15 Date Ideas for Couples

One of the main purposes of dating is for two people to spend quality time together, connect with one another, share experiences, and get to know each other better. Looking for some fresh date ideas for couples? Here are fifteen suggestions below.

At the beginning of a relationship, dating provides an opportunity to explore your compatibility and potential suitability to become a long-term couple. Deeper into the relationship, it helps strengthen the connection between you and your spouse and keep romance alive.

Finding time for date nights can be challenging, especially if you have young children at home, but being intentional about setting aside time dedicated to focusing on each other can be a game changer that prevents your relationship from becoming stale.

Regular date nights enable you and your spouse to enjoy each other’s company without distractions, increase intimacy through shared activities, and strengthen the bond between you. It is also an important reminder that your relationship is a priority no matter how busy life gets.

According to relationship coach and author Jaime Bronstein, “One of the most important keys to a lasting relationship or marriage is never to stop dating.”

Commit to a weekly date and pencil it in on your calendar. Planning for a specific day and time gives you something to look forward to.

Date ideas for couples

Not all dates have to involve going out. Neither do they have to be expensive or even at night. Let’s consider some simple and inexpensive date ideas for couples you can try if you would like a change from the old standard dinner out and a movie.

Play a board game

Pick a couple of your favorite board games to play – or one long one like Monopoly. In addition to enabling you to relax and have fun, board games provide an opportunity for you to interact and engage in friendly competition while enjoying each other’s company.

Cook a meal together

Making your favorite dish together, or finding a new recipe to try, and enjoying the results, can be a fun, relaxing, interactive activity.

Plan a trip

Planning all the details of an upcoming adventure together enables you to bond over a shared experience.

Take a walk or hike together

Hiking enables you to talk without distractions while you enjoy nature and get some exercise.

Visit a museum or art exhibit

Find an interesting exhibit to explore and discuss what you see.

Play miniature golf

Miniature golf can be a relaxing, casual activity. Maybe place a fun wager on the game to add a little friendly competition to the fun.

Go for a boat ride

Go kayaking or spend a couple of relaxing hours on the water in a rowboat, paddleboat, or canoe.

Take a class together

Taking a class together is a fun way to share an experience while learning something new. If you need to keep costs down, look for a free tutorial on YouTube.

Have a picnic

Pack up a basket and find a secluded spot where you can hang out and enjoy the scenery while you eat. It can be as simple or as fancy as you want it to be. You can even have a picnic indoors.

Pretend you’re a tourist

Make believe you’re a tourist and go sightseeing around your town. Visit local landmarks, tourist attractions, and places you often pass but never go into.

Watch the sunset together

Reconnect with each other at the end of the day by finding a spot with a clear view of the horizon and watching the sunset together.

Look through old photos

Take a trip down memory lane while looking through old photos and reminiscing about the memories they bring up.

Recreate your first date

Recreating your first date or revisiting the place where you first met can be a fun and nostalgic way to spend time together and relive special memories.

Stargaze

Stargazing can be a peaceful way to spend time together. Download a stargazing app and see if you can find any constellations or planets.

Volunteer together

Whether it’s visiting a nursing home, serving at a soup kitchen, distributing blankets, taking shelter dogs for walks, picking up trash, or volunteering at a shelter, doing volunteer work together can strengthen your connection and appreciation for one another while you give back to your community.

If you are interested in looking for additional ways to strengthen the connection between you and your spouse beyond the date ideas for couples in this article and would like to set up an appointment to meet with one of the faith-based couples counselors in Newport Beach, California, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at Newport Beach Christian Counseling.

Photos:
“Loving Couple”, Courtesy of Candice Picard, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
If you are interested in your teen attending individual or group therapy, please reach out to us at The Colony Christian Counseling. We will arrange for you to meet with one of the faith-based counselors in The Colony, Texas.

Common Symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder in Children, Adolescents, and Adults

Reactive attachment disorder, also known as RAD, is a condition that affects a child’s ability to bond with significant people in his or her life due to his or her emotional needs going unmet during infancy or serious abuse or neglect.

It is most likely to occur in children who live in orphanages or other institutional settings, have been in multiple foster care homes, or whose mother or primary caregiver has been physically or emotionally absent for extended periods.

As children with reactive attachment disorder get older, their symptoms fall into one of two subtypes – inhibited reactive attachment disorder or disinhibited reactive attachment disorder.

Children with inhibited reactive attachment disorder are often withdrawn, emotionally unresponsive, show no interest in what is going on around them, do not seek comfort from their caregivers, and prefer to keep to themselves.

On the other hand, children with disinhibited reactive attachment disorder may be overly friendly with strangers, lack the desire or need to stay close to their primary caregiver for safety, violate social boundaries, and seek affection from others in a potentially unsafe way.

Without treatment, the symptoms of children with reactive attachment disorder are likely to persist into adulthood and affect the way they function in society.

