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Piper Walsh, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist
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Therapy for Children, Adolescents, Adults in South Orange County

How to Deal with Holiday Depression: 5 Tips from a Counselor

Published by . Filed under Anxiety & Stress, Depression, Orange County Counseling. Total of no comments in the discussion.

The holiday season is supposed to be about slowing down and spending time with family and friends. However, the holidays can be a difficult time for many people, particularly those who are dealing with mental health concerns or have gone through a significant life transition, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or illness. Working with a qualified counselor can help you learn how to deal with holiday depression and focus on self-care.

Understanding Holiday Depression

Holidays can feel overwhelming if you’re still grieving or dealing with mental illness. You might feel like you’re drowning in a never-ending cycle of get-togethers, tight deadlines, and the financial stress of buying gifts. All that stress around the holidays can exacerbate your emotional discomfort.

Coping with Holiday Depression: 5 Strategies to Survive the Holidays

Going to psychotherapy or counseling might help you better understand your feelings, develop helpful self-care strategies, and learn how to deal with holiday depression and anxiety.

Holiday Depression vs. Holiday Blues: Understanding the Difference

Depression counseling can help you recognize your symptoms so that you can receive appropriate treatment tailored to your needs. Your counselor can help you discern between holiday blues and more serious mental health conditions.

If you have holiday blues, this condition is often temporary and resolves as the holiday season ends. Your sadness, fatigue, and distress may be uncomfortable, but they are typically mild and don’t significantly impair your everyday life.

However, if you experience anxiety disorders, seasonal affective disorder, or major depressive disorder, your symptoms may be more intense and persistent. You might struggle with constant feelings of hopelessness, sadness, severe anxiety, and changes in sleep and appetite. These feelings may worsen during the holidays, significantly harming your ability to function in your everyday life. If this is the case, seeking help from a mental health professional is essential.

In addition to depression counseling, you may want to try the following self-care strategies for coping with holiday depression and anxiety:

1.    Practice Mindfulness

Focus on the present moment and be fully present in each experience, whether wrapping presents, having a morning cup of tea, or practicing mindful breathing. Mindfulness can help reduce holiday stress and boost your mood by keeping you focused on the present without judgment.

2.    Start New Traditions

If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, old holiday traditions may trigger sadness. Try creating new ones, as they may provide a distraction and something to look forward to.

3.    Set Boundaries

Say no to requests, gatherings, or activities that make you feel overwhelmed or stressed. Also, limit social media use, as it can exacerbate loneliness and sadness. Setting boundaries saves your energy, reduces stress, and allows you to engage in things that promote self-care.

4.    Stay Connected

Reach out to family and friends. Keeping in touch with family and friends, even if it’s just through phone calls or online chat, can help you deal with holiday depression and feel less alone.

5.    Engage in Creative Expression

Find a creative outlet, like writing, drawing, or making holiday ornaments. Creative expression can be therapeutic as it offers a constructive way to express your thoughts and feelings.

Body Image Issues in Teens & 4 Ways to Tackle Them

Published by . Filed under Adolescents, Orange County Counseling. Total of no comments in the discussion.

Adolescence can be a challenging life stage for both young people and their families. Body image issues in teens is a common topic in adolescent and family counseling.

Teenagers go through a number of changes that have a significant impact on how they perceive their bodies. Furthermore, social pressure to look a certain way can be stressful if your child looks different from the ideal person they want to be. And in today’s world of idealized media images of perfection, it can be difficult for a young person to cultivate self-love and acceptance.

With all of these unrealistic messages, it’s no wonder that more and more adolescents are having problems with how they see their bodies.

Body Image and Related Mental Health Concerns

Is your teen preoccupied with perceived flaws in their appearance, even if they are minor or nonexistent in reality? Are they concerned that others will perceive their flaws as abnormal, even if they do not? Do they always think and talk about their real or imagined imperfections? Are their eating habits impaired?

