Roy Faget

Anxiety Under Control: 6 Ways to Calm Down Quickly

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By Roy Faget, MA

Anxiety abounds in a world filled with 24-hour news cycles, hectic schedules, social expectations, and our own state of personal ups and downs.

You don’t have to expect to just muddle through with worry and stress as your constant companions. You can get your anxiety under control and live the free and productive life you long for. But how?

The idea is to keep anxiety reserved for real danger and to feel more in control when worry and fear creep up. You can develop the power to rein in your thoughts and restore calm quickly and effectively. These tips for getting anxiety under control can help you relax:

1. Make Self-care Happen

This one is non-negotiable.  A lack of sleep, poor diet, and a sedentary lifestyle can have a huge impact on your mental health. To feel less pushed around by anxiety, improve your sense of balance and self-control with the basics:

  • A regular sleep routine. Take a nap if you need it!

  • Healthy eating and hydration habits

  • Daily movement, exercise, and enjoyable activities

  • Repeat an uplifting mantra throughout the day

Self-care is the cornerstone for your overall health. Don’t put your personal needs aside. You matter!

2. Address your Stress

Stress and uncertainty are a part of life. Some of us can roll with life as it comes. Some of us need a bit of help managing the roller coaster ride. There’s no shame in building in some daily techniques to reduce the strain on your mind and body. Practice one or more of the following to ease anxiety on a regular basis:

  • Meditation

  • Tai Chi, Yoga, or deep stretching

  • Deep breathing exercises

  • Journaling

  • Calming visualization

3. Reduce Mental Input and Pay Attention

In other words, step away from the beeps and buzzes alerting you to your technology. Let the emails and voicemails wait. Turn off the newsfeeds and background noise. 

Do your best to get quiet and notice what’s happening within you. 

  • What thoughts are recurring?

  • How is your body responding?

  • What feels soothing or distracts you from the worry?

Anxiety counts on your inability, or unwillingness, to slow things down. It counts on racing thoughts and reaction. Choose to be deliberate and thoughtful about what you allow to affect you and how you respond. Remind yourself that you are in charge of you. Stay present and intentional.

4. Put Your Thoughts to the Test

Be tough on your racing thoughts. Get real with the critic in your head.

  • Will the wedding toast really be “totally humiliating?”

  • Does your partner truly have one foot out the door?

  • Does your boss really think you are the worst employee on his team?

Challenge the thoughts you allow to derail your peace and participation in life. Regret and fears don’t have to rule you if you can learn to recognize unhelpful rumination and push through it. Calm down quickly by logically rejecting what isn’t true about you and others.

Ask a few of these questions to reduce anxiety:

  • Are my worries realistic or likely to occur?

  • Is the worst-case scenario, really so bad? 

  • How might I manage my imagined catastrophe?

  • What do I think being unprepared or incapable of handling bad things says about me? Is this true?

Think things through. Let yourself process, challenge, and put to rest unproductive thinking.

5. Get Busy: Goals, Generosity, and Gratitude are a Great Start

Some clichés are based on reality. It’s true that when we focus on the suffering of others, we find peace and calm. There may be nothing more centering than kindness.

 Life is much more than a list of worries, possible problems, or unwanted uncertainties. What if you weren’t upset so often? How would you live if you were worry-free? Who would you reach out to if you felt sure and confident? Those are the things that give life meaning and direction.

To get out of your head and restore calm, you must act more and obsess less.

Make a point of doing what matters to you, giving your time and energy to others who are in need. Actively look for things and people to be grateful for.

6. Accept What Is and Embrace Your Place in the Present Moment

You may have been frightened, freaked out, overwrought, even panicked. Okay. Tell yourself the truth about that (without judgment) and allow it to be the former state of things. Realize too, that all you must deal with right now is to calm down quickly. 

And, what’s happening right now? You are reading this blog, seeking help, and exercising a moment of freedom and choice to overcome anxiety. Congratulations! Reaching out for help by talking to trusted friends or a counseling professional is a brave first step toward reducing excessive worry and anxiety.


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 Roy Faget, MA, LPC Intern, LMFT Associate, works at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin with both couples and individuals who are experiencing anxious thoughts, feelings, and anxiety-provoking life circumstances. For support in combating worry in your life or your partner’s life, give Roy a call by dialing (512) 270-4883, ext. 109, or request an appointment online through the RCC Austin Scheduling page.

How to Cope with Family Estrangement

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By Roy Faget, MA

Some of us enjoyed highly functional family lives. Others of us have to face hard facts about our family’s dysfunction. Stepping firmly away from key members or an entire group of family members is sometimes the best way to protect yourself from hurtful or damaging connections. In fact, for some of us, family estrangement is the best way to limit the interactions that cause pain and promote chaos in our lives.

