Mental Health, Productivity, Tools and Skills

Finding Light in the Winter

Tis the season for dark afternoons and blustery weekends. Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or just find it hard to stay motivated through the winter. Here are some tips to find the light in what can be a dark couple of months-literally! 

Get up and Move
Exercise releases endorphins and Dopamine which increase feelings of happiness and lower fatigue. It can be difficult to keep your activity levels up once the cold weather hits. Here are some tips to get moving in the winter months:   

– Find an indoor activity like swimming, going to the gym, or rock climbing to replace summer outdoor exercise.
– Build in exercise around or after dusk to combat the early sunset.
– Bundle up and take a walk outside for some fresh air.


Practice Gratitude
Practicing gratitude can inspire positive thoughts, strengthen relationships, and improve mood.Here are a few ways to incorporate gratitude into your life

– Note one good thing that happens each day, mentally or on paper.
– Write letters of appreciation to friends to let them know you value them.
– Keep a daily gratitude journal to record things you are thankful for each day.


Find Community 
Winter months can lead to isolation and loneliness. Finding social support can help improve mood. Here are some ways to stay social in the winter:

– Find an online community to engage in without having to face the cold.
– Meet up for warm treats like coffee or soup to warm the soul while you catch up.
– Plan phone or video hangouts when the weather makes it hard to plan outside activities. 


Soak up the sun
Find ways to increase exposure to natural or artificial light in order to regulate your circadian rhythm. Here are some adaptations to make to your winter routine:

– Buy a “happy” or white light to help keep your circadian rhythm on schedule. 
– Wake up earlier to get more sunlight in your day. 
– Keep lights on later in the evening or open the blinds to let all the light in that you can. 


Get support
Making adaptations to decrease SAD symptoms can be difficult. A therapist can lead you through the process in a personalized way. One-on-one therapy or group sessions are a great way to manage mood symptoms through the winter. 

Looking for support this season?

Eunoia Mental Health helps people increase self-confidence, decrease anxiety, and meet their goals. If you’re ready to get some extra support, contact me at 734-489-1528 for a free phone consultation or learn more here!

Making Therapy Work, Mental Health

Are you feeling SAD?

It’s that time of year again. Leaves are falling, temperatures are dropping, and daylight hours are dwindling. For some, this also means a decrease in mood. 

What is SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that increases with seasonal changes. SAD symptoms typically start in the fall or winter months, although it is possible for SAD to onset in spring or summer months. SAD is different from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) because MDD symptoms are not dependent on the time of year. 

Am I SAD?

The following are common symptoms of SAD:

  • Low mood
  • Changes in sleep
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling worthless
  • Negative thoughts 
  • Increased appetite 
  • Loss of energy or motivation

What’s Next?

A therapist can help you determine whether or not you meet criteria for Seasonal Affective Disorder. More importantly, a therapist can help you manage your symptoms! When looking for a therapist to treat SAD, look for someone who specializes in mood disorders like depression. If you notice thoughts of suicide, please visit an emergency room or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).

Looking for support this season?

Eunoia Mental Health helps people increase self confidence, decrease anxiety, and meet their goals. If you’re ready to get some extra support, contact me at 734-489-1528 for a free phone consultation or learn more here!

Making Therapy Work

Therapist Red Flags (and green ones!)

Finding a therapist can be a long, frustrating process. Once you find a provider who takes your insurance or has matching availability, the thought of finding someone else can be paralyzing. While it might be hard to find the right fit, it is worth it. The relationship you have with your therapist can make or break your progress. Here are some general things to avoid and look out for when selecting a therapist.

Therapist Red Flags

You may want to start the search if a therapist…

  1. Makes you uncomfortable
    It is natural to be uncomfortable sharing intimate lief details with a stranger. However, your therapist should make it clear to you that your sessions are a safe space. If you find you remain uncomfortable sharing after a few sessions, it may be something to think about. Sometimes discomfort can be worked through, sometimes it warrants a different provider.

  2. Responds to you with judgement or criticism
    A good therapist will help you challenge your irrational fears or negative thoughts. What shouldn’t be challenged is the fact that you are feeling pain. If your therapist seems to judge what you do or say, there may be a lack of understanding or bias at play. Remember, therapy can be challenging without feeling judgemental.

