Ringing in the Holidays: Recognizing the Signs of Substance Abuse

HE_holiday-drinking_s4x3_leadThe holidays can be a time of great joy and togetherness, but they can also bring about feelings of stress and higher emotion. While many people are able to take these situations in stride, others have a more difficult time coping. This can lead to increased drinking or drug use. In addition, holiday parties can be an easy way to mask excessive drinking as being social or getting caught up in a good time. Recognizing that a friend or family member may be engaging in substance abuse can help you to get them the help that they need to recover.

Acting secretively or suspiciously. You know your loved one’s normal behaviors and what seems out of the ordinary. When someone is misusing drugs or alcohol they often become more secretive as they hide their use or its effects. Whereas they are usually mingling and interacting at a party, they may become more withdrawn and disappear for periods of time.

Becoming more aggressive, anxious, or paranoid. Substance abuse can impact mental health and behavior. Take note if they seem to get angry more easily and have been getting into fights or arguments. Are they jumpy and anxious when others are around? Do they seem to be paranoid or fearful of what is to come? Drug abuse can cause sudden mood swings or changes in personality.

Slacking on responsibilities or missing appointments. While under the influence, the person may be late for meetings, have poor attendance at work or school, and not be performing at their usual level. They may begin neglecting their responsibilities and have less interest in things that they used to enjoy.

Changes in physical appearance. Substance abuse can lead to changes in appetite, bloodshot or glossy eyes, sweating, nausea, unusual smelling breath, puffy face, pale skin, and more. The person may not keep up with personal hygiene as well as they once did. In addition, their speech may be slurred and they may have difficulty remembering.

Making excuses for behavior. To hide their substance use, they may always have an excuse. It could be to relax, de-stress, or celebrate. They may downplay how much they have had to drink or blame incidents on another cause. It is important to stay alert and recognize when these stories may not line up or seem unusual.

If you feel that your loved one may have a substance abuse problem, counseling can help them to overcome these issues. They can work through challenges that they are facing in a safe, supportive environment and develop healthier, more effective ways of coping. The counselor can help to get to the root of problems and manage underlying issues. They can also help families to build stronger relationships and be supportive of recovery efforts.

Early detection of substance abuse can help to prevent it from developing into addiction or causing more serious problems. Educating yourself on signs, symptoms, and ways to get help can allow you to identify potential issues and be proactive in addressing them. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, Safe Harbor Christian Counseling can help you find your way. Learn more effective strategies for controlling or overcoming your substance use and healthier ways to deal with stress and life’s challenges. Visit www.safeharbor1.com or call 1-800-305-2089 to learn more and schedule an appointment with one of our counselors today.

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Making Friends: Helping Children Improve Peer Relationships

PlayDateTo some children, making friends comes very naturally. They seem to always be surrounded by others and interact very well. For other children, this can be more of a challenge. They’re not sure what to say or how to act or may be lacking self-confidence. Friendships are an integral part of a well-balanced life and positive social interactions. Helping your child to develop these essential skills can have a long-lasting effect and benefit them throughout their lives.

  • Be a positive role model: Set a good example for your children by letting them see how you interact with others. Show support for friends and family, be compassionate, and work through challenges in a healthy way. Model appropriate behaviors for being a friend.
  • Help them to problem solve: It can be tempting to want to fix everything and protect your child from getting hurt, but this does not help them in the long run. Rather than solving problems for them, work together to come up with solutions. Discuss how to respond to challenging situations, appropriate responses, and different ways they can approach things. Encourage them to work things out but be ready to step in should things become more serious.
  • Plan play dates: Invite one or two children over to your home to play. This way your child can put in place some of the skills they have been working on in a safer, more comfortable environment. Find out who they like spending time with and activities they enjoy. Be there to support problem solving and provide small prompts to help them along if necessary.
  • Capitalize on teachable moments: Look for opportunities to discuss friendships through books, movies, television shows, or things you see in the community. This can be a great way to for kids to discuss their thoughts, feelings, and responses. Talk about what happened and different scenarios for dealing with the situation. Guide them in building social skills and understanding how to effectively interact with others and respond in various situations.
  • Teach about bullying: Educate your child on what it means to be a bully and to be bullied. Raising their awareness can help them to be more alert to these situations and tailor their own behavior so they are not bullying others. It can also help them to make friends by understanding how to be a better friend.
  • Seek counseling: If you fear that your child’s social skills are inhibiting their ability to make and keep friends, consider counseling. A counselor can work with your child to build these skills, use their strengths, and overcome weaknesses. They can offer additional support and strategies for social interactions and behavior. In addition, they can help to get to the root of problems that you may have been unaware of and provide solutions.

