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Do you feel like you’re at your wit’s end?

Are you tired of juggling home, work, and school?

Do you look at others and they seem to have it all together while you can’t figure it out?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you’re not alone. You may have finally gotten your schedules synchronized for the summer. Now it’s time for a “new normal” back to school. There are so many different scenarios around going to school this year. Nevertheless, having a plan containing structure as well as flexibility can keep you from jumping off the deep end.

Here are some strategies to help you keep your head above water as you handle virtual school while working.  

1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.

Over-communicate with the people in your life. Be clear and concise in your communication. Find out what is the best way to reach out to your child’s school/teacher (phone call, text, email, Class Dojo, etc.). Talk with your children. See how they are feeling about going back to school or having to attend school virtually. Have an honest conversation with your supervisor in order for them to be aware of your situation. With your spouse, articulate what you need and how you need them to assist the family during this time. For example: I need your help with the shopping or I need you to handle homework with the kids. In order to stay on track, have a weekly family meeting to plan for and discuss your schedules, activities, and meals for the upcoming week. 

2. Have Realistic Expectations.

The word, “unprecedented,” has been used many, many times to describe what we are experiencing. Our lives are not the way they were in the past. As a result, having realistic expectations of yourself and your family can minimize stress. Your spouse may not wash dishes or clothes the way you do, and that’s okay. Recognize the tasks of washing the dishes and/or clothes that are done. Even better, you didn’t have to do them

3. It’s Okay To Ask For Help.

Now is the time to lean on friends and family. Right now, families, in conjunction with friends, are creating educational co-ops. (Especially if the children are doing school virtually.) It allows families to rotate where the kids are week by week. You may have them this week, and they are with another family next week. Some families are enlisting grandparents to help with transportation to and from school or activities. You may consider hiring a family helper who will watch the kids after school, help with homework, and/or take them to afternoon activities. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength

4. Create A Schedule.

It is important to plan and prepare while also being open and flexible. Items you should consider including in your planning: child’s daily drop off and pick up times, time to sign in to class virtually, virtual daily class schedule, your work hours (any mandatory and/or scheduled meetings), lunch break, as well as your spouse’s work schedule (including meetings), meals planned for the week, extracurricular activities, and family time.

5. Be Mindful Of Your Stress Level.

Recognize the importance of managing your stress levels. Stress, whether it comes from work, parenting, or everyday life, can have negative effects on your mood and immune system. Seek ways to moderate your stress. These may include finding time for you to exercise (a walk in the park, a bike ride), getting the right amount of sleep, and eating a well-balanced diet. Utilizing your friends and family as support for you and your family also can minimize stress

In your wildest dreams, you probably never considered you would have to handle virtual school while being a working parent. Being productive during this season means using all the tools you have at your disposal (friends, family, co-workers, any additional resources). If this time has taught us anything, it is “we are better together.

Image from AdobeStock.com

Right now, days seem to run together, time has seemed to stand still, and the past 6 months have felt like an eternity and a split second all at once. Life before COVID-19 is becoming more and more of a distant memory… Were we ever actually allowed to go to the movie theater? Or the bowling alley? Or out on the town? This date night is all about bringing back those good-old classic date nights, only this time while in quarantine! Below are a bunch of typical first dates. Pick one (or more!) to do together, COVID-19 style! Be sure to take along the list of questions to ask each other during the date night, too!

QUESTIONS TO ASK ON YOUR DATE NIGHT:

  1. What has been the hardest part of quarantine/COVID-19/the past 6+ months?
  2. What has been one good thing to happen recently?
  3. Do you think we’ve gotten closer or further apart over the past few months?
  4. What do you miss the most about the date nights we used to go on?
  5. If you could have one thing back that you haven’t been able to do since COVID-19, what would it be? Why?
  6. What’s one thing the two of us can do to help us/our family adjust better to our situation right now?
  7. What did you not miss while in quarantine?
  8. What’s one thing I can do to help you feel more stable/secure in the next week?
  9. How would you describe this time to our future kids/grandkids?
  10. What has been the weirdest part of quarantine/COVID-19/the past 6+ months?