  3. Lacks understanding about you or your identity
    A therapist should have cultural competency. This means that they may not have the same lived experience or background as you, but they should be able to empathize and have basic knowledge about your culture/identity (or admit that they don’t and do some research!). If you feel that a majority of time is spent explaining things about your culture or identity instead of getting support, you may need a better informed therapist.

  4. Offers little support or guidance
    Many people leave their therapist because it feels as if they are talking to a friend and not a professional. Talking alone can promote healing, but if you’re leaving session wanting more it’s important to communicate that. Try asking your therapist what their treatment plan is or what skills they can teach you.

  5. Makes inappropriate self-disclosures or comments
    Therapy is your time (and money!). There is a time and a place for small talk and self-disclosure in session, but it shouldn’t make you uncomfortable. Therapy doesn’t have to be overly formal to be effective, but your therapist should keep a level of professionalism in sessions.

  6. Doesn’t take feedback or won’t answer questions
    Part of the therapeutic process is finding things that don’t work. If your therapist insists on a modality or treatment that isn’t working for you, it’s important to tell them. If your therapist isn’t able to pivot when you need them to, it may be a bad fit. Additionally, your therapist should always be able to answer your questions about why they think something may work. Therapy should be open and done with informed consent.

Remember: Just because it’s not a good fit doesn’t mean you can’t be helped, or even that the therapist is bad at their job. It takes two to tango!


Therapist Green Flags

Some signs you found a good fit are when a therapist…

  1. Asks for feedback
    Asking for feedback or concerns is a sign that a therapist sees therapy as a collaborative process. A therapist should also check to make sure you understand what they’re telling you and offer space for your questions.

  2. Shows cultural competence
    Your therapist might not know everything about your culture, identity, religion, etc., but they should be able to understand on a basic level. You may have to explain how those factors impact you personally, but you shouldn’t have to answer an onslaught of basic questions. Your therapist has Google!
  3. Allows you to set the agenda
    Your therapist most likely knows what they think would be helpful to talk about, but it’s important that they check in with you. Sometimes things come up that are more urgent! A therapist should be able to flex with you and meet you where you need to be met.

  4. Makes you feel comfortable
    This is where the therapist magic comes in. Maybe it’s the active listening or the low, soft voice- or the fact that they can talk about your favorite video games. Whatever it is, pay attention to how comfortable you feel in session. If things seem to flow naturally, you’ve got a good thing going on!

  5. Validates your feelings
    Therapists are here to support you. While the gentle challenge is sometimes appropriate, it can be done without invalidating your experience or emotions. Look for signs that your therapist is comfortable speaking about hard things and can support you while helping you grow.

  6. Asks inclusive questions
    A green flag that can be seen right away is what kind of questions your therapist asks. If you’re looking for a gender-inclusive therapist, look for pronouns and preferred name questions. If you’re looking for faith-based therapy, look for questions about your religion. If your therapist is asking questions you want to answer, you’re probably in good hands.


    Remember: your green or red flags may look entirely different from someone else’s. Learn more about finding the right therapist here!

Are we a good fit?

Eunoia Mental Health helps people increase self confidence, decrease anxiety, and meet their goals. If you’re ready to get some extra support, contact me at 734-489-1528 for a free phone consultation or learn more here!

Making Therapy Work

How Therapy Can Help You Heal from an Abusive Relationship

Leaving an unhealthy relationship is an act of bravery and self-compassion. It’s also incredibly difficult and taxing on your mental health. A therapist may be able to provide additional support in the following ways:

Connecting to Resources

Therapists are professional resource gatherers. If your abusive relationship left you financially vulnerable, your therapist can help connect you to resources like Medicaid, housing, food assistance, and other financial programs. They can also help you find a medical provider if you need one. A therapist may be more keyed into local domestic violence groups or shelters. Having someone search with you or for you can alleviate some of the stress of rebuilding your life.

