3362 Big Pine Trail, Suite A, Champaign, Illinois 61822

The changing seasons affect your family much more than you may realize. Shorter days, less daylight, and dreary weather impact physical and mental wellbeing. Simple changes in the way you manage your meals, home interior and daily activities will make this winter a healthier, more comfortable, and happier time for the entire family. 

Here are three very effective, low-cost ways to help your family beat the blahs, stay healthy and feel better this winter. Addressing both physical and emotional health, these simple and inexpensive ideas are powerful because they directly focus on the reasons winter can harm your family. 

Why Winter Is a Tough Time

Cold, dreary weather is tough on your body and mind. It's important to protect your family's physical health during winter because colder, wet weather and exposure can weaken your body's immune response.  Winter is also a time with more flu and cold germs around.  

Shorter days, less light, and gloomy weather; all ingredients in the recipe for the blahs. There's less spring in everyone's step, fewer smiling faces, and a general sense of just, blah! The scientific name for winter blahs is Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD. Symptoms include loss of appetite, general sadness, poor sleep, and tiredness. Some people experience feeling anxious or irritable. If you see these warning signs in yourself or family members, there are simple solutions available. 

Here are three effective tools for keeping your family healthy and free of the blues this winter. This year, fight the blahs with powerful technology, good nutritional resources, and activities to lift spirits and create cheer. Here's how to start.

Use Food, Fun, and Cheerful 

From ages past to today, wise mothers know that proper nutrition is a powerful weapon in the battle against winter ills and the blahs. Cold germs and viruses replicate easier cold weather, so maintaining a healthy immune system is key. Good lighting, wonderful food, and healthy activity elevate the mood and promote the release of endorphins.  

One: Celebrate Fresh

Make the most of seasonal winter vegetables and fruits. Keep fresh fruit on the table and add cut-up fruit and fresh vegetables to lunchboxes and the dinner table. Balanced nutrition, including healthy seasonal veggies, does not have to be boring. You have a wide range of tasty soups, stews, and casserole recipes waiting just a mouse click away. Get creative, maybe even engage the kids to help in preparing the food. You can ensure that meal time is healthy and memorable without spending hours in the kitchen.  

Two: Make Dinnertime a Special Event

Nearly everyone loves chili. Make it extra tasty and healthy by adding finely chopped carrots, diced bell pepper to the mix. They add extra nutrients while hiding nicely in the dish. Turn the meal into a fiesta by surrounding the pot of chili with tasty melted cheese made with small corn tortillas, nachos, and black bean refritos.  

This kind of meal is very flexible, so use your imagination. Find interesting new recipes to try. There are many chicken, turkey, and vegetarian alternatives, and hearty stew and soup recipes packed with healthy nutrition. The key factor is making dinner time interesting and fun and healthy.  

Your crock pot and instant pot cooker will be great time savers, here. Try different themes for different days. Have a build your own sub sandwich bar loaded with healthy breads, meats, sliced veggies, and cheese. Meatloaf is another great place to put some hidden nutrition and is a good option for working with your fussy eaters.  Just use your imagination; the entire family will benefit. 

Three: Fight the Blahs with Activity

Giving people something to look forward to is a great way to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder. Exercise, activities, and fun go a long way towards lifting the spirits. Family nights, light exercise and just trying to stay stimulated will go a long way towards beating the blahs. 

Get outside. Unless the weather is brutal, getting out is mood lifting even on cloudy days. Physical activity stimulates your body to release endorphins. These natural chemicals elevate mood and lessen sensitivity to pain. Exercise also stimulates the mind as you watch your surroundings during a walk.  

If the weather is too bad for a hike, visit a museum for a stroll or have fun at home with games like toss across or active gaming with dance or bowling with your Wii. Games of any kind are good for lifting spirits and getting the kids engaged. Lively games like Risk or Monopoly encourage critical thinking and strategy skills. Again, the point is being engaged to create healthy good feelings to overcome seasonal depressed feelings. 

Four: Fight the Gloom with Technology

Less daylight during the winter months is a problem. Battle the blahs with low-cost technology this year. Something as simple as changing the ‌light bulbs you use can have a big impact on your family's health and wellbeing. Here are two effective options to consider. 

White natural light from the sun enhances mood and provides a host of health benefits. Natural light combats seasonal depression, stimulates vitamin D production and promotes healthy sleep.  