However healthy and prudent, separating from family is difficult. We expect that our family bonds are perpetual, unbreakable relationships. There is, at least, some comfort in that. So, the decision to separate yourself from family may be fraught with periods of self-doubt, loneliness, deep sadness, and grief. In addition, you may endure some pushback, judgment, criticism, or disapproval from loved ones and outsiders who disagree with such separation.

Still, you may find that certain family relationships often deserve the dignity of distance for the sake of peace and progress.

The fact is, our families are a fundamental part of who we are as individuals. How we interact, think of ourselves in the world, and how we view our worth and potential is inextricably tied to how well (or how unwell) our families are. When abuse, neglect, disrespect and more become relationship norms, the ill-effects can be devastating. If you’ve chosen family estrangement, it is important to acknowledge that creating distance may be painful, but you can maximize the amount of healing you experience as a result. How?

The truth is family estrangement is marked by feelings of uncertainty and insecurity. Without the usual, built-in bonds and ties that kept life predictable and connected, you’ll have to find ways to cope productively.

Let’s explore 5 Ways to Cope Well with Family Estrangement:

1. First, tap into compassion for the family member you’re stepping away from.

You needn’t harbor ill-will or carry around a load of negative thoughts regarding this person. Consider that their behavior toward you indicates mental, emotional, or relationship problems or patterns that make a relationship with you unproductive or unsafe. That’s okay. They may simply be incapable. Allow and accept that your family member, or members, may not yet have the tools to maintain a loving relationship with you right now.

2. Next, release the guilt.

Be careful to listen to your self-talk and intentionally tone down your inner critic. Your decision to cut ties doesn’t signal that you don’t love or respect your family. Quite the opposite is true. Your choice to be estranged simply relieves you both of roles and beliefs about the connection that aren’t working or aren’t true anymore. 

3. If physical or emotional safety is an issue, take the necessary precautions.

Is your estrangement the result of abuse, controlling behavior, or threats?  It is important to incorporate safety measures so that you can cope well and move forward without fear of your family member, or fear of retaliation for cutting ties. In order to help this cause, limit the information you share with other family members. Consider removing or reducing social media connections and any listed contact information they might use to force unwanted interactions. Allow your decision for family estrangement to be a positive step toward self-preservation and taking control of your life and needs.

4. Set clear guidelines for those relationships you retain.

If you are not estranged from your entire family network, navigating around those with whom you’ve severed ties can be tricky and stressful. Be sure you are upfront and clear with loved ones about your desire to keep your distance from the other person. Though they may balk, be firm about your decision and let them know that you will spend time with them separately or via special arrangement.

5. Finally, deal with your pain.

Facing the anxiety, hurt, anger and pain of the relationship is crucial. Seek out tools and guidance that will help you use the estrangement as a time to recover. Family estrangement, despite the losses, provides space and time to cope through sharing and healing. Use the estrangement as a time to reflect, journal, work with a counselor, and work on yourself. Explore the ways your family has shaped your perspective. Challenge the assumptions you’ve made about yourself, your family, and your potential relationships.

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Roy Faget, MA, LPC Intern, LMFT Associate, works with couples, individuals, and families at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. If you are facing family estrangement or dysfunction and need guidance on the healthiest way to navigate through, Roy can help. You can call Roy to schedule an appointment at (512) 270-4883, ext. 109, or you can request an appointment with him online through the RCC Austin Scheduling page.

 

5 Strategies for Establishing Strong Emotional Bonds

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By Roy Faget, MA

We all dream of being close to the ones we love. But what exactly is an emotional bond? And what can we do to establish healthy emotional bonds or connections? Furthermore, how can you decrease the chances of disconnection and detachment with the important people in your life?

David D. Burns, author of Feeling Good, describes an emotionally bonded relationship like this:

When two people respect each other, the ability to be vulnerable and to reveal hurt feelings can create a powerful emotional connection that is the source of real intimacy and friendship.”

Essentially, to be emotionally bonded means that you feel securely attached or connected to another person you know cares for you.

We have an innate need for that sort of bond with our parents or primary caregiver when we are young. Yet, our need to bond to other adults is clear too. We need friendship. We need emotional and physical intimacy. The need to belong to a community, even if that group is just a few safe people, is vital to our mental health and optimal self-image.

How You Can Establish Strong Emotional Bonds

For healthy, mutually satisfying relationships, consider the following tips for bonding well:

1. Study and Learn

Pay attention to your friend, loved one, or romantic partner. Listen and reflect your interest in the other person’s passions, goals, and concerns. Be curious and engage often to further demonstrate how much you value knowing and hearing from them.

