There are many herbs that can help us cool off on hot and humid days – whether by cooling and relaxing our tissues, helping open our pores to release heat, or by bringing extra moisture into our bodies. Here’s a list of 5 Cooling Herbs to beat the heat this summer and how to prepare them at home.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMay 26, 2022 clinical herbalist, clinical herbalist pittsburgh, herbalism, herbalist pittsburgh, holistic health, holistic medicine, integrative health, integrative medicine, integrative mental health, self care, Uncategorized0 comments
- Hibiscus has bright and luscious flowers that are enjoyed as a cooling beverage throughout the world. The taste is tangy, sour, and slightly astringent. I highly recommend trying this one iced and sweetened with a bit of honey!Also – If you happen to have Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus, a common landscaping bush) growing in your yard – good news! This is a variety of hibiscus and the flowers can also be enjoyed as tea. Just make sure your plants are not sprayed with chemical pesticides! Iced Hibiscus Tea: Add ¼ C hibiscus flowers to a quart jar and fill with boiling water. Let steep for 30 minutes, add honey to sweeten, and chill in the refrigerator.
- Marshmallow Root: A cousin to hibiscus and yes, the namesake of the fluffy white confections that we enjoy in s’mores, Marshmallow is a wonderful herb to cool and moisten overly hot and dry tissues. Marshmallow contains “mucilage”, a lubricating compound that soothes and cools our the tissues of our body, particularly our respiratory, digestive, and urinary tract systems. This beverage is best prepared with cool or room temperature water and has an earthy and sweet taste. Marshmallow Infusion: Use ¼ C sifted marshmallow roots to a quart jar of cool or room temperature water. Let steep for 4 hours (or overnight), strain, and add ice and a bit of maple syrup.
- Rose: Did you know that roses are also medicinal and a lovely, cooling herb? Both the rose petals and the rose hips (the “fruit” of the rose) are edible and full of vitamin C. The petals are floral, sweet, and slightly astringent, and the rosehips are more tangy and sour. I love adding a small handful of rose petals to my water bottle in the summer time for a nice gentle and uplifting floral flavor. My other favorite preparation is a rose petal simple syrup (described below). If you have roses growing in your yard, you can use them as long as you don’t spray chemical pesticides or herbicides. Do not use commercially grown roses that you buy in the store as these almost always contain harmful chemical residues! Rose Petal Simple Syrup: Combine 1 C of rose petals, 1 C of sugar, and 2 C of water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let steep for 1 – 4 hours. Strain and store in the refrigerator! Add rose syrup to cocktails or sparkling water.
- Lemon Balm, one of the most bright, sweet, and sunny tasting herbs around, is from the mint family. This beautiful and aromatic herb uplifts the spirit and calms a restless heart. The physical effects are gentle and cooling, slightly sour and bitter. Lemon balm can be brewed as a regular tea infusion, or made into a “Sun Tea”. Lemon Balm Sun Tea: Pack a quart jar full of fresh lemon balm, or use ½ – 1 C of dried lemon balm. Fill with water, cover and place out in the sun all day long. After you strain, this tea can be chilled in the refrigerator and stored for 2 – 3 days.
- Raspberry leaf is high in vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes, making it like a natural gatorade. It’s a well known ally for people that menstruate and pregnant folks, due to the high levels of iron and calcium and its action as a uterine tonic. The leaves are not quite as sweet and tart as the raspberry fruit, but they still contain a subtle tanginess that can be quite enjoyable! Raspberry iced tea: Pour 2 C boiling water over 1 tbsp of dried raspberry leave. Steep for 10 – 15 minutes, strain, add honey and chill in the refrigerator. To obtain more minerals and vitamins, infuse and steep overnight!
Written by: Clinical Herbalist Annie Fox Derek.
If you’re interested in working with Annie you can reach us at 412-322-2129 or contact us here.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMay 12, 2022 borderline personality disorder, BPD, BPD Relationships0 comments
There has been a lot of recent media attention surrounding Borderline Personality Disorder—Pete Davidson has been open about his diagnosis and more recently Amber Heard was evaluated to have Borderline Personality Disorder by a forensic psychologist who was hired by Johnny Depp’s legal team. We hope to show you the positive side of Borderline Personality Disorder and offer recommendations on loving someone with Borderline Personality Disorder and making your BPD relationships brighter and healthier.