If your windows don't let in enough natural sunlight, try installing daylight LED bulbs. Look for them in any local big box or hardware store for between $5 to $10. Another option is placing daylight simulating light therapy lamps around the house for greater impact. It's a good option but can be more expensive. Look for these lamps online and on Amazon. Prices range  from around $40 to $150.  

Seasonal depression is something you can do something about. This year, face it with a little ingenuity, wonderful food, and active family fun for smiles all round.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anxiety is a common emotion, and most of the time you're anxious for a specific reason. When you're fearful, your heart rate speeds up, your blood pressure rises, and your heart beats faster. But sometimes anxiety is an almost everyday occurrence. You may wake up apprehensive and fretful in the morning, or it might come on later in the day with no apparent reason why. If these episodes are persistent, this can be a sign of an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are classified into different types. So, it's not enough to say you have an anxiety disorder. The type you have can make a difference for treatment. Let's look at the five types of anxiety disorders that psychiatrists and psychologists recognize.

Panic Disorder

One of the most common types of anxiety disorder is called panic disorder. People who have this form of anxiety experience symptoms of anxiety that often come on suddenly and out of the blue. The symptoms can be physical in nature, like a rapid heart rate, palpitations, difficulty taking a deep breath, lightheadedness, dizziness, and sweating. Some people also experience psychological symptoms like feelings of unreality and fear that they'll collapse on the floor unless they get help. It's not uncommon for people with panic disorder to think they're having a heart attack. In fact, emergency rooms frequently see people with panic symptoms that resemble a heart attack.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is another form of anxiety. The obsessive component of OCD refers to the tendency to have repeated unwanted thoughts that cause anxiety. For example, some people with obsessive-compulsive disorder become fixated on germs and being exposed to them, or may develop an obsession with not stepping on cracks on the sidewalk.

The compulsive component refers to the behaviors they do to keep their anxiety under control. For example, the person with an obsession with germs might wash their hands repeatedly and focus obsessively on staying clean. An individual obsessed with not stepping on cracks in the sidewalk will keep their attention focused on the ground so they can avoid them. People with this form of anxiety channel their fear and worries to specific objects or behaviors and behave compulsively to keep that anxiety in check.

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is sometimes referred to as a social phobia. People with social anxiety experience extreme fear, worry, and anxiety when they're in a social situation. Before a social event, they may experience extreme worry and distress because they fear they'll do something stupid or people won't like them. Social anxiety can be focused, for example, a fear of parties in particular, or more generalized, fearing any type of social function.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is triggered by a traumatic event. The person with PTSD can't mentally overcome or let go of the trauma they experienced and may relive the events in their mind. At times, something in their environment can trigger a memory and they develop extreme anxiety. Examples of events that can cause post-traumatic stress disorder include weather disasters, being a victim of violence, fighting in a war, or being involved in an accident. For a psychiatrist to make this diagnosis, the symptoms need to be present for at least one month. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder is the most common form of chronic anxiety. If anxiety is long-standing and doesn't fit into one of the categories above, it's usually generalized anxiety disorder. People with this condition feel anxious much of the time and usually can't identify a specific trigger for their anxiety. They tend to worry chronically and without a specific trigger. Health care professionals usually diagnose generalized anxiety disorder if symptoms are present for at least six months. There is a genetic component to generalized anxiety disorder, as it's more common in certain families, and women are more prone to it than men. In fact, generalized anxiety is twice as common in females.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, chronic anxiety isn't a single disorder. It can be of various types, but only a psychiatrist is trained to make a diagnosis. Fortunately, there are therapies that can help, including cognitive and behavioral therapy by a licensed psychologist. However, there are strategies people can do at home like deep, controlled breathing exercises, meditation, self-hypnosis, mindfulness, and guided imagery.

References:

Medscape. "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder"

HHS.gov. "What are the five major types of anxiety disorders?"

National Institute of Mental Health. "Anxiety Disorders"

 

5 Ways to Deal With an Insecure Partner

 

 Dealing with an insecure partner can be exhausting, especially if they require constant attention and excessive reassurance. Learning to deal with your partner's insecurity effectively is the key to maintaining your relationship and preventing emotional exhaustion. Here are five ways to deal with an insecure partner.