All parents want their children to thrive and be happy. With the right support and interventions, they can guide their child’s development and help them to flourish. If your child is struggling, the professionals at Safe Harbor Christian Counseling are here to help. Trained to meet the social, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs of children, counselors can work with your child on a wide range of issues to promote positive growth and wellbeing. Contact Safe Harbor Christian Counseling at 1-800-305-2089 to find out more about our counseling or set up an appointment.

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Regaining Strength Following Divorce

Marriage therapy. Couple with an advisor.Going through divorce is a painful and life-changing process. You are forced to cope with major changes and figure out how to begin again. Whether it was initiated by you, your spouse, or was a mutual decision, it can still be challenging to deal with. But divorce doesn’t have to keep you down; it can be an opportunity to rediscover yourself, your interests, and your goals. Healing takes time but learning how to be proactive in the process can help guide the way.

Allow yourself to grieve: You don’t have to always be the strong one. Divorce and loss hurt. Let yourself be sad, mad, frustrated, and a wide array of other feelings. This is normal. In order to move on, you must first deal with the present and acknowledge how you feel. But don’t let yourself get too caught up in feeling bad. Set a time frame and once that time is up, make a conscious effort to start moving on.

Lean on friends and family: There is nothing wrong with asking for help or seeking support. Talk through your feeling and frustrations. Turn to others who have gone through similar situations for insight into how they dealt with challenges and began rebuilding. Keeping everything bottled up and isolating yourself from others can increase risk of depression and make it more difficult to get back into the swing of daily life.

Do things that you enjoy: Make time to pick up old hobbies and interests. If you love painting but have been putting it off, break out your paints and express yourself. Join a fitness group or photography club, plant a garden, start running, or get lost in your favorite book. Boost your mood by focusing on things that make you happy and help you to stay involved. Try new things and set goals to stay motivated and give yourself a renewed sense of purpose and drive.

Focus on your wellbeing: You may not have much of an appetite or may want to sleep all the time, but try to get back into familiar routines. Make sure you are eating well-balanced meals, engaging in regular exercise, staying hydrated, and getting an adequate amount of sleep. Focusing on your basic needs can help your body to stay healthy, give you more energy, and support a more positive outlook.

Seek counseling: If sadness has continued to linger and your efforts to boost your mood and move on have had little effect, consider counseling. A counselor can help you to work through your feelings and the challenges that you face. They can offer strategies for moving on and regaining control of your life. It may be just what you need to get your life back on track and begin healing.

You don’t have to go through divorce alone. The team at Safe Harbor Christian Counseling is here to provide you with the support and guidance you need to deal with these changes in your life, cope with your emotions, and implement strategies for making the most of your future. If your divorce has left you feeling lost, contact Safe Harbor Christian Counseling at 1-800-305-2089 to schedule an appointment and learn more about our counseling services.

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Planning for the Future: How Premarital Counseling Can Strengthen Your Relationship

premarital_mainIt can take time to find that one person you want to spend the rest of your life with. The person who makes you want to be a better person, encourages you to follow your dreams, sticks with you through good and bad, and whom you want to create a future with. The decision to get married is a big step, though. You want to ensure that you are prepared for this commitment and all that it brings.

Premarital counseling can help you to do just that. There does not have to be something specifically wrong to seek counseling. It does not mean that your relationship is faltering, but rather a way to help prevent that. Being proactive can strengthen your bond with your partner and support a better marriage.

  • Work through potential problems before they erupt

A counselor can guide you through disagreements you may be having and common problems couples face. It gives you a chance to express your opinions and work through differences. There is room for compromise and adjustment so that you can ensure you are on the same page going forward. If you are experiencing small arguments, counseling can help you to resolve these situations before they turn into something more significant. Ignoring these issues can make things more challenging in the future.

