When Your Spouse Doesn’t Like Your BFFs…

Remember those days when you first met your spouse and everything felt like springtime? Those initial months were full of all the best firsts—first dates, first smooches, first adventures, and of course, the first time you introduced him or her to the other “loves of your life”—your besties. In an ideal world, your pals like your partner just as much as you do, and vice versa. But when they don’t? It can wreak havoc not on the friendships, but rather, on your marriage, according to a new study.

For the study, researchers followed 355 heterosexual couples to determine the impact of friendships on marriage after 16 years. None of the couples was interracial, to rule out race as a potential source of tension). What the researchers found was fascinating: In white couples where the husbands liked their wife’s friends, 70 percent of couples were still together by the end of the study. However, in white couples where the husbands didn’t like their partner’s pals, only 50 percent remained together. For black couples, liking the friends didn’t seem to impact the relationship.

What do psychologists think of this theory? Sex and relationships therapist Courtney Geter, LMFT, CST says that connecting friend groups is an important aspect of a relationship, and not getting along with one another’s tribe can lead to arguments. “It is typical for spouses to bring up friends in conversations. If your husband makes a negative comment about your friends, you may feel unsupported or torn between two aspects of your life,” she explains. “If you don’t address your feelings and resolve the conflict, it could impact other areas of the relationship, such as enjoyment spent with your husband or even areas such as sex.”

The disapproval of your friend group is worse when it’s coming from your partner, whose opinion usually means more than anyone else’s. “This is the person that we love and trust the most, so their assessment of others around us matters to us,” says psychologist Nikki Martinez, PsyD, LCPC.” We want to know that they agree that someone is a good person, that they are likable, and that they enjoy being around them,” she says.

One possible reason we may be bumping into this problem more and more in recent years is that dating patterns have shifted from in-person to online. So whereas we used to meet people at parties or through friends, where there was already a built-in connection and like-mindedness, increasingly we’re meeting people on dating sites and apps, where there’s no such framework.

This Internet lens can be tricky to navigate, as your partner gets to know your friends not at a bar or a BBQ but via their profiles and posts, which can be heavily curated. “Social media does not provide a realistic view of another person’s life, as they are posting the best-looking or most exciting pictures and status updates about their lives,” Geter says. “Since there is a screen between you and the rest of the world, humans are more likely to make comments they typically wouldn’t make in person or they can avoid conflict resolution with one click of a button or closing a window.”

So is your marriage doomed if your husband isn’t a fan of your BFFs? Definitely not, according to Geter and Martinez, but you might have to manage expectations on both sides. One key way to approach it is to have couple friends and individual friends, neither of which have to mingle.

In fact, it’s a good idea to have your own set of pals for support. “I encourage women to have friends outside of the couple relationship as well as hobbies outside of her husband’s interest. Not only does this allow distance for you to miss your husband, but it also provides opportunities for sharing when you are together,” Geter says. “Since you have your own personal friend group outside of the couple friend group, this may limit how often your husband is around those friends.”

***

From: Reader’s Digest by Lindsay Tigar

When your partner is also your best friend

It goes without saying, you don’t have to be “best friends” to have a great relationship (some people even gag at that idea). But while others might think of you as insular or clingy, you know better.

1. You started out as friends. 

Great things take time. Baked potatoes, fully mature redwood trees, and friendships that turn into relationships. First dates feel different than first hangouts. You really get to know each other’s personality when you’re not as worried about trying to impress the other person.

2. He makes you laugh all the time and you make him crack up. 

It’s not just about how he makes you feel, or how great the sex is, or how well you work together. When you hang out, you wind up cracking each other up so much you can’t breathe. Some of your favorite memories are the two of you doing the dumbest stuff and laughing about it nonstop.

3. He always wants you around. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s a “guys’ night” or a five-hour road trip; he wants to hang out with you. And it feels natural too. When he’s out with friends, you never get the vibe of “oh, he brought his girlfriend along.” You’re his friend, so you’re everyone else’s friend. Basically, all his guys just sees you as “that one friend he also has sex with”… which is a compliment, really.

4. You always know what he’s thinking. 

It’s not quite like you can read each other’s minds, but you’re so comfortable with each other that it really feels like that sometimes.

5. He’s seen you through your worst moments. 

He’s gotten you through some of your darkest moments, however you define them. Even when other friends drop off or stop calling, he’s there for you, and you’re always there for him.