1. Identify the Real Problem

Insecurity is often a sign of low self-esteem, but there may be other problems, fears or worries that are causing your partner to feel insecure. For example, they may have been abandoned or cheated on by previous partners and are worried that the same could happen again. Encourage your partner to talk openly so that you can work together to identify the real problem. 

2. Offer Support

Ask your partner what support they need in order to feel more secure. Short-term problems, such as difficulties adapting to life changes, can cause temporary insecurity that can sometimes be resolved by offering support and reassurance. However, deep-rooted emotional problems, such as fear of rejection or abandonment, may require professional help.

3. Spend Quality Time Together

Spending quality time together is important for any relationship, but it's even more important when one partner is feeling insecure, as it reminds both partners of why they are together. Make time for your partner, even if it's just to eat a meal or watch a movie together. If you live together, try to spend some time away from your home or usual environment.

4. Create Healthy Boundaries

Reassuring and supporting an insecure partner is often draining and can take its toll on your health, so it's important to take care of your own emotional well-being and to spend some time away from your partner. You also need to remember that you can't fix your partner's issues and, sometimes, the best way to help is by taking a step back and allowing your partner to find their own solutions. Set healthy boundaries and ensure that your partner understands that you need some time for yourself.

5. Beware of Manipulation 

People with deep-rooted insecurities sometimes develop unhealthy ways to deal with their feelings. This often manifests as emotional blackmail or manipulation tactics. For example, if your partner feels insecure about your friendships with other people, they may feign illness or cause an argument to prevent you from spending time with friends. Your partner may not be consciously aware that they are using emotional blackmail or other manipulative strategies, so you will need to approach the subject carefully.

Dealing with an insecure partner can be difficult, but there are ways to improve your relationship and prevent problems in the future. Identifying the real problem, offering support, spending quality time together, creating healthy boundaries and being aware of manipulation will all help to improve the long-term outlook for your relationship. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When a good friend's unhappy, you want to offer them a shoulder to cry on and listen to their troubles. Later, though, you may imagine it's time for them to stop grieving over what ails them and cheer up. You do your best to be upbeat and think you help them. Your good intentions, however, won't make your friend better. Being overly positive may make them feel misunderstood and lonely. It's more constructive to validate their feelings rather than gloss over difficult emotions. These tips show you how.

Uncover emotions

Everyone heals from painful experiences in their own time. Your friend will grieve for as long as is necessary, no matter whether you think they should move on. If you suspect they are stuck in a rut, repeatedly reliving difficulties, you may be right. However, trying to steer them off troubling topics and encouraging them to be positive isn't helpful.

If your pal takes a long time to recover from a painful event, show support. Recognize the emotions you can pick out from the stories they tell. People often seem stuck like the needle of a record, replaying old problems because they don't know how to voice their feelings and find validation.

Telltale signs of quashed feelings include recounts of troubles involving resentment and anger. Resentment builds when people don't feel heard or understood. Often, emotional angst is released when someone who cares recognizes the pain hidden in the retelling of problems and gives it a voice.

Releasing pain

If you think you have uncovered emotions hidden in your friend's tales, ask if you are right. When you correctly voice their pain, repressed feelings will flow as though a floodgate's opened. Once the pain finds an outlet, there will no longer be a need to mull over hurtful memories.

You offer validation to your friend when you accept what they say. Seek emotional content rather than facts from their tales. Resentment often covers the pain beneath angry words and repetitive stories that need an outlet.

Ask if you are right about the information you uncover too. It gives your friend the chance to clarify their feelings and know they are heard. Your loving support will help them heal from old wounds and clamber out of their rut.

 

About Insight Therapy

Insight Therapy is a professional mental health private practice located in Champaign - Urbana. Insight Therapy offers individual therapy, couples counseling, family counseling, and professional mediation services to clients of all ages and issues.

Contact Information

Insight Therapy, LLC
3362 Big Pine Trail
Suite A
Champaign, Illinois 61822

Phone: (217) 383-0151
Fax: (217) 633-4555

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Practice Areas

Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Addiction, Couples Counseling, Eating Disorders, Sexual Abuse Survivor, School Anxiety, Women's Issues, Relationship Issues, BiPolar Disorder, Personality Disorders, Family Issues, Couples Counseling, Mediation, and more!