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) can have features that include fear of abandonment, patterns of unstable relationships, rapid changes in self-image, and risky behavior.
With the pervasive nature of these mental health symptoms, treatment is essential, which includes a solid support network.
If you are a friend, family member, or partner of someone with BPD, you are probably well aware of the relationship challenges. Also, keep in mind those with BPD can (often unbeknownst to themselves) create the issues that cause abandonment, which they may fear the most.
Aside from these challenges, having a loved one with BPD can be enriching and rewarding. We can easily cite the positive aspects and we’ve frequently been motivated by the inspiring love for their passions. Their enthusiasm for life can be very contagious. They can offer dark humor and quick wit when you need to be cheered up from your own negative emotions.
In our experiences with clients and loved ones with BPD, we wanted to share some insight — patience and empathy are the foundation for mutual growth.
We hope to offer some recommendations that can make BPD relationships brighter and healthier:
- First and most importantly, realize there are limits and boundaries to every relationship. Give and take isn’t always 50/50, but the relationship does not stay healthy if one’s time and energy is on a pattern of depletion.
- Clear communication of wants and needs are essential. Make sure you have your desires established early into the relationship, while also respecting those of your partner.
- Individual treatment. For your loved one, appropriate therapy is ideal. This clinician should be experienced in personality disorders. Even more importantly, this clinician should focus on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). DBT is a therapy specifically devised for Borderline individuals that focuses on healthier coping and inward reflection. To manage your emotions properly, consider therapy for yourself.
- Research and learning. Receiving this diagnosis can be overwhelming for the patient as well as their support network. Finding out a loved one has a BPD diagnosis can bring up an array of questions. Make sure you educate yourself using reputable resources.
- Self-care. Both you and your loved one need care and balance; it is highly important to carve time for yourself. Your health is just as crucial as those around you.
- Support in any relationship is crucial, but even more so to those living with BPD. Look into joining a “Friends and Family” DBT support group online.
- Be Aware of Love Languages. Part of BPD in relationships is fear of abandonment, and small gestures can go a long way. Find your love languages and keep these in mind when you want to express appreciation.
- Words of Affirmation: Telling the person they are loved or giving sincere compliments even via text.
- Gifts: Thoughtful doesn’t have to mean expensive; think about their special interests or even delivering them a treat.
- Quality Time: One-on-one, no phones/no distractions. Be present with each other.
- Acts of Service: Schedule time to work on tasks they find overwhelming, even if you find it mundane.
- Physical Touch: Even close proximity can express to your BPD loved one that you are near and dear.
The emotional connections we have in life take thoughtful cultivation. There is work required in every relationship, but elevated patience and effort are needed when it comes to those with personality disorders. We encourage you to have open conversations with loved ones with any and all mental health needs so that you can discover more joy.
Pruthi, S. Borderline Personality Disorder. (2022, May) The Mayo Clinic.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 7, 2022 boundaries, communication, conflict resolution, conversations for couples, educational, emotional intelligence, how to say no, personal growth, relationship, relationship conflict, relationship resolutions, self care, stress management0 comments
You may have heard that boundaries in relationships are good and worthwhile. Understandably you might have some questions about boundaries such as what are they? How do I set a boundary? How do I communicate a boundary? How do I enforce a boundary? Is there any flexibility to boundaries? I will answer all of these questions for you because as a licensed marriage and family therapist I am professionally and personally invested in people having the healthiest relationships they can for as long as it makes sense.
I would like to start with some warnings at the outset: boundaries are difficult, people often react negatively to them, and relationships can get worse before getting better when you challenge a person even if it is for the best. Here’s the thing: despite how it might feel, setting boundaries in a relationship shows that you care deeply about the relationship because it’s a difficult thing to do. People generally don’t expend the energy to do such challenging relationship work with persons they have no intention of maintaining a relationship with. A boundary communicates that you want to keep the person in your life and gives them clear guidance on how that can happen.