6. You can spend a day just hanging out. 

It’s not that you both love being couch sloths all day, but you could be and still have a good time. You don’t need to be making Instagrammable moments constantly to feel like you’re having a good time. All you really need is each other.

7. Other couples hate you just a little. 

They might not say it to your face, but you can tell they’re insanely jealous of the chemistry you share. You can tell. Basically, you make other couples look boring and they can’t stand it.

8 You don’t feel like you need time apart from each other. 

You know how to prioritize “you” time when there’s something you want to get done just for yourself, but everything you do just feels somehow better when you’re with them.

9. He trusts you deeply. 

Not just in the basic ways, like trusting you not to cheat on him when you go out. That barely even counts; that’s just assuming you’re not going to be a garbage person. He also trusts you with things he’s never told anyone, like his embarrassing secrets.

10. It still feels like you just started dating. 

You still have this energy that’s stuck around even though you’ve been dating for years. That “honeymoon phase” never really ended for you.

***

From: Cosmopolitan by Frank Kobola

Signs your ‘person’ is a commitment-phobe

You know a commitment-phobe when you see one on TV, or you wouldn’t have groaned every time Blair and Chuck got back together again. But in your own life, spotting that commitment-phobe in between all the “I’m not sure when I’ll be free tonight’s” is a tougher challenge. Here, Dr. Berit Brogaard, Professor and Director of the Brogaard Lab for Multisensory Research at the University of Miami, explains how to spot avoidant attachment in the wild:

1. You don’t feel “matched” in your texts. 

In your messages, you’ll actually go deep into details about how your day was, providing plenty of opportunities for the other person to ask you, well, anything. But a commitment-phobe, according to Brogaard, will have “a tendency not to continue a text message thread, by replying briefly or submissively with ‘K,’ ‘Sounds like fun,’ ‘Wow,’ ‘IDK’ and so on.” So before you let them off the hook for bad texting, consider the fact that they could be emotionally unavailable.

2. Even after a great date, you won’t hear from them anytime soon. 

Brogaard warns that commitment-phobes tend to not initiate contact first and will go through long periods of radio silence after dates—meaning YOU always have to do all the romantic legwork.

3. They’re irritatingly vague about their schedule. 

Here are some key phrases that Brogaard says raise commitment-phobia alarm bells:

  • “I’m really busy at work right now. But let’s get together in a few weeks when things slow down a bit.”
  • “Sorry I haven’t been in touch for so long. Things have been crazy around here. What have you been up to?”
  • “Sorry, didn’t see your text ’til now. How are you?”

Ok, we’ve all sent the “omg so sorry, just saw this!” text after a four-hour Netflix binge. There’s a huge difference, though, when someone does this all the time, to the point where your main interaction with them is rainchecking.

4. They only plan dates around what’s convenient for them. 

Since their schedule is just ~too busy~, their ideas of dates include inviting you to a bar where, oh wow, *their* team is currently playing and it’s suuuuuch a tight game! Who cares that you don’t know the full rules of basketball and don’t really care? Not this guy, who only tells you when he’s free three hours in advance!

5. They’re chronically late, chronically flakey, or a lovely combo of both. 

Because they don’t want to view dating as “serious”, they don’t stress over or prioritize getting there on time and don’t really care if them canceling screws up their chances with you.

6. They’re pretty impulsive, but only when it comes to you. 

“They may be very conscientious and hardworking at work or in school but then be impulsive when it comes to going out or getting together,” says Brogaard. Everything comes before the person they’re dating.

7. They constantly reiterate how casual everything is. 

Another key phrase Brogaard says to be wary of is “Not sure I’m ready for a relationship right now. Give me some time.” You’ll make your desire for monogamy clear, and rather than breaking things off to spare any hurt feelings, they’ll string you along with promises of a “maybe-one-day” relationship.

8. They’re “not great” with PDA. 

“It’s difficult for commitment-phobes to show signs of affection, especially in public,” says Brogaard. “They will tend not to say ‘I love you’ back, or they will only say it after drinking or the like. Some can only put it in writing but not say it (or vice versa).”

9. They usually don’t have true, close friends. 

While “they may still be part of a big circle of people who meet up” according to Brogaard, they don’t have friends they’ve stuck with for a long time and have a deeper relationship with.

10. They won’t actually admit fault in their past relationships. 

“They might blame the other person or simply say ‘we weren’t a good match’ or ‘we were just really bad for each other’,” says Brogaard. They have yet to experience any crucial post-breakup epiphanies about their own patterned dating flaws.

