing these complex concerns pays off, as recovery, grief, and growth take place. By working towards learning basic self-care, the individual may feel more comfortable and develop compassion and patience for themselves.

The good news is that the brain is capable of changing. The appropriate treatment to improve quality of life for a person who has C-PTSD are as varied as the individual experiences. Some treatment options include individual therapy, group therapy programs, pharmaceutical medications for depression and anxiety, or other interventions including Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, and Electroconvulsive Therapy.

Ready to start healing? Contact our team at Therapeutic Solutions to learn more about how we can help by dialing (530) 899-3150.

Categories
Uncategorized

Why So Many Military Veterans Abuse Drugs and Alcohol

Military veterans make personal sacrifices to protect their fellow Americans’ freedoms, and some encounter the most hostile, harshest places on earth in doing so. Veterans can face significant obstacles when readjusting to civilian life, and find difficulty coping with traumatic memories they suffered from their time in combat or watching unspeakable events take place. Many develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which comes from the emotional scars they suffered from their experiences in war.

While anyone can suffer from PTSD from a tragic or unsettling event that changes their lives, the rates of PTSD are much higher in veterans. For instance, civilians experience PTSD at about a level of 8%, compared to as much as 20% in veterans from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that 1 in every 10 veterans is diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder, higher than the rate of the general population.

Factors Contributing to Veteran Substance Abuse

Veterans are more likely to develop an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol because of the following issues prevalent in their population:

  • Pain: Two-thirds of veterans report experiencing pain, and more than 90%have severe pain, compared to 6.4% of non-veterans. This puts veterans at a much higher risk of opioid prescription abuse. In recent years, fatal opioid overdoses among veterans, including overdoses of heroin and synthetic opioids not taken for pain relief, has increased from 14% in 2010 to 21% in 2016.
  • Suicide risk: Veterans comprise about 20% of all suicides in the United States, many involving alcohol or drug use. Those who take opioid painkillers are more than twice as likely to commit suicide compared to those receiving lower doses.
  • Trauma: Veterans with substance abuse disorders are 3 to 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with PTSD or depression. As many as half of Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans have a mental illness, and these conditions are strongly correlated with addiction.
  • Homelessness: About 11% of homeless adults in the United States are veterans, and a 2014 study found that 70% of homeless veterans also had a substance abuse disorder. Because they are homeless, they face challenges and barriers to getting the treatment they need.

How Psychotherapy Can Help Veterans Adjust to Substance-Free Civilian Life

Sadly, relatively few veterans get the counseling they need to treat their substance abuse disorder. Issues compounding their ability to get effective treatment include gaps in insurance coverage, fear of stigma and other negative consequences, and concerns about a lack of confidentiality.

Individualized treatment and approved medication-assisted therapy can help veterans find peace and cope with the stresses of life without turning to drugs. Effective interventions focus on identifying and modifying unhealthy coping mechanisms and finding new ones. The military’s Tricare health system has expanded its treatment services, and offers coverage for intensive outpatient programs.

Learn more about how we can help. Contact Therapeutic Solutions by dialing (530) 899-3150 or reach out online for a quick reply.

Categories
Uncategorized

The Connection Between Exercise & Happiness

Exercise Improves More Than Just Physique

The benefits of regular physical activity are well-documented, and include improved sleep, improved overall mood, strengthened immune system and of course, improved physique. Studies have found that physically active people are less apt to develop depression or anxiety than those who are sedentary. Even though as exercise increases the effects increase, even a small amount of physical activity can boost your mood and increase happiness.

Ideas to Get Moving

Our team of Chico behavioral and mental health professionals at Therapeutic Solutions have put together some easy exercise ideas to help motivate you to take charge of your happiness. The first step may be the hardest, but you won’t regret it. Small changes to your routine lead to lasting habits. Here are some exercises that you can enjoy:

  • Yoga: With stability boosting movements, little-to-no equipment and the ease of doing it in your own home, yoga is a great option for a happiness-boosting exercise. It’s low impact and there are levels of practice from beginner to master. The stretching and opening poses can help to release trauma, especially in the hips or abdominal area, where past traumas are typically stored. Many poses in yoga create an emotional and spiritual release in addition to its physical benefits.
  • Walking or cycling: Whether on a treadmill or outside in the fresh air, the simplicity of walking or cycling makes it an easy starter exercise. It increases heart rate, produces feel good endorphins and if you’re outside, helps you take in Vitamin D. Walking somewhat briskly for at least thirty minutes each day is recommended, but starting with short walks is a great way to build up to greater distances.
  • Swimming: This is a great option for people who have joint problems, because there is no stress on the joints while in the water. It burns calories while increasing cardiovascular endurance, boosts endorphin production and creates a peaceful mood. If you need to find a quiet zone to work through your thoughts, the silence of the water is perfect, and the repetitive movements may help you sort through your emotions mindfully.
  • Dancing: Whether at home in your pajamas or out on the town, dancing is a great way to work up a sweat while having some fun. Adding in a social element and laughter to this can enhance connections and release tension.