Body dissatisfaction is closely linked to body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and eating disorders (EDs). Studies show that having a negative body image is the most direct cause of developing an eating disorder. Poor body image is a significant risk factor for obsessive preoccupation with one’s body and restrictive dieting, leading to severe eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia nervosa.

In addition, body image issues in teens are closely related to low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.

Adolescent counseling can be a safe place for your teenager to identify and challenge their negative thoughts, address related mental health concerns, improve confidence, and develop a healthier self-image.

Additionally, there are the following four ways to tackle body image issues in teens:

1.    Set Social Media Boundaries

Talk to your teenager about social media and the editing tools people use when posting pictures to make them look more beautiful. Encourage them to unfollow people who make them feel uncomfortable. Help your child understand how certain content is perfected on social media and teach them to evaluate media critically.

2.    Model Self-Love and Self-Acceptance

Always act as a positive role model for your child. For example, emphasize the importance of focusing on oneself as a complete individual and never making negative comments about your body in front of them. Focus on all the positive things your body can do: be active daily, choose healthy foods for yourself and your family, and keep a healthy weight.

3.    Encourage Individuality

Teach your child to love and appreciate their bodies, no matter their shape or size. Encourage them to resist the pressure to look the same as their friends or celebrities, and help them understand that they are beautiful even if they don’t fit the currently popular ideals.

4.    Foster Positive Lifestyle Choices

Teach your child that taking good care of their body can make them feel better. Promote self-care and encourage your teen to eat nutritious food, exercise regularly, and get regular sleep.

Body Image Issues in Teens: How Can Adolescent Counseling Help?

A qualified counselor can help you and your adolescent understand where body image issues come from and how they affect your child’s life, build resilience, and grow self-esteem.

Adolescent counseling can assist teenagers in challenging and changing their distorted thoughts and beliefs about their appearance. Additionally, therapy can assist in identifying and addressing any underlying issues that may be contributing to harmful behaviors. It can help them develop strategies to reduce these behaviors and adopt healthier coping mechanisms.

4 Attachment Styles: How Early Attachment Shapes Your Adult Relationships

Published by . Filed under Individual Counseling, Orange County Counseling, Relationships. Total of no comments in the discussion.

It is widely accepted that the quality of early attachment shapes our capacity to create and maintain meaningful connections in adulthood. If you struggle in adult relationships, the underlying causes of your problems can be traced back to attachment styles in your early relationships with parents or caregivers.

Attachment Styles: Bowlby’s Attachment Theory

The attachment style is something a person learns and carries into adulthood, affecting how they interact with others.

Bowlby’s attachment theory, one of the first theories of social development, holds that a child’s early relationships with parents or caregivers are crucial to their development.

Based on Bowlby’s attachment theory, the following four attachment types may be recognized:

  • Anxious-preoccupied attachment
  • Avoidant-dismissive attachment
  • Disorganized attachment
  • Secure attachment

When a child has a warm and responsive relationship with their caregivers, it helps them feel safe and protected, setting the stage for a secure attachment. People from families with secure attachments can nurture closeness, manage conflicts, and be self-reliant in adult relationships.

On the other hand, if someone grew up in a family with confusing, inconsistent, or frightening dynamics and had a caregiver who didn’t respond to their needs, they’re more likely to develop an anxious, avoidant, or disorganized attachment style.

Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment

If your early relationships were marked by anxious attachment, you might believe deep down that you don’t deserve love. Deep-seated shame and self-limiting beliefs you adopted as a child might manifest in your adult relationships.

For instance, you may fear getting emotionally close to others and being intimate so you don’t end up abandoned again.

Also, if you grew up with anxious attachment, you may have difficulty setting and respecting boundaries, needing constant reassurance and validation from others, and always looking for anything that could harm your relationships.

Avoidant-Dismissive Attachment

People with an avoidant-dismissive attachment style often grew up in a non-caring or non-supportive household with strict parents who discouraged emotional expression.

As an adult, you may struggle to trust others and avoid getting too emotionally close to people to avoid becoming too dependent on them. Because of that, you may mainly engage in short, casual relationships.