11. Or they won’t even call a past relationship a relationship. 

That girl he saw exclusively for six months was completely casual, and he has no idea why she freaked out and deleted their whole Eurotrip album when he sent her a breakup text.

12. They had lots of short relationships or pretty shallow long-term ones. 

“If they had long relationships, they were usually not very committed,” says Brogaard. “Even when they were committed on the surface (for instance, engaged or married), you might discover that the two of them led very separate lives.”

13. They’ll keep saying they want to “take things slow” as an excuse. 

Of course, cautiously easing into a new relationship is a perfectly normal (and emotionally healthy!) thing to do. But you have to wonder if your relationship is moving anywhere at all. “People who are taking it slow will tend to move forward,” says Brogaard. “Commitment-phobes will tend to provide obstacles to any relationship progress.”

14. They always need more space than you’re giving them. 

Even the honeymoon period of seeing each other a lot scares them. For commitment-phobes trying to work on their dating issues, Brogaard recommends dating someone who “is very busy in their own life”, so that space is never an issue.

15. They complain about the pressure to be in a monogamous relationship a lot. 

Obviously, societal norms can be annoying, but if they talk negatively about marital expectations more often than any of the upsides of a strong partnership, it kind of shows that they deep down think monogamy never really works out.

16. You can tell that something about relationships clearly freaks them out, but they can’t articulate it. 

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, after all. Brogaard suggests possible questions to ask a commitment-phobe about their fears of relationships: “Is it that they impose on your need for alone time? Is it that you have intimacy issues? Is it that you set unrealistically high standards for potential partners? Once you realize what it is, you can work on that particular issue (for instance, make sure that your partner is willing to give you plenty of alone time, if that is what you are craving).”

Commitment-phobia is definitely curable if a person wants to work on it and explore why they think that ALL relationships will end up being disappointing. But that dude sending you another “haha :)” before ghosting for two days is probably not on that path right now.

***

From Cosmopolitan by Julia Pugachevsky

 

How YOGA Changes Your Body

After Class.

Improved Brain Function.
Just 20 minutes of Hatha yoga — an ancient form of the practice that emphasizes physical postures rather than flow or sequences — can improve cognitive function, boosting focus and working memory. In a University of Illinois study, participants performed significantly better on tests of brain functioning after yoga, as compared to their performance after 20 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise.

Lower Stress Levels.
Yoga’s stress-busting powers may come from its ability to lessen the activity of proteins that are known to play a role in inflammation, according to a study published last year from University of California, Los Angeles researchers.

Alter Gene Expression.
A small Norwegian study suggested that yoga’s many healthy benefits might come from its ability to alter gene expression in immune cells.

Increased Flexibility.
A recent Colorado State University study found that Bikram yoga — a form of yoga in which a series of 26 postures are performed for 90 minutes in a heated room — is linked with increased shoulder, lower back and hamstring flexibility, as well as greater deadlift strength and decreased body fat, compared with a control group.

After A Few Months.

Lower Blood Pressure.
People with mild to moderate hypertension might benefit from a yoga practice, as a study from University of Pennsylvania researchers found that it could help to lower their blood pressure levels. Researchers found that people who practiced yoga had greater drops in blood pressure compared with those who participated in a walking/nutrition/weight counseling program.

Improved Lung Capacity.
A small 2000 Ball State University study found that practicing Hatha yoga for 15 weeks could significantly increase vital lung capacity, which is the maximum amount of air exhaled after taking a deep breath. Vital lung capacity is one of the components of lung capacity.

Improved Sexual Function.
A 2009 Harvard study published in the The Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that yoga could boost arousal, desire, orgasm and general sexual satisfaction for women. Yoga can also improve women’s sex lives by helping them to become more familiar with their own bodies, according to a review of studies published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, as reported by CNN.

Reduced Chronic Neck Pain.
A German study published in The Journal of Pain showed that four weeks of practicing Iyengar yoga (a type of Hatha yoga that stresses proper alignment and the use of props) is effective in reducing pain intensity in adults suffering from chronic neck pain.

Anxiety Relief.
A 2010 Boston University study showed that 12 weeks of yoga could help to reduce anxiety and increase gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels in the brain (low levels of GABA have been linked with depression and anxiety disorders).

Relief from Chronic Back Pain.
Researchers at West Virginia University found Iyengar Yoga to be more effective in reducing pain and improving mood than standard medical treatment among those with chronic lower back problems.