DATE NIGHTS TO CHOOSE FROM:

GLOW IN THE DARK BOWLING:

Supply List:

  • 9 Water bottles
  • 9-18 Glow sticks (depending on size)
  • A soccer ball or similar ball
  • Blacklight (totally optional, but really fun!)
  • Tacky 80’s pop playlist (also optional, but really fun!)

Instructions:

  • Open up the water bottles.
  • Crack and shake the glowsticks to activate them.
  • Drop 1-2 glow sticks in each of the water bottles and put the lids back on.
  • Arrange the water bottles in a triangle like bowling pins.
  • Take turns trying to knock down all 9 water bottles with the soccer ball!
  • Keep score of number of “pins” knocked over.
  • The first to 100 wins!

MOVIE AT THE THEATER:

Supply List:

  • TV or Projector
  • Movie or streaming service
  • All your favorite theater snacks & drinks!
  • Cozy blankets
  • Blanket fort (optional)

Instructions:

  • Make/buy all your movie theater snacks (don’t forget to butter the popcorn!).
  • Make a blanket fort (optional, but takes it to the next level!)
  • Decide on a movie. Here are some ideas…
    • Research movies that came out the year you or your partner was born, the year you got married/started dating, or a random year of your choosing. Then watch the first movie you can find from that year!
    • Pick out 10 different movies. Assign them numbers 1-10 (or do alphabetical order). Have your partner pick a number 1-10, and watch that movie!
    • Grab a pair of dice. You roll one, and your partner rolls another.
      • Your Dice: 1: Rom-Com, 2: Mystery, 3: Action, 4: Drama, 5: Historical, 6: Adventure
      • Dice 2: 1. Starts with A, 2: Starts with T, 3: Starts with S, 4: Starts with M, 5: Starts with N, 6: Starts with R
  • Snuggle up to your partner and enjoy your in-house theater!

“THRIFT” SHOPPING:

Supply List:

  • Your clothes closet or dresser

Instructions:

When’s the last time you went through your clothes? If you’ve got pieces from the 90’s stuffed in the back of your closet, this date night will be a fun one for you. Set a timer for 7 minutes. You go to your partner’s closet/dresser/wherever clothes are kept, and your partner will go to yours. Your goal is to find the oldest/funniest/craziest outfit possible for your partner to wear for the rest of this date night! Go all-out with watches, purses, socks, jewelry, etc.

Once you have an outfit picked out, you and your partner have to wear them for the rest of the date night! Pick another activity on this list to keep the fun going.

ENJOY A CONCERT:

Supply List:

  • Your favorite band t-shirt
  • Stadium food (go all-out with nachos, pizza, etc!)
  • A recorded live video of your favorite band (take a look on YouTube! A lot of artists have put together live videos for their fans to watch at home!)

Instructions:

So live concerts are off the table for date nights this year… But what if you enjoyed them from home instead? Since March, a lot of popular artists have put up or created live shows for their fans to enjoy from the safety of their own home! Just look up your favorite artist on YouTube and search “live full concert.” Be sure this date night turns into a dance party, too!

INDOOR MINI-GOLF:

Supply List:

  • Golf clubs (use a broomstick if you don’t have clubs!)
  • Golf balls
  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Plastic cups
  • DIY obstacle course (get creative with stuff from around your house!)

Instructions:

  • Set up your obstacle course on a carpeted area of your home (or lay down blankets if you don’t have carpet!) Here are some creative ideas to get you started:
    • You can use an open, upside down 3-ring binder to create a “hill” to go over,
    • Line up pens/pencils or books to create a pathway/funnel,
    • Use a chair or table as a “tunnel” it has to go through,
    • Crumple a blanket on the floor to make a “sand pit,”
    • More great ideas here!
  • Place a plastic cup on its side at the very end of the course.
  • Keep count of the number of hits it takes to get the ball into the plastic cup at the end of the course.
  • Take turns trying to get the ball through the obstacle course in as few hits as possible!

Want more at-home date ideas? Check out our ultimate list here!

Want to take date night up a notch?

DISCOVER A DEEPER LEVEL OF INTIMACY IN THE MIDST OF UNCERTAINTY WITH HOT LOVE.