Common symptoms of reactive attachment disorder in children

  • Avoiding eye contact.
  • Failure to smile.
  • Failure to coo or babble.
  • Crying inconsolably.
  • Not reaching arms out to be picked up.
  • Not seeming to notice when you walk into the room.
  • Not seeming to care when you leave him or her alone.
  • Not seeking comfort or responding when comfort is given.
  • Pushing away or leaning away from a person trying to be affectionate or offer comfort.
  • Angry outbursts or tantrums.
  • Reacting violently when held or cuddled.
  • Withdrawing from social situations.
  • Lack of interest in people around them.
  • Lack of conscience.
  • Inability to feel guilt, remorse, or regret.
  • Uninterested in playing interactive games such as peek-a-boo.
  • Failure to seek support or help when needed.
  • Lack of interaction with peers.
  • Engaging in self-soothing behaviors such as rocking back and forth.

Common symptoms of reactive attachment disorder in adolescents

  • Appearing withdrawn and emotionally detached.
  • Looking sad and lethargic.
  • Lack of eye contact.
  • Dislike being touched.
  • Inability to form meaningful relationships.
  • Lacking basic social skills.
  • Defiant and argumentative.
  • Anger issues.
  • Difficult to discipline.
  • Lack of self-control.
  • Problems at school.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Unpredictability.
  • Lack of empathy.
  • Irritability.
  • Destructive behavior.
  • Cruelty to animals.
  • Engaging in risky behaviors.
  • Failure to seek or respond to comfort when upset.
  • Avoid interacting with peers.
  • Manipulative behavior.
  • Lying.
  • Stealing.
  • Lack of conscience, and an inability to feel guilt or remorse.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Preoccupation with blood, fire, and gore.

Common symptoms of reactive attachment disorder in adults

  • Fear of being alone.
  • Minimizing feelings of hurt or pain.
  • Physically or emotionally distancing themselves from others.
  • Feel as though they don’t fit in.
  • Inability to show genuine care or affection.
  • Reject love.
  • Failure to seek support when they need it.
  • Avoid making eye contact.
  • Pushing people away.
  • Absence of joy.
  • Addictive and/or risky behaviors.
  • Lack of conscience, and an inability to feel emotions such as regret, guilt, or remorse.
  • Tendency to avoid serious relationships.
  • Communication difficulties.
  • Anger issues.

Treatment options

The focus of treatment is on strengthening the child emotionally, helping him or her create healthy bonds and relationships, and/or repairing existing negative relationships between him or her and caregivers. For adolescents and adults, there is an added focus on improving social and communication skills.

Common interventions include:

Psychotherapy

In psychotherapy, the counselor works with both the child and his or her parents to teach them how to build healthy emotional skills and reduce the problematic behaviors that prevent bonding from taking place.

Family therapy

In family therapy, the counselor works with the child and his or her family members to help them learn how to interact healthily.

Social skills intervention

Social skills intervention is focused on teaching the child how to interact appropriately with his or her peers.

Parenting skills classes

Parenting skills classes are geared toward teaching parents how to increase their responsiveness and sensitivity toward their child, meet his or her needs, and bond with him or her, as well as how to manage their child’s challenging behaviors and help him or her use the skills learned during therapy in the outside world more effectively.

If you have questions or would like to set up an appointment to meet with a counselor in Newport Beach, California, please give us a call at Newport Beach Christian Counseling. We can help you or your child address and overcome reactive attachment disorder.

References:

Aaron Kandola. “What is reactive attachment disorder?” Medical News Today. November 2, 2020. medicalnewstoday.com/articles/reactive-attachment-disorder.

Elizabeth E. Ellis and Musa Yilanli. “Reactive Attachment Disorder.” StatPearls. Updated May 1, 2023. statpearls.com/ArticleLibrary/viewarticle/19406.

Photos:
“Pink Flowers”, Courtesy of Annie Spratt, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

What Depression Feels Like

Do you ever wonder if you are depressed or just sad? If so, this article on what depression feels like may be for you.

Key differences between sadness and depression

Sadness is a normal emotional reaction to a particular experience such as a painful event, rejection, or disappointment. Though it temporarily changes your mood, you can still go about your day and have moments when you are able to laugh or be comforted. Eventually, it fades on its own.

Depression, on the other hand, is an all-encompassing and debilitating mood disorder that occurs without any apparent reason and that left untreated can last for months or years. It is much more intense than feeling sad or temporarily weighed down by what is going on around you and does not necessarily include sadness.

Many people with depression feel numb and unable to feel anything at all. Others, especially men, may feel anger or irritability that is out of proportion to what triggers it.

Depression alters the way your brain functions. It tends to be a whole-body experience that affects you physically as well as emotionally, making it difficult or impossible for you to function normally in your day-to-day life and causing problems at work, at home, and in your relationships with others. It has been likened to permanently wearing a pair of gray-tinted glasses that only allow you to see the negative side of things.