How Does Exercise Help?

The happiness boosting effects of physical activity may seem simple, but they are not. There are specific benefits from different aspects of activity and specific ways in which it can impact mood. If you are dealing with symptoms of depression and anxiety, exercise can help.

  • Exercise releases mood-boosting chemicals: Endorphins, Serotonin, Dopamine and Testosterone are all released during and after physical activity and all improve mood, enhance self-esteem and increase pleasure.
  • Exercise reduces stress: Counteract cortisol and adrenaline through physical activity (two chemicals in the body related to stress) and the feelings of stress will be reduced. The muscle stiffness, tension in your back and upset stomach related to stress may also be relieved, allowing you to enjoy your day and feel calmer.
  • Exercise improves sleep: The quality of your sleep, a key factor in feeling happy overall, can be improved by exercise. Keep in mind that exercise may be best completed in the early part of the day if you have trouble sleeping, as it improves quality of sleep, but it may be energizing, as well. Experiment to see what works best for you.

In addition, exercise has been proven to boost the immune system, induce a state of playfulness, increase metabolism, improve brain function and support self-confidence. With so many emotional, mental and physical benefits, it pays to give exercise a chance. Developing healthy coping strategies and prioritizing your health are key to getting well, staying well, and being well.

When You Need Something More, We Are Here

If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or substance use, exercise may not be the single ingredient that you need. Fighting an addiction or battling depression may require more than self-help, and we are here for when you need extra support. Our Chico mental health professionals can provide the therapy, intensive care and structure that is needed when a hill seems too steep to climb alone. Whether you need a substance use program or a form of comprehensive behavioral therapy, we can create a program that works for you. Let us walk with you as you find your way back to happiness.

Contact our team to discuss how we can help at (530) 899-3150.

Categories
Uncategorized

5 Ways to Boost Your Teen’s Emotional Resilience

Help Your Teen Bounce Back After Difficult Times

Resilience is necessary in all stages of life, but the earlier we learn it, the healthier we will grow over time. Helping your child to learn about resilience and progress towards practicing resilience more automatically is a task that parents often struggle with. This is, in part, due to the fact that we may not have learned those skills in childhood either. However, as a parent you have the power to foster healthy coping mechanisms in your kid as you are practicing them yourself.

The team of Chico mental health professionals at Therapeutic Solutions complied a list of five ways to boost your teen’s emotional resilience, to provide guidance when so many parents are trying to do it all on their own. If your teen is struggling, and you fear that they may be turning to substances or other unhealthy coping mechanisms, we offer adolescent behavioral health treatment that can help.

Building Resilience: You Can Help

Resilience requires self-respect, social skills, positive thinking habits and positive self-talk. Helping your child to learn these skills and acquire the self-awareness that they will need as they grow up is no easy feat. Below are 5 ways to boost your teen’s emotional resilience so that they can better cope when they have difficult times.

  1. Teach problem solving: Encourage your teen to problem solve and come to conclusions on his or her own, avoiding jumping in to fix things every time there is a problem. Encourage your teen to come up with a list of ideas or pros and cons to solve an issue, then discuss it with her/him. Ask questions that will help them come to a solution rather than giving immediate advice. When you are not present to offer immediate guidance, they will have a set of tools to rely on for themselves. What’s more: This encourages healthy dialogue and connection between you and your child, so they know they can share their concerns with you.
  2. Promote healthy risk taking: Do activities with your children that push them out of their comfort zone, such as encouraging them to try a new sport, volunteer for an event, befriend someone new or try a new activity such as learning an instrument. These things will help your child learn that they can handle challenges. It is important to balance your kid’s innate interests with new possibilities, so be sure to honor their current strengths and competencies even as you are introducing new opportunities for growth.
  3. Create a strong connection: Allow your child to communicate openly with you and to express emotions freely, even when they are not pleasant. Provide a safe space to talk things through so that they can release the feelings instead of holding them in. Plan for one-on-one time with your teen and leave all distractions, including smart phones, aside. When you express interest in the things that matter to your child, even things that seem mundane, they will feel safer to consult with you about the challenges and stressors they face.
  4. Allow for mistakes: Everyone makes mistakes, so allow your child to feel the sting of a mistake, or the punishment, but do not let it be the end of the world. Embrace the lessons and the chance to support your child through what might be a painful recovery, then help them to see that success is learning from failures. Once they have had a chance to process their emotions, support them in making a plan to respond to their mistakes. This affirms that they have the internal resources to address difficult experiences in their life head-on.
  5. Exercise: While expressing emotions verbally can be helpful, not all problems are solved by talking. Physical activity, be it team sports or anything that increases heart rate, helps to release chemicals in the brain that boost mood, confidence and resilience! Physical accomplishments are the building blocks that help support mental and emotional ones. If your child has an outlet to rely on when things get hard, especially something that promotes physical well-being, they can turn to this activity to decompress and regain balance.