This premium on-demand virtual date night guides you and your spouse to learn the secrets to growing deep intimacy. You’ll work together to learn…

  • Tools to reframe your mindset
  • Ways to discover and remove roadblocks to intimacy
  • Strategies for turning up the temperature

2020 might be the year everyone wants to escape from and/or forget for so many reasons. This means we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that many of us are looking for ways to escape the pain and fear. One of the escapes that has seen a dramatic increase in use during the coronavirus pandemic is porn. 

A variety of sources report a 16 to 30% increase in use in the U.S. since March. India reports a 95% increase. Pornhub, the world’s largest pornography website, reported an 18% increase in users after making its premium content free for 30 days. 

To give you some perspective, check out these porn usage statistics from 2018 tabulated by Webroot Cybersecurity:

  • Every second, 28,258 users are watching pornography.
  • $3,075.64 is spent on porn every second on the internet.
  • 40 million Americans regularly visit porn sites.

Let those stats sink in for a second. Staggering to say the least.

Coronavirus and Porn

In a Psychology Today article, Dr. Justin Lehmiller explains that the coronavirus pandemic is affecting not just the amount and type of porn being produced. It’s also affecting how much porn people are consuming and what they’re searching for on major sites. According to Lehmiller, people are not just searching for porn, either. In one month’s time there were more than 9 million searches for coronavirus-related or pandemic porn, as in people wearing masks, surgical gloves and gowns engaging in sex.

He explains that porn searches are up, in part, because a lot of people are at home with more time on their hands than usual. But, he and other experts say there are other potential reasons for increased porn site visits. Some of those reasons include using sex as a coping mechanism for dealing with fear of disease and death, plus loneliness and the dramatic increase in experiencing anxiety, stress and negative emotions.

The Impact of Porn Addiction

So what about this “gift” that Pornhub has given to people, married, single or even teens, in the midst of COVID-19? The truth about porn is, most people don’t realize how pornography reaches out and grabs people. Research shows that when a person sees pornography, the brain releases endorphins that are 200 times more potent than morphine and more addictive than cocaine. They also give you an enormous false sense of well-being. Fight the New Drug likens it to eating junk food. It seems like it is really good and satisfies you in the moment. However, it actually leaves you wanting more and never feeling full.

Additionally, research consistently indicates that pornography use can hurt a couple’s relationship. This is especially true when one person is frequently viewing pornographic images online.

In an open letter discussing the dangers of porn, Drs. Julie and John Gottman argue that intimacy for couples is a source of connection and communication between two people. But when one person becomes accustomed to getting pleasure from porn, they are actually turning away from intimate interaction. Second, when watching pornography the user is in total control of the sexual experience, in contrast to normal sex in which people are sharing control. Thus a porn user may form the unrealistic expectation that sex will be under only one person’s control. Third, the porn user may expect that their partner will always be immediately ready for intercourse. Pornography can also lead to a decrease in relationship trust and a higher likelihood of affairs outside the relationship. 

Here are some red flags that may indicate your spouse is involved in this highly addictive activity.

  • Is their body language open and does he/she respond appropriately when you ask questions? Does your spouse look you in the eyes when he/she talks to you? One lie often leads to another. You may ask a simple question and get a very complicated answer or an answer that was different than the day before.
  • Does your spouse have appropriate boundaries? They seem to live in drama and chaos all the time. They may ask you to record yourself or take pictures of you getting out of the shower or at intimate moments. 
  • Does your spouse use lots of sexual humor and innuendos, even when the conversation has nothing to do with that subject?
  • Is your spouse preoccupied with sexual behaviors? Is he/she constantly wanting to push the boundaries and experiment sexually in ways that make you wonder where they got the idea from? 
  • Does he/she exhibit inappropriate anger? This anger appears to come from nowhere. For example, if you ask about household cash flow or what time they will be home, he/she explodes. 
  • Have they lost interest in you sexually? Or has their demand for sexual activity increased, although they seem to be “elsewhere” in the midst of sex? If so, sex at this point is not about intimacy. Instead, it’s about control and power and what he/she can get you to do. 
  • Do you seem to constantly have money problems? No matter how much money you have coming in, there just is never enough to cover the expenses.   