Boundaries vs. Rules
First, it is important to specify what a boundary is and what it isn’t. A boundary is about you and what you will/will not or can/can not do. When you try to make a boundary about someone else and what they will/will not or can/cannot do, that is a rule and is actually a disempowering position. You do not have control over others, but you do have control over yourself. For example, “Hey, Uncle so-and-so, you can’t say racist things at Thanksgiving dinner” is a rule that is hard to enforce because Uncle so-and-so can choose to ignore that rule and say racist things anyway. Now what? Repeat yourself? Get into a verbal altercation over Thanksgiving dinner? Not ideal, right? However, if instead you say, “Hey, Uncle so-and-so, if you continue to say racist things at Thanksgiving dinner I will leave” Uncle so-and-so can choose to violate your request but there are now consequences that you control for that choice.
4 Steps To Set Boundaries in Relationships
- Identify how you want to interact in this relationship and/or how you don’t want to interact in this relationship. This is the boundary you are setting.
- Communicate the boundary to the person the boundary applies to directly. By the way, it’s not enough to simply say it. Effective communication and therefore effective boundary-setting involves confirming that the person received the appropriate message. This is as simple as asking, “What is it you just heard me say?” The person should be able to accurately summarize what your boundary is. If they cannot, either you are not communicating accurately and effectively or they are struggling to hear you. Repeat or re-form what your boundary is until what you’re saying and what they reflect back match.
- Attach a consequence to the violation of this boundary. A boundary with no consequence is toothless. It’s important to emphasize here that this can be read as a threat or ultimatum but it’s not. An ultimatum is a demand followed by retaliation usually of a similar caliber (think “taste of their own medicine”) but a consequence is merely the effect of an action. There are natural consequences to a person’s choices. To refer back to the Uncle so-and-so example, it is a natural consequence for you to remove his access to you if he can’t respect your boundary. This should also be communicated effectively and reflected back to you accurately.
- Build in a warning system. The violation of a boundary isn’t always intentional or malicious. When it is not their own boundary it is easy for a person to forget, especially over time. I think most people and most boundaries deserve at least one warning stated thusly, “Hey, remember when I told you that if you say racist things at Thanksgiving dinner that I will leave? Well, the next time this happens that will be the consequence.” You can absolutely choose not to build in a warning system but I like to work under the assumption that your relationships are valuable enough to you to give them a chance. I reserve two warnings for children and exceptionally difficult boundaries. Three strikes should almost never be considered acceptable. Even with two warnings you run the risk of setting a precedent that a person may violate your boundary only this many times, and they could take advantage of that.
Now for the hardest part: following through. I cannot emphasize this enough: it is extremely important that you do follow through on your boundary and its attached consequences or you run the risk of doing further damage to your relationships by showing you can’t be relied on or your word is meaningless.
You might be saying to yourself, “Okay, this is all well and good but what if I’m dealing with a hostile person who will take this the wrong way?” Well, that’s not something you can control. That is not where your power lies. Your power lies in the fact that you have the ability to set and enforce a boundary. How they react is in their control. However, you can increase your success in communicating around boundaries by leading with the relationship. Something like, “Hey, I have something I need to talk to you about and I want you to know that I value our relationship. That is the reason I’m bringing this up.” You can even bookend your boundary communication with an echo of this statement just to keep the sentiment fresh in their minds and minimize their reactivity.
Finally, I’d like to address flexibility with boundaries. Boundaries should not necessarily be firm and unwavering. People and circumstances change, and so it stands to reason that boundaries can, too. Again, communication here is key. Perhaps before you are done communicating about your boundary you establish that you’re going to try things this way for a certain period of time after which the intention is to reconvene and have a discussion about how that went and whether or not this boundary needs to change. You could also just check in after a certain period of time in the same way whether you established this in the original boundary communication or not. I do not recommend altering a boundary on a whim. This is a serious matter. You take your relationships and your boundaries seriously. Any changes should be communicated.
I wish you the best of luck in your relationships and boundaries!
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 6, 2022 boundaries, burn out, caregiver fatigue, digital detox, Habits that make us happy, holistic health, meditation, mental health, nature therapy, outdoor yoga, relaxation, rituals for self care, rituals to reduce stress, self care, self care strategies for mental wellbeing, stress management, therapists, wellness, yoga0 comments
American Counseling Association has dedicated April as Counseling Awareness Month, a time of advocacy for the profession and celebration of the outstanding efforts of counselors in myriad settings as they seek to facilitate the growth and development of all people. This year’s theme—The Future is… Self-Care, Advocacy and Inclusion #BurnBrightNotOut—is focused on some of the avenues that will help ensure a brighter future for counselors, their clients and the counseling profession.