Things only people with depression can truly understand

Depression drains your energy level and makes every day seem like a challenge. You feel constantly fatigued and worn out. Everything seems to require more energy and take longer to complete. You have trouble staying focused on what you need to do, and taking care of everyday routines and responsibilities can feel overwhelming.

Being constantly told to look at the bright side of things or think positively is not helpful. Depression is not a choice or a mood. When you are depressed, you can’t control your thoughts. Your thoughts control you.

Depression cannot be turned on and off at will. Being told to get over it or that you have nothing to be depressed about only adds frustration, anxiety, guilt, or shame and adds to your already flagging sense of worth. Telling a depressed person to snap out of it is like asking someone with a broken leg to walk.

Depression affects more than your mental and emotional state. Depression affects your physical body as well, making you prone to headaches, muscle tension, and other unexplained aches and pains. It also affects your appetite and sleep patterns. You may have trouble falling or staying asleep or sleep too much, lose weight due to a loss of appetite, or gain weight due to an increased craving for comfort foods.

Depression is all-consuming. It is not a passing feeling like sadness. Though you may sometimes feel sad, you are more likely not to feel anything at all other than being numb to life. It is a mental illness that impacts every area of your life – family, work, and social. You no longer enjoy or have an interest in things that used to give you pleasure and may isolate yourself and avoid others even though you feel lonely.

How people describe what depression feels like

People who have been interviewed about what depression feels like to them often use metaphors such as “slogging through molasses, walking around with a pack full of rocks on my back, or falling into a deep black hole I can’t get out of.” Others describe it as “feeling there’s nothing to hope for, crying all day without reason, it’s like a heavy blanket you can’t take off, or a sense of emptiness and disconnection.”

Because of the variety of ways depression can be experienced, the MyWellbeing team interviewed 100 people during Depression Awareness Month, asking them to describe in a single statement what depression feels like to them. Below is a sampling of the responses.

  • Like fog has taken over my brain.
  • Every day is a struggle.
  • The simplest things feel impossible.
  • There is no way out.
  • Drowning.
  • Suffocating.
  • Like living on another planet where I don’t belong.
  • It’s heavy and lonely.
  • Everything is meaningless.
  • Not finding joy in anything.
  • Like fog has taken over my brain.
  • Constant need for sleep, migraines, and no appetite except for foods that are bad for me.
  • Like wanting to crawl into a cotton ball because everything around me is too much.
  • Like I’m on an island, deep in a dark cave of shame and self-hatred.
  • Feeling hopeless and worthless without an obvious reason.
  • Questioning why I am even here. Feeling like I am a waste of space and oxygen.
  • It makes the smallest tasks – like drinking water, showering, and playing with my kids – feel so hard.
  • Like the act of getting out of bed is equivalent to climbing Everest.
  • Like constantly coming up short for every single person/animal in my life.

If you feel you are struggling with depression and would like to set up a risk-free appointment to meet with one of the faith-based counselors at our location to see how counseling can help you, please give us a call today. You don’t have to walk this path alone.

References:

Greg Dorter. “Things Only People With Depression Can Truly Understand.” ActiveBeat. Updated November 1, 2021. activebeat.com/your-health/10-things-only-people-with-depression-can-truly-understand/.

Haley Jakobson. “100 People Told Us What Depression Feels Like.” MyWellbeing. mywell-being.com/therapy-101/what-depression-feels-like.

Sara Lindberg. “What Does Depression Feel Like?” VeryWell Mind. Updated November 2, 2022. verywellmind.com/what-depression-feels-like-5088793.

Photos:
“Downcast”, Courtesy of Chad Madden, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

Simple Ways to Connect with Your Teen

As parents, when we gaze at our teens, we are flooded with complex thoughts and feelings. How did they grow up so fast? Why, if we love them so much, do they drive us so crazy? We long for the connection that we once had with them when they were younger. All these thoughts and feelings are normal. But what is the best way to connect with your teen?

The teen years are full of changes, from physical changes that we can visualize, like height and hairstyle choices, to those we cannot see, like their thoughts and feelings. They, too, are caught in the middle of this just as much as we are, full of hormones, feelings, and pressures. This can make life feel like a roller coaster for us and them!

In the midst of this, it is easy to feel disconnected. When their preferences change, we may not recognize what they enjoy. When their feelings are all over the place, we may not feel like engaging or even know how. When busy schedules change routines, we may miss the opportunities for connecting.

While you may not be able to change what is happening, you can still find ways to connect. With some creativity and willingness to try, you and your teen can connect in new ways that strengthen your relationship.

Here are a few simple things you can try to enhance your connection with your teen.