We Understand and Our Team Can Help: (530) 899-3150

If your teen is struggling with negative self-talk, low self esteem or difficulty bouncing back from tough situations, it can be worrisome for parents. Our team of Chico mental health professionals understand how trying the teen years can be, and how challenging they are to navigate in the midst of mental health struggles. Our Adolescent Program is designed support you and your teen with positive, healthy techniques for dealing with teen life. It’s okay to ask for help, and your child’s future is worth it.

Contact our team to discuss your concerns about your teen today at (530) 899-3150.

Categories
Uncategorized

5 Keys to a Healthy Relationship

Compatibility is Only the Beginning

A healthy relationship is one in which both partners want and put effort toward a long-lasting connection. Regardless of your interests, background or past relationships, the biggest factor in relationship health and longevity is how much each partner is willing to work to protect and nurture the relationship. There are guidelines that have been proven to be effective in maintaining a healthy dynamic between partners. The strategies below can help you and your partner make sure that your relationship is strong, safe, and stable.

5 Keys to a Healthy Relationship

  1. Create Moments of Connection: Pay attention to your partner in public, at events, and at home. When you catch your partner’s glance from across the room, this is connection. If your partner reaches out to you, that moment of physical touch is a connection. Noticing and reciprocating emotional cues of connection is one way to foster a deeper, happier relationship, but sometimes we miss the small opportunities to tune in. Focus on these small moments in your relationship and notice how gratitude and affection builds.
  2. Eliminate the Four Horsemen from your relationship: The renowned research of Dr. John Gottman illustrates that The Four Horseman are significant predictors to the end of a relationship, and things that should be eliminated from your interactions with your loved one wherever possible. They are: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness and Stonewalling. If you can identify and eliminate these behaviors and replace them with healthy and respectful behaviors, you are on the road to a healthy relationship. However, the more these qualities persist and replace positive interactions, the less likely the relationship will be successful.
  3. Understand that all relationships have conflict: Productively managing conflict is the key to maintaining healthy communication in your relationship. Compromise, agreeing to have differences of opinion but being respectful of that fact, and learning when to let your emotions cool off are three great starts to conflict management. The presence of conflict does not mean that a relationship is unhealthy. How we respond to that conflict is what makes or breaks a connection. Additionally, much of the conflict the recurs in relationships is not “solvable” in the traditional sense of the word, making conflict management strategies an even more important for long-lasting love.
  4. Never stop dating: No matter how new your relationship, intentional time with your partner has proven benefits. If you set aside time to date your partner, and truly put in effort to make quality time a priority, your partnership will thrive. If you set dating aside and focus all your energy on kids, chores, work, etc., your connection will suffer. You must nurture a long-term partnership like you would a relationship with a new love interest. While this may look different over time, scheduling opportunities for connection is key.
  5. Honor each other’s interests: When we have goals and dreams outside of our relationships, we feel a stronger sense of self-confidence that can benefit the partnership. Ask questions, be supportive, and express interest in your partner’s passions. Whether they want to learn a new language, enjoy fitness, or dream about starting their own business, engaging with them around the things they care about is important. That does not mean sacrificing your own goals, doing things you don’t want to do, or throwing all caution to the wind. Rather, the mutual focus should be on nurturing goals, helping each other find ways to reach them, and honoring the activities your partner enjoys (even if you don’t participate in them). This will show that you believe in your partner and care about what they care about, which goes a long way in fostering love and trust in one another.

Are you interested in starting on the path to a healthier partnership? Share these science-backed strategies with your partner or spouse, and identify ways that you can build a stronger, safer, and more fulfilling bond.

Know When to Seek Help

Your relationship with your loved one may be strong in all the right areas, but addiction or mental health struggles may rock that solid foundation to the core. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, depression, or anxiety, you may need outside help from supportive professionals. At Therapeutic Solutions, we have the tools and the experienced Chico mental health professionals needed to help you achieve wellness. Additionally, we offer a couples or family session during treatment to explore We can provide you with the stability that will allow you to get back to loving life and engaging in relationships wholeheartedly.

Contact our team at (530) 899-3150.