With the state of the world today and in coping with the last two years, many of us are simply burnt out. You’ve probably been searching social media or the internet looking for how to avoid burnout—well, you’re in luck! We asked our therapists how they personally avoid burnout and they shared their tips with us. They truly are practicing what they preach.
Therapists’ Personal Tips for How They Avoid Burnout
- “Having boundaries where I don’t bite off more than I can chew.”
- “Keeping a good portion of my energy for myself and my life so I’m not running on empty for what I need in my own life.”
- “Balance within my life: tending to myself mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and socially. Making sure I connect to these areas and feed them!”
- “Bike riding (indoor and outdoor).”
- “Prayer to help me with clients and for God to watch over my clients.”
- “Downtime for jigsaw puzzles, reading, HGTV, cooking, and my other flow activities.”
- “Exercise and guided meditations. I also try to make self care part of my every day routine.”
- “I try to dedicate the end of the day to at least one self-care activity that ‘cleanses the stress of the day away.’ This varies from day to day but usually always consists of watching an episode of a show with my husband, and then reading before bed. I try to keep screen time to a minimum since I provide sessions via virtual therapy.”
- “I refrain from checking my email when I am not in the office (with the exception of emergencies) and block time on my schedule each day for a self-care activity.”
- “Getting a yoga class in. Yoga helps me to stay centered and grounded.”
- “Going to my own personal therapist.”
We hope you can apply some of these therapist-implemented tips to your own life.
When counselors get the self-care they need, they burn brighter and avoid burnout. To learn more go to American Counseling Association, Counseling Awareness Month.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 24, 2022 meditation, mindfulness, mindfulness based stress reduction, nature therapy, outdoor yoga, relaxation, self care, stress managment0 comments
With the warmer temps in Pittsburgh, it’s nice to get outside— because even a small amount of time spent outdoors leaves you feeling a littler brighter and more at ease.
Increasingly, we learn that the great outdoors may have many secrets to enhancing our wellness potential. In fact in a 2013 study published by the National Institute of Health, cortisol levels were measured in people who had taken a long walk indoors and others who had done the same walk outdoors in a green serene setting. Those who had gotten their cardio amidst the trees had significantly less cortisol in their saliva than those who were indoors.
Peaceful outdoorsy people have long felt the call of the wild and reported the great benefit of getting their fitness fix by hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities. We know that we can boost endorphins and decrease cortisol levels from the experience of being outdoors. Keep in mind the Cortisol is a hormone produced in the body by the adrenal glands, its activating presence leads to the physical responses involved in “fight or flight.” When cortisol is contained in overabundance in our bodies it can lead to many forms of disease, weight gain, and chronic stress to name a few. So in short, discovering ways to reduce cortisol’s overabundance in our bodies is vital, the mental health community is ready to explore many ways to expound upon the health benefits of spending more time outdoors.
12 Ways to Spend More Time Outdoors
- Learn to forage for wild edible plants and berries with an expert guide.
- Take your lunch break outdoors.
- Try a walking meditation.
- Create an outdoor space at your home.
- Pack a picnic with your dog or your partner.
- Try to go camping.
- Do some star gazing.
- Take a flower sniffing tour.
- Plant a garden and make some farm to table meals of your own.
- Pick up litter, we can even be altruistic with our wellness.
- Ask your therapist to do an outdoor walking session.
- Take an outdoor fitness or yoga class.
We are pleased to offer two upcoming outdoor wellness opportunities: Nature Therapy Group: An Immersive Outdoor Group Therapy Experience and Yoga in the Park.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 14, 2022 bipolar disorder, Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, depression, manic depression, medicine, mental health, mental health awareness, mental illness, mood swing, preventing suicide0 comments
As a therapist I have had many clients who were diagnosed with or in the process of being identified as having Bipolar I Disorder. Similarly, I recognize experiences with acquaintances whose personalities seemed to dramatically change over time. Before learning more about bipolar disorder, I wondered what had caused these changes, was it me, them, or had our relationships simply changed.