Disorganized Attachment

If you were abused as a child or never knew how your caregivers would treat you since they were both a source of comfort and anxiety, your attachment style may be disorganized.

Not knowing what to expect usually results in confusion, insecurity, and anxiety. As a grown-up, you may behave similarly to your parents or caregivers, lacking stable and healthy strategies to seek comfort and deal with stress. You may alternate between being attentive and acting emotionally distant, thoughtless, or aggressive.

Secure Attachment

A secure attachment is a healthy connection in which a child feels safe and reassured by a parent or caregiver.

Secure attachment in adult relationships means that you can nurture closeness while maintaining your independence.

You set healthy boundaries, respect others’ limits, embrace vulnerability, accept responsibility for your actions, and know when to say “no” to protect your well-being.

Secure attachment in adult relationships promotes self-esteem, trust, and personal growth. Relationship counseling can provide a safe environment for you to understand your attachment style and how it affects your adult relationships. A qualified relationship counselor may also assist you in breaking away from insecure attachment styles and learning how to develop meaningful long-term relationships.

Is there an Epidemic of Male Loneliness?

Published by . Filed under Men's Issues, Orange County Counseling, Therapy for Men. Total of no comments in the discussion.

Are you a high-functioning, successful professional struggling to strike a healthy work-life balance? Are you passionate about your job, yet you work long hours and feel guilty about not spending enough time with your family? Do you feel like a failure because you’re struggling to juggle your partner’s, children’s, and own needs while also focusing on your career? Such experiences can be profoundly isolating, so it’s not surprising that male loneliness is reaching epidemic proportions.

However, misconceptions and stigma around male mental health may be preventing you from getting help. Most men wait until their mental health problems become unbearable before getting treatment. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Men’s counseling offers a private and confidential environment where you can address your problems, get to their roots, and develop effective strategies for managing stress. Through this process, you can regain control of your life and feel whole again.

Male Loneliness Epidemic: Why Do Men Feel Lonelier Than Ever?

According to recent studies, Millennials (aged 23–28) are the loneliest generation. Approximately 30% of Millennials indicated they are always or frequently lonely, while 27% said they have no close friends.

The Challenges of Modern Life

Many men who seek therapy feel that everyday demands are wearing them down so much that they feel emotionally depleted and empty, having nothing to give to those they care about. Many men face challenges when they reach a point where they no longer find their work meaningful. They feel stuck but lack the courage or motivation to make a career change that could positively impact their lives. Some men feel like they’ve lost their sense of self by becoming stay-at-home dads. But then, at the same time, they feel guilty about having this identity crisis.

Some are divorced and fear that if they fail in their marriage, they will also fail as fathers. Many men drink excessively to cope with pressures and responsibilities, feeling like they’re nowhere a priority. They think they don’t receive enough validation and recognition at home and work. Many male clients admit to having or considering having an affair, feeling guilty, confused, profoundly lonely, and isolated. For many of them, it feels like nobody really cares.

Male Stereotypes

Men in Western countries are frequently raised to be goal-oriented, bold, and independent from a young age, so many are afraid of seeming weak or vulnerable. They may have no close friends to confide in and hesitate to reach out to people and form meaningful connections. As a result of these masculine stereotypes, their well-being and relationships may suffer, leaving them feeling lonely and isolated.

How to Navigate Male Loneliness: The Transformative Power of Men’s Counseling

It can be difficult to deal with loneliness and vulnerability in a world that expects you to be strong, to be a provider and a protector. So, men can deeply benefit from having a safe and non-judgmental space where they can open up and work through feelings of anxiety, despair, isolation, and emotional mayhem.

A skilled men’s counselor can help you explore your emotions, identify strong support systems, and learn how to handle challenges more efficiently. Through the process of counseling, you may gain the courage to explore your vulnerability and open up about your feelings. This can lead to healthier relationships, personal growth, and lasting emotional well-being.