Steady Blood Sugar Levels in People with Diabetes.
Adding yoga to a typical diabetes care regimen could result in steady blood sugar levels, according to a 2011 Diabetes Care study. Reuters reported that just three months of yoga in addition to diabetes care resulted in a decrease in body mass index, as well as no increases in blood sugar levels.

Improved Sense of Balance.
Practicing an Iyengar yoga program designed for older adults was found to improve balance and help prevent falls in women over 65, according to a 2008 Temple University study.

After Years.

Stronger Bones.
A 2009 pilot study by Dr. Loren Fishman showed that practicing yoga could improve bone density among older adults.

“We did a bone mineral density (DEXA) scan, then we taught half of them the yoga, waited two years, and did another scan,” Fishman previously told The Huffington Post. “And not only did these people not lose bone, they gained bone. The ones who didn’t do the yoga lost a little bone, as you would expect.”

Healthy Weight.
Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found an association between a regular yoga practice and decreased weight — or at least a maintained weight — among more than 15,000 healthy, middle-aged adults.

“Those practicing yoga who were overweight to start with lost about five pounds during the same time period those not practicing yoga gained 14 pounds,” study researcher Alan Kristal, DPH, MPH, told WebMD.

Lower Risk Of Heart Disease.
As part of a healthy lifestyle, yoga may lower cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, according to Harvard Health Publications.

***

From: Huffington Post

14 Signs You’re Low-Key Winning this Break up

1. You unfollowed or unfriended them instead of stubbornly trying to seem chill.

You know that if you still have easy access to their page, you will be hurt when you see them have any semblance of fun without you. You’d rather them know you need your space instead of letting a grainy pic of them eating a burrito ruin your day.

2. You immediately got rid of (or at least hid) the little reminders. 

Honestly, if you can Marie Kondo the vast collection of t-shirts you accumulated from them, you can handle anything.

3. You cathartically rehashed your whole breakup with your BFF. 

It’s the nights where you split fries and cheap wine as a prelude to a five-hour in-depth talk about relationships that really make you fucking grateful for your best friend.

4. You refreshed your look in at least one tiny (or major) way. 

TBH, the highlight of a breakup is going for that one haircut that always got an “Eh, sure, I guess, you do you but I do love your hair now, just saying!” from your ex. Get. That. Pixie. Cut.

5. You went out to a thing you weren’t thaaaat excited about but had a surprisingly great time. 

The moment your friend invites you to a party full of 95 percent strangers over an hour away from you, you will immediately regret sending that “sure!” But when your one expectation is “I need something to keep me from scanning WikiHow articles about how he’s not really over me but doesn’t know it yet,” being pleasantly surprised by a decent night is just the boost you need.

6. You went out to a thing you weren’t thaaaat excited about, but this time you were sad and just let yourself feel it. 

So you decided to put your new singledom to good use and go out with the girls. You Insta’d a gallery of you together in competitively plunge-y tops with a Beyoncé song lyric, except the night took a sharp turn when your friends found guys immediately and left you to buy your fourth margarita alone. But you’d rather glumly stare at your ripply cocktail reflection than force yourself to hook up with someone when you’re not ready. There’s power in that.

7. You signed up for a totally random class that only severe heartache would make you consider. 

You never considered taking hot yoga classes…until now.

8. You’re not eating the soupy remains of your Ben and Jerry’s for dinner every night. 

The people who harness their newfound free time and cook a paella from scratch to go with that bottle of wine are the people who will survive the apocalypse.

9. You finally binged that show your ex showed no interest in. 

You judge them so much more for not giving The Handmaid’s Tale a chance now that you’ve actually seen it.

10. You’ve asked more people to hang out one-on-one than you have in a while. 

When you’re in a relationship, your Google calendar practically auto-fills with dates, double dates, and whatever party one of your now-merged-together collective of friends is hosting. Losing at least some of those thought-free plans means actually having to make the first move in asking people to chill and thus penciling in a night with friends you may have thrown to the wayside a little when you were dating (hey, happens to all of us).

11. You’ve joined a dating app and gone on a date. 

Even if it goes nowhere, it still feels validating to know that you can handle the thought of having to date (and subsequently, risk getting hurt) again.

12. You roll your eyes at people pitying your singledom a little too much. 

Yes, breakups are sad—devastatingly so at times—but you know you’ll be fine, even though other people weirdly don’t. You’re not here for the people nervously reassuring you that you’ll find someone better soon, as if you’re incapable of enjoying a solo lunch date.