Bipolar I Disorder was once called manic depression because a person with this diagnosis often swings from extreme highs and lows as part of mania and depression phases. Typically, mania involves extreme increases in energy levels and reduced sleep needs, risky and impulsive behaviors, poor decision making, restlessness, and irritability among other symptoms. During a manic episode, a person may feel invincible, on top of the world, and as though nothing can stand in the way of success.
And after, depression occurs as part of a cycle—what goes up, must come down. As good as the mania feels, the depression feels equally bad, including extreme symptoms of sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness/helplessness. Both mania and depression symptoms may occur for several days as part of a repeated cycle. A person can become psychotic during each phase, seeing, hearing, or smelling things that are not there. Likewise, a person may experience suicidal ideation during each phase of bipolar disorder, wanting to end their cycle of pain, poor decision making, and confusion about what happened.
Without treatment a person with Bipolar I Disorder can cycle more regularly between mania and depression, also experiencing more extreme symptoms of each. Examples could be a person quitting their job, filing for divorce, or trying to end their life. Bipolar I Disorder can be difficult to diagnose. This is because mood swings may look different for different people. Additionally, symptoms of mania, including jumpiness, anxiety, and restlessness, may be confused with a generalized anxiety disorder. Distractibility can be confused with ADHD. Depression can look like a simple depressive disorder.
Diagnosis and treatment for a bipolar disorder may not occur until a trained mental health professional observes the significant and long-lasting symptoms of mania and depression as part of a recurrent cycle. Likewise, obtaining a history of similar symptoms among family members can be critical for making a bipolar diagnosis. Additionally, knowing a history of recent trauma as potentially triggering the beginning of the mania/depression cycle might be helpful.
The good news is that there is help to better regulate mood swings and return to a more stable lifestyle. As with any other medical condition, taking medications has proven beneficial for feeling more in control of mania/depression symptoms. Mental health therapy, including individual therapy, couples/marital therapy, and family therapy, has been proven helpful for understanding the impact of having bipolar symptoms, including how we perceive ourselves and are perceived by others.
Supportive therapy can help people with a bipolar diagnosis learn how to create balances between working excessively, staying up late, doing drugs, drinking too much alcohol, and building financial safeguards for preventing overspending. Establishing a supportive circle of friends, professionals, and community resources is usually part of feeling better about self and the world. Keeping mood diaries through various apps can help people monitor potential mood swings.
I look at the world today as being more humane and supportive of people with a mental illness like Bipolar I or II. However, it remains essential that a person with manic/depression symptoms recognize the advancements in treatment of this disorder and reach out for help.
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh is here to help if you are experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder. Please contact us at 412-322-2129 if you need support.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghFebruary 28, 2022 borderline personality disorder, self harm0 comments
Trigger Warning: Self-Harm
Coping skills are a way to deal with difficult situations, people and emotions. Many people enjoy listening to music, writing, exercising, and painting on days they do not feel the greatest. However, for some people the emotions can feel so overwhelming they turn to self-harm looking to release the emotional pain.
March 1 is Self-Injury Awareness Day— a day that focuses on increasing education and support on a misunderstood problem. According to research from the National Library of Medicine, about 17% of all people will self-harm during their lifetime.
What is Self-Harm or Self-Injury?
Self-harm is any form of hurting oneself on purpose. The pain from self-harming is often a distraction from the mental pain one may experience. Usually, when people self-harm, they do not have the intention to attempt or commit suicide. Although anyone can self-harm, it is more common among people with mental health disorders such as Depression, Anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder, Eating Disorders and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Self-harm looks differently for each person. Below is a list of some of the most common types of self-harm:
- Pulling out hair
- Carving words or symbols into the skin
- Picking at existing wounds
- Piercing the skin with sharp objects
How To Deal with Self-Harm
Painful experiences and emotions can be really hard and overwhelming sometimes. Having the desire to find ways to cope and process the difficult things in your life is totally normal. If you are using self-harm to manage your emotions, we want you to know that you are not alone. Here are some resources and alternative ways to cope with your emotions.