2. Develop Trust

No healthy emotional bond exists without trust. This aspect of your bond takes time and must not be broken. It cannot be forced and should evolve naturally. Be gentle with each other and value maintaining trust and trustworthiness.

3. Deal with Relationship Obstacles

Every relationship has limits and barriers. Emotional bonds are built when you face and deconstruct the walls between you and the other person. Do your best, to be honest with each other. Work through your pasts, your beliefs, your values, and your assumptions. The process of tackling the things coming between you shows that you respect each other and your connection.

This allows for consistent vulnerability. Without it, you keep yourself from being hurt, but you also keep key parts of your emotional self separate and unknown. The desire to communicate care and concern for the sake of establishing harmony is a significant way of cementing a connection.

4. Resolve Conflicts Well

Unresolved conflict can wear away at established and evolving bonds. Be sure that you value your relationship above your disagreements. Keep past grievances in the past by staying in the moment and on topic. Let logic and cooler heads prevail. When your friend or loved one sees that the relationship can weather emotional storms, the bond grows more secure.

5. Employ Compassion and Empathy

Work hard at putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Consider their point of view and the “whys” behind the things they say and do. Be curious and mindful about their responses to life situations and avoid jumping to conclusions or making judgments.

Be a gentle and understanding observer.  Imagine what it must be like to live their life and do your best to keep these things in mind as your relationship progresses. Relationships deepen when both people feel considered and understood.

Are You Emotionally Available? 

Perhaps you realize that you need help developing emotional bonds, or that your bonds with important others are not as strong as you would like. Not to worry! Many people grapple with relationship disconnection. If you find yourself struggling to connect in a deeper and more meaningful way, talk to trusted friends and family, or contact a counseling professional who can help you discover insights and develop the emotional tools you need to move toward your relationship goals.

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Roy Faget, MA, LPC Intern, LMFT Associate, works with individuals, couples, teens, and families at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. If you have been experiencing disconnection in your relationships and are looking to form deeper emotional bonds, Roy can help. Schedule an appointment by calling him at (512) 270-4883, ext. 109, or request an appointment online through the RCC Austin Scheduling page.

 

The Daily Struggle with Traumatic Memories - EMDR Therapy Can Give You Relief

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By Roy Faget, MA

When you scrape your knee, you clean the wound and maybe add ointments and bandages to help it heal.

But, what if that wound appeared to be healed on the surface, but underneath it was still painful and caused discomfort?

Could the problem be what you can’t see? Perhaps some leftover debris, irritating the wound further despite your efforts on the surface? 

Traumatic memories can work in the same manner. When we come to therapy seeking help for anxiety, depression, addiction, or other issues, we are asking for a way to heal a painful wound without knowing where the source of the problem actually lies.

Many therapists turn to Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy) as an effective treatment plan for their clients.

What Is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR Therapy has become widely accepted and practiced by mental health professionals worldwide.

Healing from the source is the goal of EMDR Therapy. With that in mind, the treatment utilizes an eight-step process to reorient cognitive attachments of trauma to more positive and empowering ones.

A summary of these steps includes:

1. History and Treatment Planning

Clients begin with an intake process that identifies their history of trauma. From that, the therapist creates an individualized treatment plan.

2. Preparation

Typically, the following sessions will work in preparing the patient emotionally for the reprocessing and desensitization process.

3. Assessment

During the assessment step, the therapist works with the patient to identify traumatic memories and reconstruct the scene. The therapist then asks the patient to identify negative self-beliefs associated with that scene and what positive self-beliefs they would want to have associated with that memory.

4. Desensitization

Next, in desensitization, the therapist uses rapid eye movement or other bi-lateral stimulation method to measure subjective disturbance around the memory, while the patient walks through the traumatic experience. The goal is to lower subjective disturbance for the client.

5. Installation

Installation is a step in which the therapist introduces positive associations and beliefs of self-worth to the patient. These beliefs replace the negative associations previously held.

6. Body Scan

The therapist will ask the patient to notice where, physically, they feel any leftover tension in their body. This is because EMDR Therapy suggests that we hold residual trauma in our physical body.

7. Closure

To ensure the patient leaves the session feeling better than when they arrived, the therapist walks the patient back to a calm state, using relaxation techniques. This step is vital for patients who did not fully resolve the traumatic memory during the session.

8. Reevaluation

At the beginning of each new session, the therapist will check in on the results of the previous treatment and adjust the treatment for the session, if needed.

Is EMDR Right for You?

EMDR is a proven treatment option for several conditions such as post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, addiction, depression, anxiety, and other conditions. Specifically, EMDR Therapy provides you with tools and positive thinking to gain power over your traumatic memories.