  • Talk in a safe environment

It is different discussing opinions at home versus in a counselor’s office. A counselor’s office provides a more neutral territory and a non-biased opinion. You can feel safer opening up and being honest because the counselor is there to help you work through your feelings and differences. They can teach you strategies for more effective communication and problem solving. That way you can be more proactive about confronting issues in the future and working through them.

  • Learn more about the other person

You may think that you know everything about your soon-to-be spouse, but do you really? Have you addressed finances, children, spirituality, jealousy, or other tough issues? Premarital counseling can bring these issues to light and allow you to express your opinion on the matter and see what your partner thinks as well. Then together you can determine how you will move forward or adjust to your differences in opinion. The counselor may bring up topics you hadn’t considered before but that are important in a marriage.

Learn how to appreciate one another in new ways and create a stronger vision and path for your future together. Premarital counseling can be a great way to further support your decision to get married and grow closer to one another. You can feel more confident that you share the same views for your life together and that your differences will not stand in the way.

Before you say “I do,” consider premarital counseling through Safe Harbor Christian Counseling. We will work with you and your partner to overcome any challenges, express your opinions and beliefs, and create a more solid plan for your future together. Contact Safe Harbor Christian Counseling at 1-800-305-2089 or visit www.safeharbor1.com to schedule an appointment and learn how counseling can benefit all stages of your marriage and life.

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How to Relieve Test Anxiety and Support Children in Success

test-anxietyWith the school year well underway, students are beginning to take more exams on the material that they have learned. While it is normal to be slightly nervous or anxious before the test begins, many students quickly overcome this and proceed with the exam. However, for some students, the thought of a test brings on anxiety that can have physical and mental ramifications. It is not something that passes after a short time and can impact their performance.

What are the symptoms of test anxiety?

Your child may have a variety of different symptoms depending on the amount of stress or pressure that they feel. Physical symptoms may include headache, accelerated heartbeat, rapid breathing, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, clammy hands, or lightheadedness. The child may feel scared or helpless and may even trigger a panic attack if they are unable to calm themselves. They may feel as though their mind has gone blank and have trouble concentrating on test questions.

How you can help your child feel more confident

Oftentimes children are worried about getting a poor grade, not having studied enough, or not knowing the material. Parents can help to reduce this pressure by supporting children during test preparation and providing positive encouragement. It is not likely that a single test will make or break their entire grade. It is usually the culmination of multiple scores, so avoid putting excess pressure on them to perform well.

  • Help them study: When students know that a test is coming up, help them to review materials daily. Breaking it down into smaller chunks over several days can help them to more effectively learn the content. Ensure that they are doing their homework, projects, and assigned readings so they are caught up and practicing what they have learned. Help to quiz them on content and give extra attention to material they are unsure about.
  • Promote positive thinking: Remind your child that they have been studying daily and know the material. If they are concerned about failing, help to negate these thoughts by pointing out previously good grades on exams and projects. Encourage them to point out the positive things they have been doing to prepare.
  • Practice test-taking skills: Answering the easiest questions first, jotting down facts or figures in the margins or on scrap paper at the start of things they don’t want to forget, and crossing out wrong answers can help reduce anxiety. This allows them to spend more time focusing on questions that may be more difficult while boosting their confidence as they answer questions they immediately know. Eliminating wrong answers can help to narrow down choices and allow them to problem-solve more effectively to pick the correct one.
  • Teach calming techniques: Help your child to learn deep breathing exercises or meditation to relax. By calming their body and mind they can improve their focus and promote more positive thinking. This can help to reduce stress and alleviate anxiety symptoms. Make sure they get plenty of sleep and eat a nutritious breakfast the morning of the test so they are feeling at their best.

Consider counseling

If your child is struggling to overcome their anxiety, counseling can help them to learn more effective strategies and manage their thoughts. They can work to build their confidence and self-esteem when facing tests and other challenging situations. If ignored, test anxiety can negatively impact their school performance and overall wellbeing. Counseling can help them to better deal with negative thoughts, fears, and symptoms associated with test anxiety.

The professionals at Safe Harbor Christian Counseling are experienced in helping children to enhance their school performance and alleviate stress and anxiety. If you are concerned that your child is not performing as well as they could be, counseling can provide them with the support and guidance they need to excel. Contact Safe Harbor Christian Counseling at 1-800-305-2089 or visit www.safeharbor1.com to learn more about how we can help or to schedule an appointment.

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