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic and people being quarantined, many have commented on how they really didn’t realize how much they really needed in-person, face-to-face experiences for their emotional wellbeing. The research is clear: while a person may be using porn as a coping mechanism, the thirst for it is insatiable. And it still leaves them feeling empty, unfulfilled and needing more.  

Helpful Resources

If you or someone you love is struggling with porn addiction, the Fight the New Drug and The Addiction Center sites may help you determine best next steps.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Build an Unbreakable Marriage Right from the Start! 

(And get a discount* on your marriage license at the same time!)

Preparing for Marriage is an online course that will guide you and your bae on a journey to build a solid foundation for your marriage! From communication to intimacy, conflict to in-laws, we unpack 8 fun and fast-paced lessons in short videos that will provide you with all the essential tools to create a thriving marriage.

Plus you’ll have access to healthy relationship experts, Reggie & Lauren, by email every step of the way to answer any questions or just give you a little encouragement!


*Must live in a qualifying state where a discount is offered on your marriage license for completing premarital education or counseling.

What is your teen asking you about the future? Do you have answers?

“What am I gonna do about school and soccer, Dad?” my 14-year-old son asked me. I didn’t know. I’d been asking myself the same questions for weeks and didn’t have any answers. It feels like new information comes out every day that undermines my decisions. Everything feels tentative. The future feels like a collection of shreds and patches. 

The last few months have left the foreseeable teen future uncertain. Your teen may be feeling a lot of anxiety: What will school look like? Will I be able to get a part-time job, play sports, play my favorite instrument in the band? What about prom and graduation?

And don’t forget their favorite part of school—seeing their friends. There’s so much unknown for them to process.

Don’t forget, they are old enough to wonder about your adult future and the family’s future. You may feel secure about your job situation, your finances, the health of family members—and something like divorce may be totally out of the question. This doesn’t stop your teen from worrying about those things.

All of these unknowns can easily translate into anxiety, stress, and depression for your teenager. (They can for us adults, too.)

When it comes to the important things in life, we all prefer certainty to uncertainty. But our adult brains are developmentally better suited to live with some uncertainty than our teen’s brain is. Their brain is still developing and processing so many unknowns (that they are invested in) can be particularly difficult for them. How can we help them?

[Read this blog that describes what is happening to teens developmentally.]

1. Model The Behaviors And Attitudes You Want For Your Teen

  • Self-Care: Tending to your physical health and emotional health.
  • Mindfulness: Deep breaths. Self-awareness. Focus. 
  • Critical Thinking: Decisions based on the most reliable information.
  • Optimism: “We are going to come out on the other side even stronger.”
  • Resilience: “We are going to take it one day at a time as a family.”
  • Gratitude: “We still have a lot to be thankful for…”
  • Service: “How can we help others who are struggling?” 

These are all things that your young adult needs to navigate uncertainties they will encounter as future adults.

2. Acknowledge When The Future Is Unknown & When You Just Don’t Know

We want to have answers for our teens and they often expect us to have them. It can be tempting to try to “fake it” or give the answer we think will make them feel better in the moment. Besides being disingenuous, in the long run, it will undermine their confidence in you. You don’t want to be seen as a source of false hope and misinformation.

It is totally appropriate (and honest) to admit it when we don’t know. Saying something like, “I don’t have enough information yet to confidently make a wise decision about that,” doesn’t undermine your trustworthiness and reliability; It enhances it. Your teen can relax (hopefully) and know that when you do make a decision it will be based on the best information and what’s best for the family.

3. Become A Student Of Your Teen 

Be on the lookout for the ways your teen might be struggling with anxiety and stress and depression. A very talkative teen may become quiet. A very quiet teen might become talkative. A normally social teen may become withdrawn. A teen that normally keeps to themselves might suddenly become a social butterfly. Look for any changes in their normal behavior. 

Keep in mind that sometimes teens deal with difficult emotions in unhealthy ways. Be on the lookout for outbursts, disrespect, risky, or harmful behavior. Watch their eating and sleeping habits. As you address their behavior, be sure to address what the real issue may be underneath it.