Some of these tools include:

  • EMDR Therapy helps us to understand the source of our struggles

Sometimes, we can feel as though we are maneuvering through life with blinders on. Untreated trauma keeps us from seeing the entire picture. EMDR asks clients to navigate back to the source, or negative belief that started it all. This process helps remove the blinders so that we can better understand where our behavior patterns come from.

  • EMDR Therapy aids us to form healthier associations

It works to reorient our way of thinking and processing negative events from our past. Often, over time, these events have produced self-destructive beliefs. During treatment, patients gain healthier attachments to painful, traumatic memories that can boost their sense of worth and positive behavior.

  • EMDR Therapy provides a foundation to build upon

Reassociating trauma with positive attachments often brings with it a steady set of core beliefs that you can take with you for the rest of your life’s journey. These beliefs help you to feel grounded and prevent you from once again taking part in negative self-beliefs and unhealthy behavior patterns.

Talk with your provider to see if EMDR is right for you. With patience and consistency, EMDR Therapy can be the treatment plan to finally heal your wounds and end your daily struggle.
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Roy Faget, MA, LPC Intern, LMFT Associate, is an EMDR-trained therapist at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin who works with clients to help heal traumatic memories. To schedule an appointment with Roy, contact him at (512) 270-4883, ext. 109, or request him on the RCC Austin Scheduling page.

Marriage and Friendship: 4 Keys to Knowing Each Other Intimately

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By Roy Faget, MA

The one person that you should know best in life is your spouse. In fact, research shows that knowing your partner well and maintaining a deep and trusting friendship, is foundational to your relationship happiness. Marriage and friendship are closely linked.

Your spouse is your life-partner and the friend whom you can turn to at the times you need them the most.

Marriage, of course, is a lifelong journey. That means that the process of learning about your partner never ends as you grow together through the years.

No matter where you are in your marriage—whether it’s year 1 or 51!—there is always the chance to more intimately know one another.

Consider these four key ways to accomplish just that.

1. Spend Time Together

There is absolutely no substitute for spending time with each other. When you are first married, you spend a lot of time together as a couple. As time goes on it’s easy to drift into separate lanes.

When that happens, you lose the intimacy you once had. This is more than physical intimacy; it’s the emotional and spiritual closeness that you share together.

To spend more time enhancing your marriage and friendship together, consider these ideas:

  • Set aside 30 minutes each day to be together and catch up on each other’s day.
  • Go for walks together. This is especially useful if you have a pet that needs a daily walk (or two!).
  • Cook meals together.
  • Play music or dance with each other.
  • Spend a getaway day together where you go out and explore your community.
  • Exercise as a couple.
  • Pick up a new sport or hobby that you are both interested in.

Whether it’s a daily practice that takes a few minutes or getting away on vacation now and then, it’s important to spend time with each other and doing things together.

2. Have Meaningful Conversations

You and your partner probably spent a lot of time talking and getting to know each other when you first started dating. Most likely, these were the kind of conversations where you both lost track of the time. Everything else fell by the wayside as you were drawn into each other.

Don’t let that disappear once you’re married. Instead, continue to have meaningful and thoughtful discussions. Ask your partner what their hopes and dreams are. Show concern if they have a newfound fear.

Relationships evolve over time, and so do people. What was true for your partner when you were dating may have changed by now. Make sure that you are both still on the same page and know what is going on in each other’s worlds.

3. Truly Listen to Each Other

Listening has become something a lost art in our modern, busy, stressed-out world. Yet, it is such an important and key element for knowing each other intimately. How can you possibly know your partner if you don’t pay attention and listen?

Listening intently requires you to slow down and to focus your attention—not on yourself, but on your partner. Take in what they have to say and let it absorb into your mind and heart. Try to relate and connect with what they are feeling and experiencing.

Listen to understand your partner, not to give advice or fix a problem they are sharing with you. Validate the feelings and emotions they are sharing with you. Be curious about what is going on for them.

Listening also means paying attention to your partner’s nonverbal communication. If you can be attuned to both forms of communication, you will be much closer to knowing one another intimately.

4. Laugh Together

The fourth key to intimately knowing your partner is laughter and humor. When you laugh you are releasing endorphins, which affect your mood. You feel more relaxed, accepting, and present.

Imagine what happens when both of you are laughing together. You are both sharing a common experience that is positive, satisfying, and enjoyable. Let’s face it, laughing is just fun!

Knowing what makes your partner laugh can help when times get tough or you need to blow off steam. Sharing a laugh can truly help. Remember, it’s those little events that occur in your life that create a strong foundation for not just a friendship—but a marriage.

The key to a happy marriage and friendship is no big secret. Marriage and friendship are paired  qualities that have stood the test of time.

