Healthy Relationships

(published on InnerSeed)

Becoming an expert in anything usually means one has failed repeatedly, learned, evolved and adjusted. So how does one become an expert into having ‘healthy relationships’, whether in family, friend or romantic context? Reflecting back, we can think of Abraham Maslow, a great American Psychologist, who developed the hierarchy of needs theory. This theory suggests that for one to live a healthy and happy life, one requires five basic principles. One of those principles is defined as the need for love and belongingness, which we can relate to interpersonal relationships. Love and belongingness are most definite foundational to a healthy relationship.

In couples and individual counseling, we often start off with discussing core elements of obtaining and maintaining a healthy relationship.  Although micro definitions of a healthy relationship may differ based on the individual situation, there are aspects that play a big role in obtaining and maintaining a healthy relationship:

Trust

Is trust earned or given? Well, that depends on the individual, one’s life experiences, perspective and of course the current relationship they are in. What is trust? Blindly having faith that one would never intentionally do harm to you or to the relationship? Is it respect for each other, beliefs, values and norms? Or does trust simply refer to: I can rely on you to be by my side through the good, the bad and the ugly? Whatever you choose as your subjective definition of trust, in a healthy relationship all these elements are intertwined. Sometimes ‘trust’ has not come to full development in a relationship, which does not mean, it can’t grow into a healthy relationship. It simply says: we got work to do. Reflect, be patient and allow each partner to evolve in the relationship. How can we manage to get there? Compassion and forgiveness. Take a few steps back and look at your relationship with perspective, two individual lives merging together and finding way to grow closer.

Partnership

“Those who play together, stay together’. Sometimes one or the other partner gets introduced as ‘the better half’, in my opinion, there is no such thing as a better half. Both partners are equal halves in the relationship and carry both the responsibility to put the best foot forward and ‘play together’. Showing interest in one’s hobbies and dreams, participating in an activity one might not particular like, but the partner loves, stimulates growth and closeness in the relationship. Sit down together and discuss things you have in common or like to try out (even better!) and devote time to that activity as much as possible. In arguments, try to take a step back and reverse roles, to see the situation in perspective. Ask yourself, is the argument we are having right now going to be worth mentioning in five years? You will find by applying these little changes, it may become easier to pick your battles. Support each other and remind yourself to develop positive constructive communication for growth, as this is foundational to partnership in a healthy long term relationship.

Meeting half way

This might seem like an obvious statement. Of course, we are meeting half way, we will compromise! How can you be sure, that you are meeting your partner half way? The answer to that question is: Do you live your life in balance? Balance is to walk towards each other, in the same pace and with understanding, patience and space for growth. Compromises should be made, but be aware that you are walking towards your partner, compromises should be equal and in balance. When one or the other partner feels, that he or she is making more compromises, it is time to have a sit down and discuss the emotional impact on the individual and the relationship. Meeting half way, does not mean, letting yourself completely go and pushing aside your ethics, morals, standards and most certainly not crossing boundaries. Express boundaries and explain why these are your boundaries. Listen with an open mind and heart and always remember’ ‘Where there is love, we walk together’.

Resilience

Whether you have been dating for a few months or you have been married for twenty years, resilience is the key to keep yourself standing up straight, head held high and keep the desire to develop your relationship further. One develops resilience over time by overcoming challenges in life, work and previous relationships. Think back to when you went through something extremely though and you got through it. Which skills did you use to get through that situation? What made you keep your head above water and what did you learn? Remind yourself, that the strength that once was, is inside of you.

Gratitude

In my practice, I ask couples: ‘what are your grateful for with regards to your life and partner?’ One or both often giggle and say; well he/she knows, what I am grateful for! Maybe he or she does know, but it’s important to remind each other of those things you are grateful for. Individually, I always encourage writing gratitude journals, which create a moment in the day to think about the blessings. The beauty of keeping such a journal, is that you can always read back and be reminded of your blessings. When it comes to inter-relationship communication, I encourage couples to say out loud (several times a week!) to each other what they are grateful for in their relationship and about each other. These exercises are helpful to live your life with presence in the moment, yet provide growth in your relationship.

About the Author:

Jeanina is a Dutch Counseling Psychologist and Holistic Practitioner. She is the founder of Blue Lights Wellness, located in JLT. Her aim is to provide the community and cozy and nonjudgmental environment, to be heard and seen as a ‘whole’ and encourage self -development. Jeanina has a BSc in Psychology & Education, MSc in Psychology, Post graduate diploma’s in Counseling & Psychotherapy, Family & Couples Counseling. Jeanina is currently completing her Doctorate degree in Counseling & Psychotherapy. She is trained in CBT, Solution Focused Therapy, ABA Therapy, Mindfulness, Theta Healing and has studied, trained and worked under supervision over ten years in; The Netherlands, UK, US and UAE. Her sessions range from 55-70 minutes depending on the need and the situation of the client. She works with individuals, couples and students. To book a session with Jeanina please sent an email to info@bluelights.ae or visit www.bluelights.ae.