13. You remembered, like, 75 things that annoyed you in that relationship. 

You’re at the point where you can truthfully say that your ex’s relentless habit of drenching french fries with serpentine squiggles of ketchup was always going to be a deal breaker.

14. A part of you kind of lives for being single again. 

Being able to freely starfish in your bed multiple nights in a row is a gift. Cherish it.

***

From Cosmopolitan by Julia Pugachevsky

17 Signs You’re Into Someone More Than They Are Into You

Finding out you’re putting everything into a relationship or casual thing, and the other person isn’t, can be utterly heartbreaking. It’s a truly horrible feeling knowing that you’re crushin’ on someone harder than they are on you. But do you know what? Figuring that out and accepting it is a whole lot easier, healthier, and better for you in the long run than flogging the dead horse that is your relationship.

Everybody’s different and has totally varied relationship expectations. So just because your bae is guilty of a few signs, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not into you (it could be their personality that makes them not touchy-feely or romantic). But if you’re consistently finding a lot of the below signs to be spot-on, it’s best to have a long hard think about whether the feelings you have are truly requited.

  1. When they don’t answer right away when you call them, you find yourself trying again before they return your call.
  2. They seem unenthusiastic to hear from you (or are always preoccupied) when they do pick up.
  3. When you do speak, they either keep it short and sweet or don’t seem engaged in the conversation. Maybe they’re happy to talk about themselves but switch off when you’re talking.
  4. When they consistently take ages to reply to texts on a regular basis and offer no excuse or apology.
  5. When you meet up, it’s slightly awkward and almost cold when they greet you.
  6. Your attempt at a passionate “hello kiss” when you greet them is returned as a peck on the cheek.
  7. Your PDA attempts are always met with a side swerve of the lips or hands, or they never initiate physical affection. Obvs, some people are just not into PDA, so don’t rely on this too heavily.
  8. The natural warmth and easy-going vibe you put on when you hang out seems to be returned with a stilted and somewhat awkward attitude.
  9. When you go to sleep at night and reach out to show affection, they consistently don’t respond or they show a lack of interest.
  10. They do little to participate when you’re having sex and it feels like you’re merely going through the motions. The obvious physical and emotional distance creates an overall lack of intimacy.
  11. While you’re willing to be generous with your time, money, and resources, they’re cold and stingy.
  12. You show your partner off and include them in family and friend gatherings but they seem reluctant to include you and it feels like they’re keeping you at arm’s length.
  13. When you express your feelings about them, it’s either returned with little to no enthusiasm, or awkwardness.
  14. They don’t show much (or any!) interest in you and your world, but you have all the time for them no matter whats going on in your life.
  15. When it comes to special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, you make an effort with the present to make them feel special. But they make little or no effort, and nothing about their attempts screams attention to detail.
  16. You’re happy to be romantic, but they treat and talk to you like you’re a friend—doing things like talking about their attraction to others when they’re around you.
  17. Your gut instinct tells you they aren’t as into you, but rather than raise the issue, you ignore the feeling because you’re afraid of what they might say or that you’ll lose them.

****

From Cosmopolitan UK by Paisley Gilmour

Why You Accidentally Ruin Your Relationships, Based On Your Love Language

Words Of Affirmation

You send good morning texts the second you rise from your sleep. You say I love you with zero hesitation. You brag to your friends about how you’ve found the perfect person for you. You are always talking about how much you like your person, but words aren’t enough. You have to follow through on what you say. Your actions need to match your voice. Telling someone you want to spend the weekend together or take a vacation upstate doesn’t actually mean anything if you back out of plans when the time comes. You have to keep your promises. You have to prove that your word means something.

Quality Time

When you like someone, you want to spend as much time with them as possible. You text them from morning until night. You invite them over every weekend. You expect to see them whenever you find free time in your schedule. Sometimes, without even realizing what you’re doing, you suffocate people. You make them feel like they aren’t allowed to hang out with their own friends and need to check in with you constantly. Sometimes, they will even feel like you don’t trust them. Like you keep such close tabs on them because you’re worried they are up to something. That miscommunication can put a strain on the relationship.

Receiving Gifts

You might not show someone your burning love for them on a daily basis, but when the holidays come around, you are the best gift giver in town. You show your affection by spending hours browsing through websites for a present that fits them perfectly. Because of that, some people mistakenly believe that you are materialistic. Shallow. That you only care about money. They don’t look close enough at your presents to see how sentimental they are, how much thought you put into them. They wish you would show your love through your daily actions instead of only through material items on special occasions.