Connect with your teen by watching what they watch

Notice what your teen is watching on television or what movies they like. They may not invite you to watch with them, but that does not mean you cannot watch. When you take note of what they are enjoying, set aside time to watch it on your own. Try to reserve judgment and simply watch.

The next time they are watching their show, mention that you started watching it. Tell them about a character you like or a plot twist that surprised you. Your teen will notice that you care about what they like. See if they invite you to watch with them. If they do not, take the lead and suggest watching an episode together.

Have their favorite snacks on hand

Teaching your kids healthy eating habits is an important part of parenting, but it is ok to have some flexibility, especially as a means of connecting with your child.

Sometimes they want chips or ice cream. Other times they will want the biggest strawberries or some new seltzer. Do what you can to make these items available. Even try to enjoy them with your teen.

This small effort can help your child feel loved and seen. It will also give you something to enjoy together!

Welcoming their friends helps connect you to your teen

Many teens feel an important connection to their friends. This is also true of people they are dating. When you open your home and your heart to their friends, it shows them that you care about them. Plus, it means they are home a little more.

Be the house your child wants to bring their friends to. This does not mean you should disregard any rules or family standards. However, you can be welcoming in ways that matter. Have cookies or snacks in the kitchen when your teen and their friend come in. Ask questions. Be curious about their opinions.

Ask about their day. Allow your teen to bring a friend when you go somewhere. When you care for their friends, you are caring for your teen at the same time. They may not say how much it matters, but they will see you trying, and every little connection counts.

Let your teen choose

One of the most common things teens want is to be heard. They want to know that what they think, feel, or want is valued. Show your teen this by letting them choose. This can be something as simple as a restaurant you go to or something more involved like an activity you do on vacation. It is not about what you do; it is about giving them a voice and honoring it.

Ask for help

You can ask your teen for help. This shows vulnerability and recognizes their growing independence, and the gifts, skills, and knowledge they are gaining as they mature.

You can also ask God for help. God loves healthy, connected family relationships. Ask Him to show you things you can do to connect with your teen. Be on the lookout for opportunities He gives you to spend time with them and value them. He is faithful to hear you and answer you.

When you need help to connect with your teen

Your relationship with your teen may feel hard. While this is normal to some degree, you do not need to wrestle with it alone. You can talk to a counselor about what you can do to connect with your teen. Likewise, your teen may find individual counseling valuable or even want to pursue family counseling to discuss things together.

All these ideas can assist you in improving and strengthening your relationship with your child. Feel free to contact us at Newport Beach Christian Counseling to see how one of the Christian counselors in Newport Beach, California can help.

Photos:
“Cooking”, Courtesy of Annie Spratt, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Checking Social Media”, Courtesy of Luke Porter, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “On the Beach”, Courtesy of Getty Images, Unsplash.com, Unsplash+ License

Crafting a Healthy Morning Routine for Your Wellbeing

In a Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show, the main character had a consistent morning routine and a predictable life. His signature line which he spouted daily to his neighbors was: “Good morning, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!”

One of the reasons Truman’s life was so consistent and predictable was because, unbeknownst to him, his life was a television show that viewers across the globe tuned in to watch. He lived his life on a set, a contained space, which was tightly regulated.

Most of us will likely not have lives that are as well regimented as Truman’s. Our lives may be a little too chaotic and unstructured, causing frustration and a feeling of being unproductive. It is not possible or desirable to have the exact and predictable life that Truman had, but having some structure, and a daily routine, can make a world of difference.

The value of a healthy morning routine.

Most people have jobs that start in the morning, and that means the most demanding part of the day is just as it is starting. You will want to launch right into things, and to get your tasks done with excellence and as efficiently as possible. As a bonus, it would be great if you had the energy to face the day with a sense of purpose and energy.

The benefit of having a healthy morning routine is that it can boost your energy levels, reduce stress, and it can help you be more productive at work. When you have structure for your day, you do not have to wake up each morning and think about what you are going to be doing. That is wasting precious time, and it can be stressful doing that each morning. Also, if you wake up to a routine, it will help you to feel more in control of your day.

Additionally, a morning routine can help you seed healthy habits in your life. It can take time to become consistent with healthy habits like praying, eating well, or getting some exercise. Having a dedicated time set aside for those habits each morning can help you make them well-worn habits that form an integral part of your life.

Creating your own.

One of the essential steps in setting up your morning routine is to consider what is most important to you. A person’s morning routine ought to reflect their priorities and the various pressures that they face daily. A morning routine can include activities designed to care for your physical and emotional health, as well as getting yourself ready for the day ahead.

The second step is to consider your time. Some people have routines that are half an hour long, while for others it is around ninety minutes. The morning routine includes everything from waking up, exercising, eating, meditating, showering, and anything else you would want to bring peace and wholeness to your life. There is no use in a lengthy routine if you are never going to stick to it. Create a routine that you will be able to follow consistently.