- For emergency care. You can call the Resolve Crisis Hotline at 888-796-8226. Resolve is a 24-hour, 365-day crisis service that is free to all Allegheny County Residents. They provide a 24-hour hotline you can call to speak to a trained clinician. A mobile crisis team that can travel anywhere within Allegheny County to respond to a crisis; they will provide in-person support and will work to arrange further care and stabilization, if needed. Resolve also has a walk-in center, no appointment is needed. The walk-in center is located at 333 North Braddock Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15208. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or Text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.
- Get Outside. Changing your environment can offer a distraction and give you time away from the self-harm tool. Being in nature also has a calming effect; walking around your neighborhood or on the trails can help increase your mood. Visiting a nearby park and/or stopping by your favorite place can help you feel calmer and at peace.
- Physical Activity can also be used as a distraction to help increase your mood and relieve some of the overwhelming emotions. Using sports or exercise can help resist the urge. If you do not feel like moving your body too much or feel like you have low energy, try yoga, Zumba, or do some basic stretches. Many videos can be found on YouTube.
- Listen to Music. Make a happy playlist and use the playlist during times you are not feeling well mentally.
- Mindfulness Activities. Using meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery can help us calm down when we are feeling overwhelmed. You can also take some deep breaths while using an adult coloring book or a color on a blank piece of paper.
- Talk to a Professional. The intention may not be to commit suicide however, self-harm can be dangerous both emotionally and physically. Talking to a therapist can help you process difficult emotions and learn new ways to cope.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghFebruary 9, 2022 Child Anxiety, child counseling, child psychologist, child therapy, children mental health, Play Therapist, Play Therapy, play therapy week0 comments
Every single person in this world wants to feel heard and to be validated. However, children do not always have the words they need to express themselves due to their developmental level. Children will then find other means to express themselves, which often becomes frustrating for the adults in their lives because this behavior may be viewed as aggression, shutting down, or other dysregulated emotions that can cause stress at school, the home, and community.
When given the tool they need, children can show those around them the root of these big emotions and sometimes even bigger externalization. Through toys, children can process through their experiences, relationship dynamics, fears, hopes, and so much more when given the safe space to do so.
Some of my favorite toy, (though my playroom is constantly growing based on the needs of each individual client!), are as follows:
- A playhouse with calico critters is great to have in a therapeutic playroom. These non-specific toys allow children to play out what is going on at home and interactions with their family without the confines of dolls that may not look like the person they are wanting to represent. The animals are perfect for blended families and allow the children to create what matches how they view everyone.
- Emergency vehicles allow children to explore scary things they have lived through or witnessed such as a fire, birth family removal, family member arrest, hospitalization, etc. Ambulances are specifically important with the pandemic as many children are in need of a space to explore their ideas and fears around illness.
- Play food allows children to play out the parent/nurture role, which lends to a space for healing at a basic needs level.
- A magical tool like a castle helps children’s imaginations thrive. It can often feel safer for children to have a space to process which is not similar to their current experience. The castle gives them a space to dream, as well as put their hurts in a space where it feels safer and less personal to process and explore.
- Doctor/dentist kits allow children who have experienced medical trauma to explore those experiences. Processing through these experiences can allow for children to regain a sense of safety, as well as re-bond with parents who may have also had the traumatic experience of having to hold the child when going through a procedure or testing. Roleplaying exercises also aids in decreasing anxiety around upcoming appointments and creates a space to learn and practice coping skills to utilize during those situations to increase emotion regulation skills.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJanuary 27, 2022 alone on valentines day, heartbreak, loneliness, Reducing holiday stress, rituals for self care, rituals to reduce stress, self care, single, single for valentines day, valentines day0 comments
Valentine’s Day can be a tricky holiday for us singles to navigate. It may bring up feelings of loneliness and comparison. Feeling jealous that we don’t have what others do. Or coming to the realization that life hasn’t gone according to plan. No matter how you slice it, February 14 will show up just as the sun rises and sets so be prepared and follow these 12 tips for how to enjoy yourself while single on Valentine’s Day.
- Write Yourself a Love Letter. Love letters may have fallen by the wayside once text messages showed up on the scene, but there’s something special about a handwritten letter or card. Buy yourself a beautiful card and write about all the great qualities you possess and why a future partner would be lucky to have you. Drop the card in the mail and in a few days you’ll be the recipient of a beautifully handwritten note.