4. Be Open And Create Space For Your Teen To Express Their Anxiety

Teens will often “show” you when they are struggling before they will “tell” you they are struggling, but there are things you can do to keep the lines of communication open:

  • Make sure your teen knows you have an “open door” policy and that they can talk to you about anything, anytime.
  • Take advantage of car rides and other times you are alone with your teen that don’t feel like you are angling for a “big talk.” Teens often open up when you are doing something else, like cooking or watching television.
  • It’s okay to ask questions like, “How are you feeling about school this year?Then practice active listening skills.
  • Don’t “freak out” at what you hear. Keep that poker face.
  • Don’t ask a million questions, probe gently, empathize, and be a good listener.

5. Recognize When You Are Out Of Your Depth And Get Your Teen Help

Anxiety, stress, depression, and anger are significant and often complex problems—especially in the lives of teens. It is totally appropriate and necessary for you as a parent to recognize when you have reached the limits of how you can help your teen. Don’t stop there. Reach out for help. Contact a counselor.

The unknown is, well, unknown. It is normal to experience fear and anxiety concerning the unknown. There are lots of things that your teen cares deeply about that are just flat out up in the air at the moment. Don’t feel bad that you can’t make the unknown “knowable” for your teen. Model how to face the unknown, be there for your teen, and keep putting one foot in front of the other until the unknown becomes known.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made things very uncertain right now, and your kids can sense it. The good news is, you can help your child navigate through the unknown.

As we approach the school year, many parents, perhaps like you, must make the choice of whether to have their children attend school in a face-to-face format, online, or a combination. And even if your kids do grace the halls of their school this year, things will be different, with teachers (and possibly students) wearing masks, social distancing measures, and a heavier concentration on sanitizing (to say the least). 

Schools are planning the best way they know how to provide both safety and a quality education this year for kids, but let’s face it: we’ve never been in this situation before, and there’s no standard operating procedure in place for this. 

All this adds up to the fact that you and your kids face a great unknown in a few short weeks. Just what will this school year be like? It’s a question of uncertainty

As adults, we know what it is to go through those seasons where you don’t know what’s going to happen, and many of us still feel a sense of anxiety during times like these. 

But for children, the uncertainty of what their school year will be like can be especially distressing. And though they may feel an extra measure of anxiety and stress from facing that unknown, you can help your child through it. 

So what can you do to help your child work through this season of uncertainty? 

1. Acknowledge the unknown to your child.

Open up the conversation with your child about not knowing exactly how the school year is going to go. Explain to them whether there’s a decision to be made, and what that may look like in terms they can understand. 

Avoid having decision-making conversations with your child present or asking them what they would choose. Chances are, they will tell you what they would prefer; however, there are factors they cannot understand, and to them, their decision-making is permanent. They need to know that the final decision comes from you, the parent. As a parent, you have to educate yourself and decide what is right for your family. Keep in mind the decision you ultimately make could change based on new information, and you’ll want to let your child know that. 

★ Depending on their age, express the idea of the unknown in language that says, “Because COVID-19 is still a concern, school is going to look different this year. This is the decision I/we have made as your parent(s), because, right now, we think it’s best for our whole family. We hope things won’t change with our decision, but if they do, then we have to figure out the next best thing. But even if we don’t know what it’s going to be like, we are going to be okay, and we are going to get through this together. I’m here to help you through all of it. We aren’t just going to survive—we are going to thrive!” 

2. Don’t “pre-purchase” anxiety.

After reading the first bullet point, you may be nervous that you are injecting a huge dose of shock and anxiety in your child. And of course, they might be at least somewhat apprehensive; that’s to be expected. But don’t let this shake you. Talking about it helps your child process the idea of not knowing what to expect and builds resilience to the stress of unknown situations as they grow.

The important thing to remember is to check your own anxiety at the door. Children follow the cues for anxiety, stress, and depression from their parents (that’s you), and if you are freaking out over an uncertain school year, you are “pre-purchasing” anxiety for your child. It’s okay for you to feel a certain amount of distress for your kids; just remember they are looking to you as a model for regulating emotions and handling their fear. 