Don’t allow the busy-ness and stress of everyday life to get in the way of having a strong marriage and friendship.  It’s never too late to put these four key elements into action to create a stronger, more intimate, and consistently caring relationship.
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Roy Faget, MA, is a marriage and family therapist associate and licensed professional counselor intern at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. Contact Roy if you and your partner are looking for assistance to revive friendship and intimacy in your relationship. He can be reached at 512-270-4883, ext. 109, or request an appointment with him on the RCC Austin Scheduling page.

Why Self-Awareness Matters For The Life You Want

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By Roy Faget, MA

Who’s the most important person in the world for you to know? Not your boss, not your lover, not your soul mate. The answer is - YOU! Self-awareness is fundamental to personal growth, good relationships with others, and success in life. Self-awareness is no small thing. Lack of it can break you. Some spiritual traditions even teach that the biggest cause of suffering is not knowing what is going on inside yourself.

We all want to improve our relationships, our occupations, our income, our health, and our happiness. Unless we build our self-awareness, we risk failure before we even start.

What Is Self-awareness?

According to writer and expert Daniel Goleman, who popularized the concept of emotional intelligence, people who are self-aware have these abilities:

  • Emotional Self-Awareness. Those who are self-aware recognize their emotions and the impact these emotions have on their lives.
  • Accurate Self-Assessment. Self-aware people can accurately identify their strengths and limitations.
  • Self-Confidence. People who are self-aware know their worth and capabilities.

Though we may think we know these things about ourselves, we often fail to see that emotional triggers are making us act defensively. We may overestimate our abilities and bite off more than we can chew. Or we may underestimate ourselves and assume that we are less capable than we are.

Some research on self-awareness suggests that although most people believe they are self-aware, only 10% to 15% of adults are truly self-aware.

Self-awareness and Your Personal Growth

Self-awareness won’t change your basic temperament. Knowing that you’re closer to the introvert than to the extrovert end of the spectrum won’t suddenly make you the life of the party.

But gaining more emotional self-awareness can help you understand why you feel the way you do in certain situations and suggest better ways to cope.

For example, do you feel anxious in a crowd, but your sales job requires frequent attendance at conventions and trade shows? It would be helpful, then, to understand the reasons for your anxiety before you try to learn the skills you need to cope with your emotions.

Or, you may decide that the stress associated with sales is too much and find a position more compatible with your personality type.

Becoming self-aware opens you to growth by making you aware of how your assumptions and thought patterns can limit you. Knowing who you are gives you the power to choose your perspective. Then, you can act consciously instead of just rolling with the punches life throws at you.

Self-awareness and Your Path to Success

Cultivating self-awareness gives you the insights you need to achieve success in all areas of your life. As a person who is self-aware, you will understand your own thoughts, beliefs, and emotions better. You will also become aware of how others perceive your attitude and responses and be able to make adjustments to avoid any problems or misconceptions.

Self-awareness and Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Knowing your strengths will let you use them to get through difficult situations. Understanding your weaknesses will help you pinpoint what you need to do to improve. Facing your strengths and weaknesses with maturity lets you take the bad with the good, forgive yourself, and move forward.

Self-awareness and Understanding How Others See You

Understanding how others see you is key to success. Unless you understand how you are perceived by others you risk having them misunderstand you or alienate them.

Self-awareness and Working with Others

People who are open to the contributions and ideas of others are not only better team players, they’re better leaders. Examining your own actions and thinking about what you personally need to change to solve a problem makes it less likely that you’ll point fingers at others. Self-awareness leads to taking responsibility.

Take the Next Step to Knowing Yourself

To grow personally and achieve success, the best place to start is self-awareness. Knowing your temperament and personality, your emotions, your strengths and weaknesses, and understanding how others see and react to you gives you a sense of who you are. It also shows you a vision of who you want to become.
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Roy Faget, MA, is a counselor at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. He works with couples and individuals to help them understand their emotions and behaviors. If you would like to improve your self-awareness, contact Roy at 512-270-4883, ext. 109, or request an appointment with him on the RCC Austin Scheduling page.

7 Communication Techniques to Help You Close the Emotional Distance in Your Relationship

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By Roy Faget, MA

Do you feel miles away from your partner even when you’re sitting right next to each other?

Does it seem like you have run out of things to talk about?

Emotional distance is one of the biggest relationship and marriage killers. In the beginning of your relationship, you felt very close to one another. It was romantic, blissful, and your heart pitter-pattered when you were near each other. Over time, though, the gap between you grew larger and larger. The pitter-patters slowed down as life delivered you mounds of responsibilities, including bills to pay, households and children to manage, work stress, and other duties of adult life. Apart from deciding who makes sure the utility bill is paid this month, it might seem hard to connect at all.

The good news is that it’s not impossible to reclaim the closeness you felt in the beginning.