- Book a Massage. Give yourself the gift of touch and relaxation and indulge in an hour-long massage.
- Plan a Date with Your Single Friends. There’s no better way to spend Valentine’s Day as a single person than with people who are unattached like you. Make plans for a nice night out with dinner and drinks.
- Find Your Act of Service. Be on the lookout for people who you can help to stay out of the doldrums during this holiday. You can hop onto reddit and lend a kind and supportive word to those who feel lonely, too. Or get out in person and help your local community. The neighborhood app Nextdoor is a great resource to learn which of your neighbors could use support. Sometimes the best way we can support our own well-being is when we are acting in the service of others.
- Remind Yourself the Grass Isn’t Always Greener and Social Media Can Be Deceptive. By now we all know that most people post the highlight reel of their lives on social media. And this couldn’t be more true for Valentine’s Day. Yet how many couples have posted a beautiful selfie and had an argument right before? Or gushed about their great love in a post only to break up a week later. The truth is we don’t know the inner workings of other people’s relationships.
- Temporarily Delete Social Media from Your Phone. For many people social media can be triggering. This is especially true during Valentine’s Day when your feed may be filled with couples professing their undying love for each other or sharing photos of the beautiful bouquet of flowers gifted to them by their partner. This may make a person who is single feel lonely or jealous they aren’t having the same experience. Allow yourself to take a break from this type of content so you’re not adding on to your emotional burden. It can be as easy as deleting the apps from your phone and reinstalling after Valentine’s Day.
- Buy Yourself Flowers. Who says flowers are reserved for those coupled up? Flowers are available to anyone at any time in a variety of price ranges. Get yourself exactly the type of flowers you like best and that will make you smile. Also why limit yourself to flowers? We love the Lawrenceville based City Grows which offers a wide variety of decorative succulents and cacti that will last far longer than a week.
- Cook Yourself a Gourmet Meal or Enjoy Your Favorite Comfort Foods. If you like cooking, find yourself a special recipe and enjoy the process of shopping for the ingredients. Make a ritual out of it by playing your favorite tunes and sipping on a glass of Malbec as you prepare the meal. Fully immerse yourself in the experience.
- Order Takeout from Your Favorite Restaurant. If cooking isn’t your thing, order your favorite comfort foods from DoorDash or pick up takeout from your favorite local restaurant. Make this day about doing things you love–like indulging in your favorite foods. And crack open that bottle of wine you were saving for a special occasion.
- Binge Watch Your Favorite Show. Now that you’ve got your delicious food and drink covered, enjoy this guilt-free opportunity to do nothing but binge watch that new show you’ve been waiting for.
- Pamper Yourself With a Bath at Home. Try an epsom salt bath which can be used to relax muscles and relieve pain in the shoulders, neck, back and skull. Add in some lavender essential oils to activate your sense of smell and invite calm.
- Cuddle with Your Pets. Cats provide us with companionship, which can ultimately reduce the risk of depression or anxiety. With a cat by your side, you won’t feel alone. Plus, those who have cats are more likely to have lower blood pressure than those who do not. This is attributed to the fact that cats create a calm and relaxing atmosphere in a home, which can naturally reduce blood pressure. Dogs also provide us with companionship and in turn we get positive benefits like: getting outside in the sunlight, partaking in exercise while walking our furry friend, and having the opportunity to socialize with people we come across. Don’t have a pet? Consider visiting one of the area’s cat cafe’s, offer to walk dogs at a local shelter or even dip your toe in fostering.
Challenging days give us the opportunity to realize and embrace our personal autonomy. While we may prefer Valentine’s Day partnered up, we do have control over how we spend the day and what we tell ourselves about it.
Remember that you are enough! It isn’t a relationship that completes our life—while love is a complement to a meaningful existence, being healthy, happy, and whole can be achieved while single, smiling, and not even looking!
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJanuary 24, 2022 dating, divorce, healthy relationships, love, marriage, soulmates, valentines day0 comments
“Love isn’t something natural. Rather it requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith, and the overcoming of narcissism. It isn’t a feeling, it is a practice.”
― Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving
Soul mates, the stuff of fantasies, dreams come true, love at first sight and also quite likely among the reasons you may find yourself hurling towards disappointment when encountering real life love! A soul mate is a notion born from Christianity, the story is simple; at one time all souls frolicked in their natural and divine state of male female merger, we were celestial and reflecting wholeness. Then our souls were ripped apart and cast down to the earth leaving us with a longing which can only be subsided by the reunion of ourselves with our one “other half”. An interesting fact is that the western world nations practicing Christianity and love marriages suffer from exorbitantly high divorce rates compared to nations which may have practiced arranged marriages where the emphasis becomes working towards harmony.
A soul mate unintentionally dismisses the actual and expansive realities of true love by instead distracting a would-be lover with damaging beliefs such as “love at first sight.” In the soul mate version of love, emptiness and longing are the implications of living without ones eternal mate and the only remedy appears as the divine salve upon having found ones soul mate. When pirouetting from life’s various stages, including romantic encounters one may easily fall susceptible to the guise that wholeness has been reached, sustaining the faulty belief that the soul has become whole in those first throes of ecstatic merger. I assure you that any relationship which is built upon the understanding that perfection will be reached by the merging of two halfs, falsely acting upon the understanding that wholeness is only sustained by consolidating two empty jars; any such union will erode and suffer from disappointment and ensuing bitter resentment among a host of other maladies. Do not despair for this is no argument against love, this is a cautionary semblance meant to yield the reader towards a more mature and viable assembly of the hearts potential melodic chord!
I do not want to execute your love but I do want to help you to develop realistic expectations for romance and loving feelings. Love is not a magical act whereby two opposites attract or two fateful spirits find their missing piece. The act of loving is a skill set, to love is a verb implying that there is some action, exertion of effort, a labor of love indeed. Thus far we have established that love takes work and love requires two whole parts. A loving union offers many challenges but its rewards are tenfold. How does one find the harmonious chord when bringing together two humans with their own unique set of wants, needs, values, manners of loving and being? The answer is carefully, mindfully, and with intention.
5 Ways to Move Beyond the Notion of Soul Mate and Develop Strong and Healthy Relationships
- Approach from wholeness: Feeling sad, lonely, inadequate? These are not places from which a healthy relationship can be born, a “soul mate” meant to complete your empty parts is a set up for failure. Equally for all of the white knights and Florence Nightingales, it may somehow speak to your fractured psyche to purchase a fixer upper but saving someone else or teaching them art of living skills will inevitably be dehumanizing and resentment building for both parties. The best we can ever do is to hone our own self-worth, know our ever evolving abilities and work to create some confidence in them so that we can enjoy sharing those attributes with others who can extend the very same!
- Love takes work: One must be willing to exert effort in the creation of a smooth and solid relationship. This will require you to leave behind the infantile suggestion of perfect mergers manifested by the divine, the stuff of this world requires honing interpersonal skills, speaking and being authentically, embodying compassion, trust, care, believe, compromise, caress, challenge. The list could go on forever indeed but I am sure most of you are already aware of that!
- Know thy self: Socrates may have been the first to mention, the unexamined life is not worth living! Get to know yourself and develop a strong loving relationship with you! If you are hiding a ton of shame or uncertainties about the car you drive, your job, your interests and you want to create a relationship with someone able to “show you the way” then I assure you that even if you do meet a potential love match you will be starting the relationship off on shaky ground. Have respect for your unique being and as you become better equipped to share your presence authentically you will be far more likely to create similar relationships, the kind based on mutual likes, passions, values, and respect.
- Don’t expect too much but never settle: Sometimes settling may mean allowing the relationship or the self to fall into deterioration during the course of long term togetherness. Nurturing love requires one to constantly grow, maintain physical, emotional, spiritual growth. That which remains stagnant and rigid is bound to break but that which eternally renews shall remain strong and vital like the river flowing.
- Forget about finding the perfect fairy tale lover, evolve into the best “YOU”: Often in relationships men and women tirelessly search for that other who will allow the harmony and happiness to flow into their life. Yet beyond creating love based upon compatible personality, values, and interests that which prohibits the loving union is often to be found within our very own selves. As Rumi so profoundly proffers “Seek not for love but to remove all of the barriers within oneself which prevent it.”