Acts Of Service

You will buy groceries for someone who is low on cash. You will drive miles to pick someone up at the airport. You will risk getting in trouble at work to answer important texts. When it comes down to it, you’re too nice. You go out of your way to help people before they even ask and end up getting walked over. That’s why, sometimes, you feel like you’re already in a relationship when you’re not. You get invested in people, you try to save people, and find yourself in yet another almost relationship.

Physical Touch

You love holding hands while you walk. Resting a hand on their thigh beneath the table. Cuddling during movie dates. Getting touchy underneath the covers. Since you are so hands-on, some people mistakenly believe you are only interested in physical intimacy. They question whether you really like them or whether you are only using them as a warm body to press up against while you sleep. They need reassurance that you like their personality, too. That you aren’t only with them because you’re lonely and would get close to anyone who offered their affection.

***

From Thought Catalog by Holly Riordan

How to Deal with Depression

Depression can drain your energy, hope and drive, making it hard to do what you need to feel better.But while overcoming depression isn’t easy, there are plenty of little things that can help you on the way to recovery.Many people make the fundamental mistake of presuming that depression is sadness, but the two are entirely different things.

While sadness is a normal human emotion that comes and goes and is usually caused by certain events, depression is a constant feeling of sadness and hopelessness.

And while the mental illness, which can last for weeks, months or even years, can’t be overcome through willpower alone, there are ways to beat it.

Even if your depression is severe and persistent, small steps like avoiding isolation, exercising and learning relaxation techniques can help ease the symptoms.

Here, life coach and clinical hypnotherapist Sloan Sheridan-Williams reveals her top tips for dealing with depression:

1. BREAK TASKS DOWN INTO SMALL STEPS A common symptom of depression is the feeling of being overwhelmed even by ordinary day-to-day tasks.Even getting out of bed and getting dressed can feel like a huge hurdle and people become more withdrawn and less active as depression becomes more severe.

The best way to overcome feeling overwhelmed is to break down the activity in small, easier-to-achieve chunks.

This can either be in the form of writing a step-by-step list of everything that needs to be done or mentally visualising all the actions that would take place to complete a task and then doing those actions in sequence, slowly but surely.

2. AVOID ISOLATION BY CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE

Depression evokes behaviours in people which tend to cut them off from the outside world. As a result they can become more withdrawn and less talkative or sociable.

This develops into a vicious cycle where the less time the depressed person spends with others, the less time they want to spend with others.

Connection is one of the six basic emotional needs and when depression takes hold it is often the need that gets most neglected in favour of satisfying the need for comfort through isolation.

When the first signs of depression appear it is important to spend more time cultivating relationships with family, loved ones and friends, for these are the very people who will be there for the individual as their support network.

Being able to talk about your problems makes dealing with them easier and therefore it is very helpful to identify the people you can trust and rely on.

3. GO FOR A WALK The correlation between exercise and feeling good has long been established.And feel-good hormones such as dopamine and endorphins which are produced during exercise can improve mood in individuals with mild to moderate depression.

It can be difficult to stay motivated when depressed so vigorous exercise such as running or going to the gym can be tough to keep up.

However even moderate exercise like a brisk walk has been shown to improve mood.

I suggest to my clients a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day, five times a week as it has shown to have a significant positive influence on the symptoms of mild to moderate depression.

Even better is walking with someone you care about, as this will increase the level of love hormone oxytocin in the brain.

4. ACCEPT PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

The power of the mind is an amazing thing, and although pharmaceutical intervention is certainly beneficial in cases of severe depression, individuals can work towards overcoming mild or moderate depression faster if they start to take personal responsibility for their actions and behaviours.

This advice is not about “pulling yourself together” but more about what decisions need to be made by the individual to make them feel more powerful and happy.

We have all the answers we need inside of us and the challenge is to find ways to access those answers to help improve our quality of life.

It is good to establish the fact that you are the one who can make things happen rather than have things happen to you.

5. LEARN SOME RELAXTION TECHNIQUES 

Deep breathing and relaxing the muscles are the basis of all relaxation techniques and these two physiological actions work very effectively to help the psychological aspects of depression.

Breathing should be slow and rhythmic, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.

Deep muscle relaxation is an excellent technique for everyone to master – not just those with depression – as it can be used anywhere to help deeply relax the body.

Each part of the body is tensed for a few seconds and then relaxed moving from the toes to the head systematically.

Yoga and tai chi are also great ways to help relax the body, and can provide the individual with much needed connection if done in a class.