Your morning routine can consist of elements such as:

  • Waking up at the same time each morning.
  • Hydrating yourself to kick-start your day.
  • Getting some stretching or another form of exercise in.
  • Spending some time praying, reading Scripture, reviewing your day, or journaling.
  • Having your breakfast.
  • Getting dressed and ready for your day.

As you kick start your journey, you should keep a few things in mind. Your routine will likely not be perfect right off the bat. It will take time for you to settle into a routine that works for you in terms of its length and the various elements in it. Being flexible with your routine as you settle into it will help you immensely. Give yourself time to adjust your routine, to make it truly your own and something that works well for you.

In addition to being flexible, a good morning routine requires that you address any issues that can sabotage it. For instance, going to bed at a consistent time helps you get up at a consistent time in the morning.

Also, if you have your phone next to your bed, it can be tempting to wake up and scroll through social media first thing instead of getting on with your day. Using an alarm clock and creating guidelines for your electronic device use can help immensely.

Lastly, a morning routine also requires consistency. Habits stick best when they are kept up over time. Accountability helps create consistency. Have a friend regularly ask you how you are executing your routine or use a checklist. Build in rewards when you meet consistency targets.

Reaping the benefits of a morning routine will likely motivate you to lean into it more. A well-executed morning routine will help you enjoy your day more, and to enter it with a greater sense of purpose.

It is not always easy to get there alone. You might discover that you need the assistance of a trained counselor in Newport Beach, California to reach a more wholehearted way of living through simple routines. Sometimes deeply rooted habits, patterns, or issues stand in the way of motivation or discipline. Reach out to our office today at Newport Beach Christian Counseling and we will connect you to a trained counselor in Newport Beach who can walk with you on the journey.

Photos:
“Morning Devotions”, Courtesy of Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Watering the Plants”, Courtesy of Cassidy Phillips, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Face in the Mirror”, Courtesy of Getty Images, Unsplash.com, Unsplash+ License

Bible Verses About Trusting God in Difficult Times

A cursory glance at the news headlines or the trending hashtags on social media is enough to alert you to the fact that we’re in trouble. There is a lot of good that is going on in our world, but that fact cannot blind one to the reality that things are not what they’re supposed to be. And it’s not just in the world out there, though that affects us personally too. It’s the fact that in our personal lives, things are also not what they’re supposed to be. Trusting God in such times is tough.

For every one of our personal problems that cause us concern and anxiety, there is someone out there selling or offering a solution. Some of these solutions work, and they can address the problem effectively. At other times, what is offered as help becomes another hindrance. In everything, in good times or bad, one constant that ought to mark our lives is trust in God. It is especially pertinent when we are going through difficult times.

God is an ever-present help in times of trouble.

When we go through difficult times, we can become prone to negative thoughts. Those thoughts can be about ourselves, our circumstances, other people, and even about God. We can berate ourselves for the choices we made, or attack others for how they contributed to the problem.

We may blame God for the circumstances we’re in or consider ourselves abandoned by Him. These thoughts can add to the existing anguish of dealing with illness, financial pressure, job loss, relationship conflict, or the loss of a loved one that we’re already going through.

One of the things that comes through repeatedly in the Bible is that God stands ready to bless us. God’s purpose and plan is to bless the world and rescue it from itself and its self-destructive tendencies (Genesis 12:1-3; John 3:16-21; 1 Timothy 1:15-17). God works in all things to bring His purposes to fruition (Romans 8:28), and even difficult times don’t stand in the way of God’s purposes and plans.

It is important to understand God’s fundamental posture toward us, as this enables us to turn to Him freely in difficult times, even when the difficult times we are in are because of the foolish or sinful choices we have made (Luke 15). God embraces broken people like us if only we would humble ourselves and turn to Him.

Bible verses about trusting God in difficult times.

When you’re going through a difficult time, it can be both easier and harder to turn to God for help. It can be easier to turn to Him then because of our sheer desperation. You trust Him to help you because you’ve got nowhere else to turn for help. It can, however, also be harder to turn to God in difficult times because it can feel natural to blame Him for one’s present circumstances, and we can turn instinctually to other solutions that seem more viable.

Trusting God can happen in small steps, but ultimately it is about looking to Him and placing your hope on Him coming through for you. It’s not a substitute for putting in work. You can work and trust that God, who gave you the strength, gift, and opportunity for work, will make whatever work you’ve done bear fruit.

But if that work doesn’t bear fruit the way you hope, trusting God means continuing to believe that God’s intentions toward you are good and that His plan will nonetheless come to pass.

Some verses in the writings of the prophet Jeremiah speak to what it means to trust God in difficult times, and what that means in that season. He wrote,

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?Jeremiah 17:7-9, NIV

Prior to these verses, Jeremiah was talking about how trusting in human beings and their abilities while turning one’s heart away from God will lead to ruin. In contrast, the one who trusts in the Lord, the one whose confidence is in God and not in themselves, their resources, or their circumstances, shall flourish.