Improving Self-esteem

Perpetrators of relationship violence often put their victims down. You may have been told that nobody else would want you or that the violence was your fault. Even if you’re aware this is false, it can have a lasting effect on your self-esteem. Once you have left the relationship, there are often feelings of guilt or shame around your experience. A therapist can help you shed those negative self feelings and gain your confidence back.  

Setting Boundaries

After leaving an abusive partner, you may find yourself unsure of how to navigate future relationships. Knowing your boundaries and being able to stick to them is an important skill in finding a healthy relationship. These boundaries can be physical, financial, and/or emotional.  A therapist can help you establish what you need from a supportive partner and teach you skills to communicate this to others. 

Finding community 

A therapy practice may run groups for survivors of domestic violence or relationship abuse. This can be a great place to meet people who have been in similar situations and learn from their stories. In groups, a therapist often facilitates discussion or teaches skills to those in the group. Group also gives you an opportunity to share your story and provide support to others. 

Healing trauma

It is common for people who have been in an unhealthy relationship to carry trauma or show symptoms of PTSD. A therapist can provide a safe space for you to express your emotions and heal from past trauma. Depending on what you need, this may look like talking about the abuse, planning ways to lessen triggers, or using advanced processing techniques. Your therapist can help you process your past in a safe, trusting environment. 

Finding the right therapist is important to establish trust and make sure you are able to get what you need out of therapy. If you are currently in an abusive relationship, there are resources available to you. A good place to start is the domestic violence hotline at 800.799.SAFE (7233).

Ready for Support?

Eunoia Mental Health helps people increase self confidence, decrease anxiety, and meet their goals. If you’re ready to find healing after your unhealthy relationship, contact me at for a free phone consultation or learn more here!

Anxiety, Tools and Skills

Decrease Your Back to School Anxiety

It feels unreal, but it is time for school again! Even if you are looking forward to classes and dorm life, you may be feeling a bit nervous. Here are some ways to feel more comfortable getting back to the swing of things. 

Get Back on Schedule

Adjusting your schedule preemptively is one of the most helpful things you can do to ease into a new routine. Start waking up when you’ll need to for school and go to bed in time to get enough sleep to complete your day. Start eating meals that you can make at school and eat during times that you’ll have breaks between classes. Go through the motions of your school schedule at home and it will be an easier adjustment once you’re on campus. 

Create Social Structure

Create or rekindle relationships before school to avoid those awkward “how was your summer?” conversations. If you are returning to campus, start connecting a few weeks beforehand. Make plans to meet up with familiar faces to decrease anxiety around making new friends. If this is your first year or you’re looking to broaden your social circle, scout out new groups or activities you’d like to participate in. Learn all you can beforehand to decrease the worry of the unknown.  

Prepare Your Mind

Hopefully, your summer was full of lounging around and doing a whole lot of nothing. While rest is important, you may be worried about the transition from the couch to the classroom. To reassure yourself that you’re prepared, start doing activities that engage your mind like reading. Set concrete goals for the upcoming school year around your academic performance and personal growth. This will help you focus on making progress and decrease general anxiety. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, take a break to clear your mind through meditation or deep breathing. 

Find Support 

Going off to school brings feelings of independence and self-reliance, but you’re not alone in your journey. Take advantage of school resources like counseling or accommodations. Make sure to identify and utilize the people who can support you at school and back home. If you need a confidential, professional source of support, find a therapist who can help you navigate the intricate challenges of college life. Finding a telehealth provider makes it more likely that you can see your therapist while you’re at school and when you go back home to visit.

Looking for Support?

Eunoia Mental Health helps people increase self confidence, decrease anxiety, and meet your goals. If you’re ready to find some support before school starts, contact me at for a free phone consultation or learn more here!

Productivity, Tools and Skills

How to Stay Motivated

The first step to getting motivated is setting clear, attainable goals (start here for that!). Once you get going you have to keep going!. Follow these tips to stay motivated throughout your journey. 

  1. Check-in with yourself 

Set a clear timeline for your goal, including check-ins to measure progress. Ask yourself at these time points what is going well and what needs to be adjusted in your plan. Check-in with your emotions, too. Are you feeling bored? Burnt out? Discouraged? Tweak your plan to build in more exciting tasks, take a break if you need it, or seek additional support. 