If you need some techniques to help close that Grand-Canyon-of-a-gap between you, read on to explore some communication tools that can help close the emotional chasm in your relationship.

7 Communication Techniques to Close Emotional Distance

1. Put Down the Device

First things first, put down your phone, tablet, or other device when you talk with your partner. There are few things that scream, “I’m not listening!” like someone messing around with a device when you’re trying to talk with them.

You may love technology, or you may hate it. No matter, prove to your spouse you love them more by putting down the device and giving him or her your undivided attention.

2. Ask Your Partner About His or Her Day

Asking your partner about their day seems simple enough, right? Here’s a new flash – it IS simple. Even in its simplicity, it can have a profound effect on your other half.

In addition, this uncomplicated act shows that you care. You even care about the little things that no one else would really care to hear:

  • What your partner had for lunch
  • Dishing on co-workers
  • Interesting conversations with customers
  • Random thoughts during the day

Like a steam engine, it may be difficult to get your partner to divulge these seemingly insignificant details. Keep trying, though. You may be surprised at the stories that unfold. After you ask, remember to listen wholeheartedly, too.

3. Employ Positive Reinforcement

Although it might make your relationship easier, your partner isn’t a mind reader.

What this means is that you must tell your partner when they do something you like.

Tell him you appreciate him brewing the morning coffee or you appreciate her taking the package to the post office.

By affirming these small acts, you are essentially communicating to your partner that what he or she does is noticed. In short, you’re saying to your partner, “You are important to me and I do not take you for granted.”

4. Reminisce About “Back When”

We may indeed live in the here and now, but reminiscing to “back when” can soften a heart into putty. The great thing about “back when” is that it can be 60 years ago or 6 months ago.

Love is amazing and intriguing. Talking about your sweetheart days can bring you closer together.

If you think you have nothing to talk about, try retelling old stories. Even after 100 times, some stories still foster a special connection between two people.

5. Learn to Speak Your Partner’s Love Language

People express and understand love in different ways. For instance, some people like to show their love through compliments and others like to give gifts. Many people enjoy doing things for others to show they care. The same can be said regarding how people accept love.

Your partner is a unique person in his or her own right. It’s your job as a partner to find out what makes your other half tick.

Have you noticed certain things that you do or say that seems to mean a lot to your partner? If so, do them more. This is what it means to speak your partner’s love language.

And if you’re not sure what your partner’s love language is – ASK!

6. Set Apart Some Time

It seems that an activity is easily forgotten unless you pencil it into your calendar. As odd as it may feel at first, set a few minutes aside each day specifically for talking with your partner.

You may exchange a few nervous and awkward glances in the beginning. It may even remind you of your first date! Still, once you take advantage of these precious few minutes, you’ll both recognize the benefits of time dedicated to each other.

7. Keep Your Heart Open

With significant emotional distance between you, it can be tempting to shut down. Sometimes it’s easier to just walk away rather than give an honest go at communication.

Don’t become a victim to this temptation.

All in all, it may be uncomfortable at first. And you may even feel silly the first several times you try to bridge the emotional distance with these communication techniques. Don’t give up, though. Your relationship, your partner, and you are all worth the effort.
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Roy Faget, MA, is a licensed marriage and family therapist associate at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. Contact him for scheduling at 512-270-4883, ext. 109, or request an appointment with him on the RCC Austin Scheduling Page.

A Good Night's Sleep: Anxiety Takes It Away and Mindfulness Brings It Back!

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By Roy Faget, MA

There’s no better feeling than waking up after a night of solid, uninterrupted sleep. Your mind feels clear, your body feels rested, and you feel ready to take on the day ahead and what it brings.

Is a Good Night’s Sleep THAT Important?

Absolutely!

Generally, adults require between seven and nine hours of sleep at night to be well rested. Tuning into yourself and your body and knowing the amount of sleep that is best for you is an important thing to know for your health and well-being. Some people can feel well rested after only six hours, while others can’t function well with a mere six hours of sleep. If you are sick, you will likely need even more sleep to heal your mind and body.

Everyone is different, and our bodies may have different sleep needs at different times during our lives.

The important thing is to find your “sweet spot” for sleep hours and make it a priority to get that much sleep each evening.

Unfortunately, some may think that making sleep a priority is being “lazy” or associate it with a lack of mental or physical strength. The laziness label may surface especially for those who take an afternoon nap.

The reality is, quality sleep benefits your overall functioning and health. Even the short afternoon nap is a ritual that many make a priority because it helps reset, recharge, increase focus, and improve productivity for the remainder of the day.

Getting the appropriate amount of sleep for your body improves not only your physical functioning, but your cognitive functioning, as well. Sleep improves your physical health by strengthening your immune system and giving you more energy. It also benefits your mental state by improving memory and boosting your creativity. Moreover, sleep improves your mood and allows for a clearer mind.