6. CHALLENGE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS Negative thinking and obsessing on unhelpful thoughts are two common symptoms of depression.Shifting the focus of the mind is key to getting perspective on the situation and reclaiming your power.

When you take responsibility for your thoughts and turn such focus towards gratitude you will start to feel comforted about the more positive aspects of yourself and your environment.

It is important for the individual to identify any warped thoughts, like negative filtering and over-generalisation that are not representative of reality, by getting perspective.

7. IMPROVE YOUR DIET 

Eating four to six small meals throughout the day rather than two to three large ones can help stabilise blood sugar, giving you more energy to deal with the day and avoiding sugar crashes and cravings that will sap what energy you do have.

Reducing the amount of simple carbohydrates like refined sugar and white flour in your diet can also help keep blood sugar levels stable and therefore help improve mood when depressed.

Although we head straight for the biscuit tin when we are feeling blue, eating processed carbohydrate-rich foods like sweets, biscuits, cakes and white bread will leave you feeling sluggish and heavy.

Swap these foods for healthier wholegrain or low GI alternatives which will have less impact on blood sugar and also keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Some of my clients find eating a high protein, low carbohydrate diet can also help. Seeking a nutritionist’s advice can play a huge part in helping you seek the balance you need, both nutritionally and mentally.

8. TAKE AN OMEGA-3 SUPPLEMENTOmega-3 is an Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) which has a positive effect on mood when taken in high enough doses as a supplement.It is present in fish, shellfish, flaxseed, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds so can easily be supplemented into a diet naturally should you so wish.

Alternatively, they are commonly taken as fish oil, krill oil or linseed oil supplements.

9. LIMIT ALCOHOL AND CAFFEINE 

Alcohol and caffeine in the form of coffee are used by many who are depressed to purportedly help them through the day.

This form of self medication may seem like a useful coping strategy to some, however it is far from helpful as both alcohol and caffeine are psychoactive drugs which cross the blood-brain barrier and affect brain function resulting in changes in mood, thinking, behaviour, perception and consciousness.

Alcohol is a commonly abused substance within the general population and in cases of depression sufferers often use alcohol for its depressant effects.

Caffeine is known to be a stimulant used to keep awake and more alert.

Such seeking of comfort or stimuli to just make it through the day shows that a fundamental human emotional need is not being met by other means and so we look for a short-term fix which is not only temporary but hollow.

The short-term effects of these psychoactive drugs may appear beneficial but in the long term brain chemistry is in fact being altered and mood ultimately becomes more unstable which can make the symptoms of depression worse.

10. HAVE A REGULAR SLEEP TIME

Getting a good night’s sleep is important for everyone but especially for those suffering from depression. Conversely too much sleep (over eight hours) can exacerbate depression.

As with most things it is about balance and everything in moderation.

Regular sleeping hours are essential in managing mood and having a regular bedtime and rise time is important too.

The depressed individual should be going to bed and waking up at the same time every day of the week including weekends.

Go back to basics, set alarms, create a routine and introduce calming rituals before bed.

Studies have shown that regular sleep routines have a positive effect on mood and actually reduce depressive symptoms over time.

Darkness and light are also very important in this. Other tricks that work for my clients include avoiding bright lights of TV, computers and overhead lights after 9pm as this allows you to get a better night’s sleep.

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From EXPRESS by Laura Mitchell

On Ending Your Relationship by Christmas

Has something about your relationship changed? Can you put your finger on what it is? Sometimes it’s obvious: perhaps your partner has cheated on you or their behaviour has become unacceptable, which makes it clear to you that the relationship needs to end. Other times, it’s more a subtle shift in the way you feel, which has happened over a period of time and you find yourself questioning whether you can really see yourself with them long term. It’s often the latter situation which is the hardest to deal with and can come as a surprise to your partner when you tell them it’s over.

When I trained to be a relationship counsellor, I was told the key in any relationship is communication. Good communication generally leads to good relationships, poor communication will likely lead to a poor relationship. We often avoid communicating how we feel for fear of hurting our partner’s feelings, feeling guilty or not wanting to deal with potential confrontation. So, we ‘drift’ on and for a while it seems ok. Nothing bad is happening, but nothing good is happening either.

Then a significant event, or significant time of the year is approaching and the quality of our relationship comes into view again. You may start asking yourself: Do I really want to spend Christmas with them, pretending everything is ok when it’s not? What about New Year’s Eve? Do I want to celebrate seeing the New Year in with them, when I know that I’m just about to dump them?