  1. Reward your hard work

A reward? Before the task is done? Yes! Simple rewards along the way for making progress or getting past a slump will encourage you to keep going. Take a relaxing trip, treat yourself to dinner, or buy that bag you’ve been looking at online! Whatever the reward, the most important part is to make sure you understand the reason for it- your hard work. 

  1. Share your dreams

There are many ways that sharing your goals with others can help you. Sometimes, just saying your goals out loud to someone else makes them more real. Anticipating others checking in on you about your project can motivate you to have an update for them. Additionally, trusted friends or family can support you through tough times of setbacks or disappointments. Sharing your successes with others makes them all the more impactful. 

Looking to Get Motivated?

Therapy can help you set clear goals and reach them. Eunoia Mental Health helps people reach their potential by providing long-lasting coping skills and non-judgemental support. Learn more or schedule a free phone consultation today!

Productivity, Tools and Skills

How to get Motivated: Setting SMART Goals

Struggling to meet your goals? The problem might not be you, it may be the goal itself! SMART goal setting is a strategy to make sure you have an accurate idea of what you want to achieve and what you need to be successful. Read on to learn more about setting SMART goals. 

Setting SMART Goals

You are setting a smart goal if you can name ways it is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. 

Specific:

If your goal is too broad or ill-defined, how will you know where to start? When thinking about this section, ask yourself:

  • What is my goal?
  • Who do I need to involve?
  • What supplies do I need to start?

Measurable:

Being able to measure progress as we go helps us say motivated. Ask yourself:

  • How will I know when I’ve met my goal?
  • How will I measure my progress?
  • How will I reward my progress along the way?

Attainable:

You need to make sure your goal is within your control and is challenging, but also possible. Ask yourself:

  • How will this challenge me?
  • What skills do I have that will help me achieve this?
  • How will I seek support from others?

Relevant:

There is no use putting effort into something that doesn’t align with your values or long-term goals. Ask yourself:

  • How will this meet my current needs?
  • How will this help me meet my long-term goals?
  • Why is this important to me?

Timely:

Good things take time, but specific goals have a timeline. Ask yourself:

  • When do I need to start?
  • When do I want to be finished?
  • What will I do if I fall behind schedule?

Using the SMART goal template may help you feel more organized and confident in meeting your goals. Try it for yourself! 

Looking to Get Motivated?

Therapy can help you set clear goals and reach them. Eunoia Mental Health helps people reach their potential by providing long-lasting coping skills and non-judgemental support. Learn more or schedule a free phone consultation today!

Productivity, Tools and Skills

How to Get Motivated: Understanding Motivation

Despite having a wide variety of clients, one thing I hear over and over is: “I’d like to be more motivated”. This may seem like an easily addressed issue, but it is actually quite complex. The good news? You can increase your motivation and productivity with some help and hard work. Before you start setting your goals, it’s helpful to understand where motivation comes from.  

The Science Behind Motivation

So, how do we get going? Motivation starts in the brain. Dopamine, the “feel good” neurotransmitter has been tied to motivation. In one study, rats with lower levels of dopamine were less likely to climb up to a larger pile of food than rats with a higher dopamine level. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be as simple as just raising Dopamine levels. Further studies indicate that it’s not just about overall dopamine level, but having Dopamine in the right parts of the brain like the prefrontal cortex (Patel, 2015). There are other neurotransmitters that contribute to motivation. Cortisol is produced when we feel threatened and helps us take action to alleviate this stress. Testosterone contributes to a competitive drive that may increase our willingness to perform (Souders, 2020). 

Can We Control Motivation?

In order to have motivation, we need a motive! As humans, we have an instinctive motive to stay alive and reproduce to maintain our species. This internal motive gives us the energy to do tasks that work towards those goals. For example, we are naturally driven to eat, quench thirst, and be social. 

We’re not just motivated to survive, we’re also motivated to succeed, compete with others, and find happiness. Research suggests that by tapping into these natural motives, we can set ourselves up for greater success (Souders, 2020).  For example, thinking about completing a task at work as leading to a promotion with more money, happiness, and flexibility can make you more motivated than thinking of the task as something you are being forced to do. 