The interesting thing about these verses is that even that person will go through heat and drought, but their experience of those hardships will not leave them bereft or fruitless.

God’s people are not promised a pain-free existence in this world. What God promises is that He will sustain them through that hardship and bring them through on the other side. He asks us to rely on Him and to have our confidence founded upon who He is, and nothing else.

When you’re in a storm, it can be hard to trust God, especially if you’ve never done it before, or if you’re carrying hurt or disappointment with God. Contact us today to walk with a Christian counselor in Newport Beach, California to help you process these experiences and reconsider what it looks like to trust God in difficult times.

Photos:
“Cherry Blossoms”, Courtesy of Jimmy Chang, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Pink Flowers”, Courtesy of Annie Spratt, Unsplash.com, Unsplash+ License; “Cherry Blossoms”, Courtesy of Jimmy Chang, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

On Mates and Marriages: Navigating Conflict and Life as a Team

We have an enemy who leverages assault against all that God has created and approved. It may not surprise us that Satan opposes the image of God, in us as individuals, couples, families, and communities. We see the enemy launch divisive attacks on marriage generally, but we feel it when it seeks to dissolve our particular marital bond. Jesus, however, came to give us an abundant life in every area, including our marriages (John 10:10).

Trouble will present in the paradise we imagined marriage to be. Simply stated, our marital challenges will sometimes look like problems with one another. We may legitimately have issues that we need to work through, as any imperfect human and couple would in the process of becoming one (Mark 10:6-8). Yet, God still created our union to provide Eden-like pleasure and refreshment, with Him at the center.

If we peer through scripture’s lens, we will notice where the enemy operates through interpersonal challenges to shift perspective and pit us against each other (Ephesians 6:12). Conflicts will surface. Jesus warned that we would experience a variety of challenges in our earthly life (John 16:33). The Savior’s words encourage us to embrace the triumph He has secured on our behalf, despite the presence of trials (1 Corinthians 15:57).

With the Holy Spirit, however, there is always more to see than what meets the eye (John 16:13-14; Isaiah 11:2). We can look again, recognizing that God is working through our circumstances to produce spiritual fruit and build testimony. He can accomplish greater outcomes than we could imagine for ourselves, our mates, or our marriage.

As we encounter conflicts or endure difficult circumstances, our attitude has the power to enhance or eclipse the life God has designed and desired for us. Renewing our minds about our mates and marriages can help us pivot in a fresh direction. When we reframe our view, we can align our beliefs with what God wants. We also transform our behavior and discover greater dimensions of fellowship and intimacy.

With the Holy Spirit, we can submit the attitudes and perspectives that may be hampering our communication and connection with our spouse. While it may require our time, effort, and perhaps professional counseling, a couple can transcend from preoccupation with problems and antagonism to seeking and discovering solutions and embracing adventure.

No longer do we have to remain loyal to presumptions. Instead, we can exchange it for trust that the Holy Spirit is operating through our marital conflict, challenge, and circumstance to showcase the Lord’s glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Next steps.

Walking through marital conflict can be disheartening. Although the current conditions may not resemble all you envisioned, trust that God is at work in unlikely circumstances. As you endure this part of life’s experience, realize that the Spirit of the Lord has equipped you and your mate to see goodness as you work, live, and play.

Reach out to us today to schedule an individual or couple’s counseling appointment with a professional counselor through this site. This will support you and offer strategies that will heal and strengthen your marriage. With the Lord’s help, navigating conflict and life together as a team is possible.

Photos:
“Good Morning”, Courtesy of cottonbro studio, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Disagreement”, Courtesy of Timur Weber, Pexels.com, CC0 License

6 Stress Eating Signs to Watch For

Stress eating is more common now than ever with the accessibility of so much food. In the past, when convenience, prepackaged, and fast foods did not exist, people had to farm or purchase fresh foods and prepare those foods before consumption. Now, reaching for a bowl of candy or a bag of pretzels for temporary stress relief is easy. We often do not think twice about it.

As many as 27% of adults turn to this practice, according to the American Psychological Association. Of the people who reported stress eating, a whopping 34% identified the behavior as a habit.

Are you concerned about stress eating?

When we are stressed out, we eat mindlessly while not hungry. For example, you are up against a work deadline and know that you will not be able to pay your mortgage on time if you do not meet it. As the clock keeps ticking, you reach for candy or salty chips for temporary relief. When you meet the deadline, you feel a sudden surge of relief and decide to reward yourself with more food, such asice cream.

Also known as emotional eating, it becomes a habit, and the brain treats the behavior as a reward. However, like any bad habit, you can resist, break the habit, and form new ones if you first acknowledge the negative behavior.

6 Stress Eating Signs

Are you unsure if you are engaging in stress-eating behavior?