Clearly, a good night’s sleep is critical for all of us.

What Role Does Anxiety Play in Sleep Patterns?

For those who struggle with anxiety, sleep is especially important. Stress and anxiety have a close link to sleeping patterns. In fact, according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, seven out of ten adults who struggle with anxiety claim it plays a major role in their sleeping patterns.

Of course, we all experience stress or anxiety at times. It’s not abnormal to experience sleep loss during stressful times in our lives (e.g. the night before an interview, a big presentation, or an important exam). But, those with anxiety experience this same sleep loss multiple times per week and may have difficulty going to sleep because of their anxiety, or wake up in the night and can’t return to sleep because they can’t calm their thoughts and emotions.

If you suffer from anxiety and struggle to get sufficient sleep because of it, a mindfulness practice is a great way to restore peace in your life and get some much needed, quality rest.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness expert, Jon Kabat-Zinn, defines mindfulness as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. It’s about knowing what’s on your mind.”

Practicing mindfulness will allow you to become fully present for each moment of your life. Mindfulness also encourages a disregard of emotional judgment. Its goal is not to escape all negative and anxious thoughts but to acknowledge they exist and to accept them.

A crucial part of being in the here-and-now is having the realization that there is nothing you can do to change the past, and there is nothing you can do to predict the future. Mindfulness is a helpful tool to combat anxiety and stress because you can’t think about the past or the future when you are focusing on the present moment. If you find yourself drifting into ruminating thoughts, just notice it, and then return to the present moment.

How Exactly Does Mindfulness Improve Sleep?

By focusing on the present moment, mindfulness doesn’t allow the mental space in your thoughts to dwell on the past or stress about the future. When you focus on, and are mindful of the present moment, you give yourself a reprieve from repetitive thoughts and worries, and allow body and mind to rest, which will help you drift off to sleep.

An important part of practicing mindfulness is concentrating on your breathing. Focusing on your breath enables you to think of nothing other than relaxation in the present. It promotes the activation of the relaxation response, the opposite of a stress response, and allows you to sleep better at night. Other mindfulness focuses are helpful, as well, but being aware of breathing is a good first step at practicing mindfulness.

Keep in mind, though, while mindfulness is certainly key right before bedtime, it’s also important for you practice it throughout the day. Even brief moments of mindfulness go a long to helping reduce anxiety and stress. With fewer daily stressors, nights are more naturally prone to relaxation.

One of the greatest things about mindfulness is that it can be practiced anywhere at any time. While adopting a mindfulness practice may take a bit of practice, or even some help from a counselor trained in the use of therapeutic protocols incorporating mindfulness practices, it’s well worth the reward to integrate a mindfulness practice into your life if you struggle with anxiety.
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Roy Faget is a marriage and family therapist associate with the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. Contact him for scheduling at 512-270-4883, ext. 109, or request an appointment with him on the RCC Austin Scheduling Page.

Avoid Angry, Relationship-Ending Habits: Resolve Conflict This Way

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By Roy Faget, MA, LMFT Associate

We so often wrongly assume that conflict must mean that something in our relationship is going wrong, but that’s actually not the case at all. Conflict is a natural and yes, even healthy, part of every relationship. It is not the avoidance of conflict that makes for a good relationship, but how you handle that conflict. Use these tips to resolve conflict appropriately while avoiding angry, relationship-ending habits:

Timing is everything

Timing is everything – in business, in relationships, and yes, in conflict management. If you’ve been having conflict problems with your partner, it’s important that you strategize the best time to broach the subject. For example, if they’re stressed about an upcoming project deadline, wait until after that project is due. Don’t broach the subject when you’re tired and ready for bed or when you’re busy and heading out the door. Wait until you have time to discuss the problem at hand. If the conflict comes up in a preexisting conversation, it’s okay to take a breather. Take a step back from the conversation so that you can gather your thoughts. To resolve conflict efficiently, you need to be in a healthy mental space.

Don’t beat around the bush

When engaging in conflict management with your partner, it’s important to be straightforward and to the point. Be assertive in your needs without being aggressive. Describe, at face value, the problem you have and state your needs to ensure the conflict resolves effectively. Your partner cannot properly adhere to the conflict resolution if they don’t know what they can do to make things better. For example, instead of saying “I hate when you leave the bed unmade” try saying, “If you’re the last one up in the morning, can you please remember to make the bed?” When you implicitly state your needs in a direct manner, they are more likely to adhere to them.