Chicken, Meet Egg. 

One of the hardest truths about motivation is that it often comes after we start a task. A common trap that people fall into is waiting around for motivation in order to start a task. Starting the task may feel like going uphill, but eventually, you’ll get some traction (and those sweet, sweet brain chemicals) which will lead to motivation. 

Ways to get started when the motivation isn’t there yet:

  1. Hold yourself accountable by telling others about your goal, including when you need to start.
  2. Find a reward that’s worth the effort.
  3. Use a mantra: “Do what you need to do now so you can do what you want to later”, “I got this”, “My therapist told me this would work”. 

Looking to Get Motivated?

Therapy can help you set clear goals and reach them. Eunoia Mental Health helps people reach their potential by providing long-lasting coping skills and non-judgemental support. Learn more or schedule a free phone consultation today!

Identity, LGBTQIA+

Pride Never Ends!

Enjoying Pride month? Here are some ways to show pride all year long .

Know Your History

Origins

Pride has origins in protest and activism. The first Pride celebration was in response to police violence against queer people. Since then, many Pride events have faced threatened or actual violence.

For more, search: Stonewall Riots, Cooper Do-nuts, Compton’s Cafeteria

Heroes

Since the very beginning, Pride events have been organized and led by people of color, particularly Black Americans. BIPOC continue to be at the forefront of Queer advocacy.

For more, search: Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Alice Nkom

Policy

Members in the queer community have been systematically oppressed. Only in recent history has there been legislation passed granting queer people the same rights as cis/straight Americans.

For more, search: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, AIDS Epidemic, DOMA

Live With Pride

Community

Seek out local or online communities where you can fully express yourself and lean on others for support. Join an LGBTQIA+ group on your campus, volunteer at a local advocacy group, or find your new favorite gay bar.

For more, search: CeterLink, City Queer Exchange Facebook groups, LGBTQ groups near me

Media

Fill your feed with representation. Follow accounts that highlight the beauty of the queer experience. Have a queer movie night or listen to music that makes you feel seen.

For more, search: #QueerCreators, #QueerJoy, #ItGetsBetter

Identity

Express yourself as much as you safely can. Buy clothes that bring gender euphoria. Tell those you trust your pronouns. Try out that new makeup look. If needed, get support to feel comfortable in your identity.

For more, search: Coming Out, Gender Euphoria, Pronouns

Fight for the Future

Educate

Be a source of knowledge for others exploring their identity. If you’re comfortable, share your experience with new members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Educate yourself on queer issues you’re not familiar with.

For more, search: PFLAG, Queer Subreddits, Them.us

Donate

If you’re willing and able, give to projects working towards LGBTQIA+ liberation. Support members of the community who need monetary donations. Contribute to. queer-focused bail funds.

For more, search: Free2Luv, TrevorProject, LGBTQ Freedom Fund

Advocate

Right now, there are current and proposed policies that restrict LGBTQIA+ rights. Stand up and speak out against bills banning trans youth in sports, bans on gay adoption, and the continuation of conversion therapy.

For more, search: ACLU, HRC, GLAAD

Sources:

https://www.them.us/story/the-complete-history-of-pride

https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2017/06/6-pride-events-went-face-violent-threats/

https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/26/us/marsha-p-johnson-biography/index.html

https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/lgbtq-pride-activists-advocates-johnson-milk/

https://www.pride.com/identities/2020/5/13/5-places-meet-lgbtq-friends-online

Identity, LGBTQIA+, Tools and Skills

Communicating Your Pronouns

Pronouns often signal gender identity. When our correct pronouns are used, it can make us feel more comfortable and validated in our identity. Your pronouns should be used correctly and treated with respect. Read on for tips on communicating your pronouns.

For more information on using pronouns correctly, visit www.mypronouns.org

Looking for an LGBTQIA+ Inclusive Therapist?

I founded Eunoia Mental Health because I believe everyone deserves inclusive, effective care. I am grateful to serve those of all gender and sexual identities. Schedule a free consultation today!

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