So, is there ever a good time to end a relationship? I don’t think there is a straightforward answer to that question. For myself, I would rather know that it’s over, than find myself questioning and reflecting afterward, whether they only stayed with me out of pity. Some however, would say that it’s cruel to break up just before Christmas, as it would spoil it for everyone. Whenever you choose, it’s never going to be easy. Breaking up is painful and emotional for both parties. There can be regret, sadness and guilt.

If you are considering ending your relationship before the festive season there are a few questions to ask yourself first:

1. Why did you fall in love with your partner in the first place?

Figure out if there are remnants of those feelings that can be rekindled if you focus on them.

2. Has the ‘love light’ switched off?

I think that love is like a pilot light, sometimes it is strong and vivid and you can clearly see it glowing. Sometimes it is low and subtle, but still burning. If the love light for your partner has switched off, it’s unlikely that it will switch on again.

3. Have you been sending subtle messages that your feelings have changed?

We are sending subliminal messages all the time, so perhaps your partner is far more aware than you think they are about your feelings, and it won’t be a surprise when you tell them you no longer love them.

4. What have you valued from your relationship with them?

All relationships help us learn more about ourselves and what’s important in a relationship to us. You clearly loved them once, share with them what you will always remember about the relationship, along with helping them understand what has changed and why your feelings for them have changed.

Remaining with someone when you no longer love them is unfair to them and to you. Everyone has the right to be happy and to be equally loved in a relationship. Ending a relationship is never easy, but it can be done with consideration, honesty and empathy… even if it’s just before Christmas.

What to do if you decide to break up

Rebecca McCann, a relationship therapist from Click For Therapy advises, “When you know your relationship has ended you know, and there’s very little you can do to convince yourself otherwise. The holiday season is difficult if you are in a relationship you don’t want to be in. So firstly be 100% sure that it’s what you want, otherwise if you end up getting back together this will be forever linked to Christmas.

“If you are totally sure then be honest, and think about the logistics. Think about where you will go for Christmas, what you will do, have a plan in your head before you end the relationship so that you don’t get pulled back in by logistics or your partner convincing you to stay just because its Christmas for example.

“A plan will help you to stay firm in your resolve. The other thing is make sure that you have someone you trust to spend the holidays with, this is part of being kind to yourself. You deserve to enjoy the season as much as you can, but you will need to extra TLC to do this so give yourself a break.”

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From: Cosmopolitan

I Didn’t Deserve The Pain You Put Me Through

Screw you for being too much of a coward to admit you had feelings for me. For worrying about how much I could hurt you in the future if you actually let yourself feel, so you decided to treat me like nothing instead. So you decided to push me away instead of pulling me closer. 

Screw you for letting your past get in the way of our future. For hating me for things that your ex did. For assuming I would hurt you in the same way that she did, even though I’m nothing like her. Even though I’ve proven to you that I’m someone different, someone worth your while. 

Screw you for getting scared off whenever I tried to get closer to you. For making me feel like I did something wrong, just by loving you. For convincing me that I was the problem, not you, never you. 

Screw you for calling me when you were drunk, when you had downed too many beers to think straight, instead of just being honest with yourself while sober. Screw you for only admitting you cared about me when you were six beers deep.

Screw you for lying about little things when you should have told the truth, because you wanted to keep a safe distance from me. Because you were worried about what would happen if you actually let me see the real, raw you. 

Screw you for hurting me ‘before I could hurt you.’ For thinking that our relationship was some sort of competition and refusing to be the loser. For bracing yourself for destruction instead of realizing that we could have actually had something great. 

Screw you for never giving us a chance. Because I’ve been hurt before, too. I could have blamed you for things my ex did. I could have let my fear chase me away from you.

But I didn’t. Because I was willing to take a risk to be with you. Because I genuinly cared about you. Apparently more than you cared about me.

I hate you for what you put me through. I hate you for making me fall and then leaving me to drop.

I didn’t deserve all of the pain you put me through. I didn’t deserve to be led on for months and then hear that you weren’t looking for a real relationship. I didn’t deserve to be strung along until you decided that you couldn’t handle me anymore.

But for some reason, none of the horrible things you’ve done have changed my feelings for you.

I still like you. I still want you.

So screw you for being so attractive, so intelligent, so much fun to flirt with. Screw you for making me want you, even long after you left. Screw you for being the one person I can’t stop thinking about.

Screw you for getting over me. Because I’m still not over you.

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From: Thought Catalog by Holly Riordan