3. Normalize what they’re feeling.

Let them know that how they are feeling about the uncertainty of the school year is okay. You don’t want them to feel ashamed or abnormal because of any kind of anxiety or fear they may have. The key is not to fix their emotions, but to help them work through them. Encourage them to identify what they are feeling: Do you feel scared? Nervous? Angry? Keep in mind that they may not know how to articulate what they are feeling. Help them put some words to the emotions. When you can name something, then you can begin to work through it. 

4. Identify what your kids can control.

Anxiety and stress often come from a feeling of losing control. So, helping your kids understand what you can control in the midst of the unknown helps to alleviate those negative emotions. For example, they can ask for help anytime. They can come and talk to you if they are feeling overwhelmed. They can stay organized with their school work. And they can take care of themselves.

★ Additionally, be sure to establish a routine at home when the school year begins. Keep regular meal times and bedtime routines. Routines and structure help give kids a sense of consistency, security, and control, especially in the midst of uncertainty

5. Coach your kids in doing self-care.

Doing intentional things to care for themselves may be your child’s best tool to work through the fear of uncertainty. But this isn’t necessarily natural to them; you’ll have to guide them on a daily basis. Encourage them to get some kind of outside time each day. Help them to go to bed at a decent hour and get plenty of rest each night. (According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children between the ages of 6 and 12 need 9 to 12 hours of sleep each night.) Set a limit on screen time, too. Intentional self-care helps uncertain times seem less daunting.   

Times are definitely uncertain. But one thing we do know: this won’t be the only time your children face the unknown. There is a bigger picture here. Life is full of unpredictability. What we teach them now about how to handle uncertain times will go with them into adulthood. And let’s be honest: the unknown of the school year ahead is survivable. You can manage it. And your child will get through it. Helping your child through this unknown will help them strengthen their resilience and grit for a lifetime. 

Image from Pexels.com

COVID-19 has most likely contributed to the longest ongoing uncertainty people have dealt with in, well, maybe ever.

Should I send my children to school?

Will I have a job tomorrow?

Is the economy going to make it?

Are we going to lose our home?

If I get COVID-19, will I survive?

Will things ever be normal again?

These are just some of the questions we are wrestling with as we try to create a sense of normalcy for ourselves and others.

The hard truth is, even when we are living our best lives, there’s a great deal of uncertainty. Anything could happen in the next moment that could throw our lives into complete chaos. The difference is, it’s not as in your face as COVID-19.

So, short of throwing in the towel, how do you deal with the ongoing uncertainty?

In Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl describes being separated from his wife in the concentration camps. Everything he owned was taken from him, including the manuscript for his book. As he shared what it was like living one day to the next with no idea whether his wife was still alive or whether that day would be his last day, he says he realized that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s own attitude in any given set of circumstances—to choose one’s own way.

Frankl says, “In order to live a meaningful life, we have to identify what is meaningful to us in every moment. There is a kind of mindfulness to meaning—a level of focused attention where we must focus on identifying what we find meaningful.” 

Straight out of the gates, it seems like we all have the opportunity to deal with uncertainty. It starts with two things. We can decide what is most meaningful to us. AND we can choose the attitude with which we will engage the days ahead. Making decisions about both of these things will anchor us in our journey and give us a mindset for everything else we need to do.

Other strategies for dealing with uncertainty include:

  • Making plans, but holding them loosely. Everybody would like to be able to make a decision about school and be done with it. In this particular moment though, that is probably not how things will roll. So, making a plan, but including a couple of alternatives can help decrease the out of control feelings uncertainty often brings. 
  • Doing what you will wish you had done. Sounds a bit crazy, but these are difficult times. Often when we look back on a time when we struggled, we will say, “I wish I had just gone with my gut and…” It is easy to second guess yourself, but seriously, looking back 10 years from now, what will you wish you had done?
  • Paying attention to your mental health and the mental health of those around you. Back to the attitude thing. Our brains have a natural tendency to go negative, especially when the going gets tough. You or the ones you love may really be struggling at the moment. Surround yourself with supportive people. Seek help if you just can’t seem to shake feeling down and depressed all the time.
  • Giving yourself permission to feel what you feel. Write down your emotions: frustrated, tired, irritable, abandoned, isolated, anxious, lonely, bored, confused, inadequate, jealous. None of these are bad in and of themselves. How you choose to respond to these feelings can either help you move forward or make your life more complicated. 
  • Making a list of all the things you actually have control over. Even if you did this early on, do it again. It’s a good and helpful brain exercise. Remember, your brain believes what you tell it. If you are constantly talking about everything being out of control, your brain believes you and acts accordingly. Feeling out of control creates fear, and our body responds to fear by creating adrenaline and cortisol. Research shows that the long-term activation of the stress-response system and overexposure to stress hormones can disrupt almost all of your body’s processes. It affects your ability to think clearly, make decisions, sleep and  literally function on a daily basis.
  • Considering things you can do to create some consistency in your daily living. Routines, rituals, consistency and structure help us feel more secure, especially in times of extreme uncertainty. Little things like going to bed and getting up at the same time every day or planning your meals can make a major impact on your well-being.
  • Enlisting the help of others. Once you have given some thought to your mindset and the attitude with which you want to engage life right now, ask friends, family members and/or co-workers to encourage you in your efforts. Ask them to help you be accountable for how you have decided to embrace the uncertainty, too.
  • Showing yourself some grace. You can do all of the things above and still have some really hard days. Instead of beating yourself up, acknowledge how hard it is. Cry if you need to, journal, go for a run—whatever it takes to help you process through it. The good news is, you know the direction you want to head and you can get back on track putting one foot in front of the other.

When you are lost and using a compass to figure out where you are, the needle may shake a bit, but it always finds north.

The road ahead may be shaky and full of twists and turns, but working through some of these strategies for dealing with uncertainty can help you find your north again. That way, you can keep on keeping on.

Image from Unsplash.com

It’s nothing new to disagree with the ones you love, whether it’s about current events, religion, guns, racism, politics, football or something else. In fact, chances are pretty good that you completely disagree on certain topics with someone you care deeply about. The disagreements may be so intense you wonder how you can actually co-exist. 

The level of intensity might feel more so at this moment in time in our culture. In fact, many people can hardly believe that the people they love have such different perspectives from their own. The ongoing stress from trying to navigate these issues can take a massive toll on our relationships.

FOR REAL.

What do you do when you strongly disagree with the ones you love?

Although you might be tempted to confront them and tell them they are just plain wrong, you might want to reconsider. That plan probably won’t go very well for you because it’s likely your loved one will feel attacked. Nobody wants to feel attacked, right?

Instead, start by asking yourself a few questions.

What’s the goal of my conversation with this person?

Do I just want to share information?

Am I trying to understand their perspective?

Do I feel the need to convince them they are wrong?

Am I trying to prove that I have a valid point?

Do I have to WIN?

Taking the time to think about your ultimate goal can help you prepare to constructively engage with them.

It may help to remember that no matter how hard you try, you cannot change someone else or make them see something the very same way that you do. Yelling at them, belittling them, coming across as condescending, stomping out of the room or being sarcastic will only fuel the fire. And it will take you further away from your intended goal.

Plenty of married couples, extended family, siblings and roommates have vehemently disagreed about things, yet their love and respect for each other was never in question. How you have the discussion matters.

Here are some tips you can use to make your conversations productive:

  1. Look for things you do agree on. It is likely that you agree on far more than you disagree about. 
  2. Kindness and respect goes a long way when trying to discuss difficult topics. Be aware of your tone of voice and body language.
  3. Avoid imagining how you think the conversation will go or how it has gone in the past. Playing negative scenarios in your head will actually increase your stress. It could also steer the conversation downhill straight out of the gates.
  4. Be prepared to genuinely listen to their perspective—even if you already believe you don’t agree with them and can’t fathom how they could believe what they believe. When people feel heard, you are more likely to keep the conversation going and avoid damaging your relationship. **PRO-TIP: Paraphrase what you hear and avoid using the word, “but.” Using “but” negates everything that the other person just said. Try using “and” instead.**
  5. If it feels like the conversation is becoming heated, remember that getting louder will escalate the situation for sure. Plus, it actually makes it harder to hear what is being said. If you’re struggling to think clearly or keep your cool, take a break. Say you need to go to the bathroom or you need to get a drink of water—anything to take a break in the action and allow yourselves time to breathe. Pausing is powerful.
  6. Avoid using “You always, you never,” and “You should.” Instead, focus on yourself and share your perspective while using “I” statements (I feel, I believe, I want, I need, etc.).