The following are six stress eating signs to watch for. If these stress eating signs sound familiar, you can get help. Stress eating is a coping mechanism. Newport Beach Christian Counseling can help you find other ways to relieve stress without harming your health.

Rapid weight gain.

Due to the intake of unnecessary calories, you may gain weight if you partake in the habit frequently. Some foods contribute to chronic inflammation, which can cause weight gain and a “puffy” appearance. Pay close attention to the types of foods you reach for in stress-eating mode.

Intense urges to eat.

When you are hungry, your stomach feels empty. Your stomach might growl, demanding food soon when you truly need it, and you will eat almost anything to nourish your body. However, stress eating operates on urges and impulses. The draw toward the food is almost tangible. The intensity grows, often for a specific type of food. When we give in to these cravings, we experience temporary stress relief.

Eating beyond full.

Stress eating is a behavior that happens mindlessly. When you consume high-fat or high-sodium foods, your brain rewards you with feel-good chemicals that temporarily relieve stress. Unfortunately, these fatty and salty foods can make it difficult to judge when your stomach is full.

When you eat while not hungry, the stomach does not send the same signal to the brain, alerting you that you are reaching fullness. Eating beyond full regularly can lead to digestive issues, stomach upset, and acid reflux.

Hiding your eating episodes.

Are you embarrassed by your stress-eating episodes? Do you hide the evidence? Do you feel ashamed when you count the wrappers tossed into the trashcan? If you hide your stress-eating episodes because of shame and guilt, reach out to a counselor for help. Eating should never make you feel shame. Hunger is a natural response, but the urges from stress eating can develop into a bad habit that can be broken.

Yo-yo dieting.

If stress eating is something that happens regularly, then you might also diet frequently. This yo-yo dieting (strict dieting followed by stress eating and then resumed dieting) does more harm than good. Many times, your body will crave avoided foods while stressed. It is better to live with an 80/20 mindset. Eat healthy 80% of the time and allow yourself treats 20% of the time. This might help diminish the yearning for “forbidden” foods.

Preoccupied with food.

Preoccupation with food is another sign. It is mentally unhealthy if you always seem worried about your next meal or snack, whether you can get what you want, especially if you are stressed. Note: this preoccupation with food stems from an overabundance and an obsession. If you do not have adequate food at home to feed you and your family, reach out for help.

Break the hold food has over you.

Has your stress eating become a habit? Are you experiencing the negative effects of emotional eating? Contact our office today to schedule a session with a counselor in Newport Beach, California who can help you take the proper steps to break free from it.

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“Burger Time”, Courtesy of Szabo Viktor, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Burger Time”, Courtesy of Szabo Viktor, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Sandwich”, Courtesy of Haley Truong, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

Building Self-Esteem One Choice at a Time

Building self-esteem and increasing confidence starts with making the right choices at the right time. When we consistently make productive choices and act on them, we see a boost in our confidence and how we think about ourselves.

No longer do we believe the nonsense that we are not smart enough, attractive enough, or productive enough to get things done. We learn how to set goals and follow through, one choice at a time. Building self-esteem is a natural result of following through.

Building self-esteem and making better decisions.

Since our thoughts influence our emotions and behaviors, learning to discern between a poor choice and a beneficial one can help with building self-esteem. We will not always make the right decisions. However, that is a part of life and should be treated as a learning experience.

Try the following tips for building self-esteem and making better choices.

Learn from others’ mistakes.

The easiest way to make better choices is to learn from other’s mistakes. If you can learn the lesson from watching others, you can possibly avoid pain and heartache.

For example, if your father was obese due to uncontrollable eating patterns and suffered a heart attack at a young age, you may be at a higher risk of gaining weight and suffering a heart attack or stroke. You may want to learn how to watch your portions and engage in activities that will lower your risk. If you follow in the same footsteps, you might suffer the same fate or worse.

Many people remember the lessons they learned watching their parents and other family members and vow not to repeat those mistakes. However, sometimes these behaviors are ingrained in us and we repeat them anyway, despite our best intentions. A counselor can help you learn to break generational behaviors and addictions.

Learn the lessons from your past choices.

Have you ever repeated a decision as if you still have not learned the lesson? We probably all have at one time or another. You may make the same choice if your emotions get in the way of logic, or if you cannot think of a better choice.

For example, you might take back a spouse after they had an affair, only to have them do it again a decade later. Although logic may tell you that this is a behavioral pattern in them, you may allow your feelings for them to override the decision to leave and instead, take them back again.

Try to identify the same type of choices and ask yourself if this is a pattern. Is it a pattern of your behavior or the behavior of someone else? If you make a different choice this time, how will it boost your self-esteem?

Pause and think long-term before making a decision.

Before making an impulsive decision or behavior, ask yourself about the long-term consequences.