Don’t draw from history

Many people make the mistake of dwelling on past experiences instead of focusing on the situation at hand. To resolve conflict in a healthy manner, it’s important that you avoid character accusations built from past experiences. For instance, if your conflict is about your relationship communication issues, this is not the time to mention the problems you have with your partner’s parenting skills. Avoid statements such as: “this is so typical of you” or “this is just like that one time you _______”. Drawing upon past issues will only irritate your partner and make them less inclined to resolve conflict.

Use “I” statements

When you initiate conflict management, it’s vital that you portray your feelings about the current problem. If your partner is doing something that bothers you, instead of attacking them, tell them why it’s affecting you. For example, if your spouse has been slacking in their part of the household chores, let them know why this is a problem. Instead of saying “you NEVER clean up after yourself”, try saying “I feel overwhelmed when all the chores are left for me. Can you keep up your end?” This approach doesn’t stem from anger, so will likely be met with a better, healthier response in return.

What you’re not saying is just as important as what you are

Body language, nonverbal communication, and tone of voice are all important factors to take into consideration during a disagreement. While it’s important to speak kindly to one another, it’s also important that your nonverbal communication matches. If you use “I” statements, broach the subject at an appropriate time, and do all the “right” things, none of it will matter if your body language says otherwise. Avoid eye rolling, using sarcasm or raising your voice to most effectively communicate. Listening to what your partner has to say to you doesn’t mean that you must agree with them, it just means that they know that they have also been heard.

Conflict management is a two-way street. It’s important that both you and your partner are willing to work through your relationship problems to create healthy resolutions. Remember that conflict does not have to be the demise of your relationship when you approach it in a productive and efficient manner.
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Roy Faget, MA, is a marriage and family therapist associate at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. He works with couples to help them learn better communication skills, and with couples and individuals to help them through a variety of life transitions. Contact him for scheduling at 512-270-4883, ext. 109, or request an appointment with him by completing the form on the RCC Austin Scheduling Page.

 

How Goal Setting Eases Tough Transitions With Strategic Change

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By Roy Faget, MA

The birth of a baby, the start of a new job, the termination of a relationship, becoming an empty nester, selling your home and moving to a new city: these are just a few of the numerous changes life may have in store for us. Change can be scary, but it’s also an inevitable fact of life. Some changes come by choice, while others may take us by surprise.

Either way, life is fluid and change is bound to happen. The best way to embrace life’s changes is to prepare for them through the process of goal setting. Because goals keep us grounded, we can more easily transition to the next stage of life. The following is a list of ways that goal setting can aid us in the change process:

Goals setting gives you a sense of control

Even changes that are made by choice can eventually leave us feeling out of control. Let’s say you’ve chosen to begin a new job in a new state – it sounded fun at the time, but as reality sinks in, the excitement wears off.

Something that you chose, now feels completely out of control.

However, when you set goals in advance, you can create a clear plan. This way, when you begin to question or doubt yourself, you’ll remember why you made the initial decision. For example – is this move to better your career? Remind yourself of all the pros this job has in store. Is this move a result of feeling stagnant at home? Goals can remind you of all the reasons you needed that change. When you set clear goals, and follow through with them, you’ll feel more at ease with your decision.

Goal setting allows you to focus on what’s most important

Setting goals will give you the opportunity to hone in on what in life is most important to you. When you set goals, you’re able to re-focus on the direction you want our life to take. For example, if raising family is your number one priority, many of your goals will be focused toward your spouse and your children. You may set goals about how many kids you want, what age you want to have them, how many years apart you want them to be, etc.

The transition of adding a baby to your life can be scary, especially for new parents. But because of the goals you’ve set, you’ll feel less scared and more prepared for this decision. When the negative aspects of the transition occur, you can rely on your goals to remember that the pros outweigh the cons.

Goal setting ensures that you can move forward productively

Unexpected change is extremely difficult to navigate, but by creating goals, we can better move forward. Grieving the loss of a long-term relationship, for example, is a change that we generally don’t anticipate; however, when we use this as an opportunity to set goals, we can make meaning from this change.

Take time to reflect upon and look back at what went wrong to determine how you can make things better going forward. Your relationship didn’t end out of the blue – determine the defining factors and set goals to ensure you don’t experience the same thing again. These goals can be what you’ll look for in another relationship, or they can be goals centered on what you want to do with your life now that the relationship is over.

Change can elicit a vast array of feelings, all of which are valid. But goal setting can allow you to more better prepare for and manage these feelings. When you set goals, you can feel at ease even when you’re navigating through tough transitions.

Finally, be sure to seek help if you need it, as well. Goals supported and clarified with the objectivity and encouragement of a therapist, will feel that much more solid and achievable.

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Working with individuals and couples during life transitions is a specialty area of counseling practice for RCC Austin counselor, Roy Faget. To schedule an appointment with him, call 512-270-4883, ext. 109, or request an appointment with him on the Scheduling Page on our website.