These are particularly stressful times, and when you disagree with the ones you love, IT’S HARD.

This means that many of us are experiencing extended periods of heightened anxiety and are constantly in a fight or flight mode—which is totally not normal. Fuses are shorter and we are probably more easily irritated. And, we may react more quickly, especially if we’ve been thinking or dwelling on the topic at hand. Acknowledge this and think through the fact that how we handle difficult conversations can impact the quality of our relationships. 

It’s vital to remember that this is a process. If over time the conversation seems to go nowhere, you may need to set boundaries around this topic in an effort to keep from destroying the relationship. Keep in mind that if you choose to walk away from the relationship, you will no longer have the opportunity to present a different perspective.

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Why Does My Family Ignore Me?

Try these tips to find out what you may be able to do about it.

It hurts when you feel like your family is ignoring you.

We hope for and expect our family to stick together. But your family isn’t including you. Whether you’re left out of a group text, not invited to an event, or completely estranged… you could be experiencing anxiety, depression, and loneliness.  Physical problems like sleep and appetite loss could be plaguing you. If so, please make self-care a priority and consider seeking professional help.


So many questions and emotions.

When you feel ignored, it can be damaging.

These relationships have suffered an injury or have become diseased. Like a doctor would handle a physical health problem, we have to rule some things out to cover all the bases. Here are some things to be thinking through:

  • Is it possible they aren’t ignoring you on purpose, but you feel left out anyway? 
  • Is it possible you’ve said or done something that offended some family members and you haven’t realized it?
  • Have you been trying to communicate with these family members? 
  • Does your family do a lot of their communicating and planning get-togethers on social media… and you are not active in that particular arena?

RESOLUTION AND RESTORATION ARE IMPORTANT. DON’T RULE THEM OUT.

In 2018, a Pew Research Center survey asked, “Where do you find meaning in life?” The clear, number one answer was “family” at 69%. This was more than double the next highest answer, which was “career.” In other words, family is at the core of where most people find meaning in life. So if there is static in that part of your life, there’s a good chance that your whole life feels off-kilter. 

You can try to work toward a resolution.

Maybe you’ve thought through the above scenarios or possible explanations… but you still don’t have peace of mind or clarity. If there’s any chance you said or did something that offended a family member, there’s one place to go for answers… your family. 

You can try to be direct but non-confrontational with family members.

Either there is nothing there and you’re worrying over nothing or something IS there. Use “I” statements like, “I feel like I’m being ignored by family. Did I do something? I want to make it right,” as opposed to “You” statements like, “Why are you ignoring me? Why won’t you reach out to me? Why are you leaving me out?” The difference is between opening a productive dialogue and making an accusation.

You can try to find a mediator between you and your family.

Ideally, the mediator should be a neutral party… one that everyone involved knows and can trust won’t be taking sides. They can keep the conversation productive. They can also help everyone understand what people are feeling and communicating. The person mediating should work to de-escalate emotions, ease tensions, and ease communication.

IF YOU’VE WORKED TOWARD RESOLUTION WITH NO SUCCESS, HERE ARE SOME NEXT STEPS.

  1. Come to terms with what you can and can’t control.
  2. Take care of yourself physically. This includes diet, sleep, and exercise.
  3. Stay in touch with your feelings and emotions. Try journaling.
  4. Cultivate a support system. Have friends and mentors in your life to whom you can vent. Let them support you and help you process emotions.
  5. Get professional help. Resentment, anger, anxiety, and depression are serious.

You can’t control your family, but you can control how you take care of yourself. There’s no telling what the future holds, but for now, move forward with your life. Be your best self.

Other helpful resources:

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