For example, it might seem like a good idea at the time to cheat on a final exam to earn a certification. However, what would be the long-term consequence? What is the worst thing that could happen? Perhaps the school has a program that tracks the exams and notifies the administration of potential cheating.

What if they disqualify you from the program and do not allow you to earn the certification? What if they report your actions to the next program you apply to? Would the derailment of your dream career be worth cheating on an exam?

You can apply these “worst-case scenarios” to any choice. You may find that a specific choice ends up being in your favor. Perhaps your company offers you a relocation package to a new city. The worst-case scenario is that you are miles away from your family. But, you may weigh the pros and cons and decide that the move will benefit your family far more and you can always make plans to video call and visit your family throughout the year.

Check in with your emotions.

Emotions are fickle. When we cannot control our feelings, we may act impulsively and make poor decisions that can lead to lower self-esteem. Before making a monumental decision, take stock of your emotions.

Are you feeling desperate, hurt, sad, or angry? Are you tired or hungry? Is your anxiety calling the shots? It can be difficult to make a proper choice when your emotions seem overwhelming. Instead, reach out to a counselor or close friend and explain the situation. They may be able to help you detach from your emotions to make an informed decision.

Getting help.

Do you struggle with your confidence and feelings of self-worth? A counselor at Newport Beach Christian Counseling can help you with building self-esteem, taking control of your behaviors, and defeating intrusive thoughts. Contact our office today to schedule a session with a counselor in Newport Beach, California.

 Photos:
“Woman Ascending the Stairs”, Courtesy of THIS IS ZUN, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Wooden Walkway”, Courtesy of Nao Triponez, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Balancing Act”, Courtesy of Dominika Roseclay, Pexels.com, CC0 License

Burnout, Boundaries, and Balance: Navigating Codependency at Work

Between deadlines and competing demands, responsibilities at work can destabilize us and cause us to feel overwhelmed when serving the marketplace with our gifts. This may encumber us with an unnecessary burden of responsibility, goading us into codependency at work, trying to save the world and our workplace.

Although there are tasks to manage, codependency at work can tempt us to overcompensate for the actions or inertia of others with personal investments of time and effort we cannot afford. Simply doing more doesn’t make us more productive or effective, but rather strains resolve if we continually extinguish fires outside the realm of our responsibility.

However, when we channel our resources into the pursuits where we are graced by God, we can experience greater fulfillment in the work that we do, individually and with others.

While we may be loosely familiar with how codependency sabotages relationships, its poison can also infiltrate our places of business. Codependency at work prompts us to reach past our colleagues, taking on what is not ours to carry.

It deprives others of responsibility and the opportunity to grow their gifts in the roles they serve on our teams. We may have good intentions, but a codependent desire to control environments and outcomes can actually work against us. It deconstructs the sense of teamwork that causes our places of business to thrive and be fruitful.

Burnout.

Furthermore, codependency at work has the potential to produce burnout in us. The lack of boundaries and balance leads us to assume more responsibility than we may be graced to fulfill. Instead of feeling accomplished, codependency at work strains us and multiplies resentment over time, resulting in burnout, decreased productivity, and sometimes an increase in low mood associated with depression.

Thankfully, we can revisit codependency at work by allowing the Holy Spirit to reset our vision concerning our role on a team. Just like the interdependent nature of Christ’s Body has many members, we must celebrate the value of each contributor, realizing that each teammate has a portion of grace, gift, and skill to devote to their realm of responsibility to benefit the whole.

Boundaries.

We need God’s wisdom to discern what is ours to own and how to make a distinction between supporting others at work without codependent control. When we ask, the Holy Spirit will help us to release such unnecessary burdens, nurture healthy boundaries, and build better balance in life and work.

We navigate it with the gifts and grace He’s given. His wisdom empowers us to assess and place boundaries around the time and energy we afford to people, projects, or pursuits. The Holy Spirit will reveal practical ways to revise boundaries at work to maximize our successes for God’s glory.

Balance.

God has privileged His sons and daughters with the ability to embrace His presence as we form godly decisions. He has also furnished all that we need to thrive in a godly and fulfilling life. Embracing this promise requires balance.

This doesn’t mean that everything in our lives or work gets equal time and attention. Instead, we follow the Spirit’s guidance in stewarding our priorities and resources while releasing others to flourish in the domain where they are assigned.

Help for codependency at work.

God is concerned with each aspect of your being. Your work life is not exempt. Where you may have experienced codependency at work, you don’t have to sabotage yourself, your career, or the places where you serve with your gifts.

Help is available, even as you scan this site for resources to overcome codependency at work. Schedule an appointment with a professional counselor at Newport Beach Christian Counseling to support you with recovering from burnout, establishing boundaries, and finding your healthy balance.

Photos:
“Collab”, Courtesy of Jud Mackrill, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Planning”, Courtesy of KOBU Agency, Unsplash.com, CC0 License