EMDR & Trauma: An Integrative Approach to Therapy

Everyone at one point, experienced stressful event. It might have been a minor incident like a spoiled coffee on shirt just before the meeting, or something slightly more affecting like a car crash. Fewer have gone through major distressing situations like natural disaster or war. The traumas of small or big effects, are accompanying our life since birth. Wait a minute? “No” – you might say- “My life has been quite peaceful and mostly happy, and I can’t really relate to those statements at all. That might be true and indeed, most of the people are able to cope with traumas and distress with inherent coping mechanisms. Most of us would therefore, agree with wise statements like “Time cures wounds”, and “What does not kill you, strengthens you”. Yet, if we look closely at our life there might be some events, which we forgot or do not treat as traumatic, or in some cases have been successfully repressed to our unconscious. If they are closed and processed to the “past shelve” by our skillful mind, that’s great. However, the integration and processing abilities of our brain might sometimes be jeopardized and result in some emotional states or thoughts left unprocessed. In such case, later on, in our present life, we might find it difficult to deal with daily life stressors. It may show that during intense moments our mind comes back to those forgotten but not processed events or feelings and experiences them as if they were still present. We might unconsciously be triggered by small distresses to experience emotions related to much bigger traumas from past all over again.

In general, there are two types of traumas that affect people, namely Traumas with capital “T”, which are the colossal events causing distress in global understanding, like catastrophes, natural disasters, physical abuse and life threating events. These happenings are usually related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) and recognized as such. People experiencing Traumas of such kind, are usually met with compassion and relevant care. There are, however, traumas of a different nature which are being experienced subjectively. People going through difficult relationships, psychological abuse, bullying, mobbing or distress of any other kind on daily basis, might react similarly to the ones experiencing Trauma with capital T.

These experiences may significantly interfere with their health and well being. Subjective traumas may not be seen or recognized by significant others or even by a person her/himself. Yet, the powerful emotions related to it may affect negatively self-concept, self-esteem and self-efficacy, and therefore have adverse impact on various life aspects. Those unprocessed emotional states may lead to anxiety, phobias, lack of acceptance and strong cognitive dissonance as well as dissociations in both children and adults.

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is one of the most researched forms of psychotherapy with strong scientific background supporting its effectiveness. EMDR incorporates eye movement or other types of bipolar stimulation, in order to encourage brain to process information from all physiological brain regions.  Hence, it is regarded as a holistic approach to psychotherapy, which addresses all three composites of human being – Cognition, Affective States and Physiology. It engages therapist and client to work together on the matrix of memories. EMDR is recommended by World Health Organization.

EMDR sessions are available with our EMDR Therapist & Family Counselor Magdalena Mosanya

For bookings please sent us an email on info@bluelights.ae

Is Mindfulness For You?

Is Mindfulness for you?

If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety or insomnia, you probably would have thought about Mindfulness. Mindfulness means focusing your attention inwards and maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and the surroundings.

The key components of mindfulness are thus awareness of one’s current feelings and thoughts in the present moment, a deliberate and conscious direction of attention towards them, and acceptance in a non-judgmental way. During mindfulness, you are encouraged to tune into what you are feeling or thinking in the present moment, reserving any judgment and avoiding ruminating about the past or daydreaming about the future. A growing body of research points to the numerous benefits of mindfulness; practicing it on a regular basis can not only relieve depression and anxiety and boost energy levels but has also been shown to change your brain structure. Most studies confirm that group courses may be just as beneficial as individual sessions but practicing mindfulness on your own could make it easier for you to focus and remain aware of your present feelings and thoughts rather than be distracted by your surroundings. If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression or tend to ruminate excessively, mindfulness can greatly improve your mental state.

In terms of duration, there are no set rules about how long you should practice mindfulness but studies demonstrate that 8 weeks of mindfulness practice can lead to long-lasting brain changes along with increased well-being. However, even a single mindfulness session can greatly enhance your mental health; a study from 2015, for instance, found that a session of mindfulness meditation leads to decreases in negative mood.

In short, if you would like to reduce the brain chatter, enjoy lower stress levels, greater focus and enhanced well-being and are willing to dedicate half an hour daily, then mindfulness might be just the perfect match for you.

So, how can you know if mindfulness is something that could work for you? In general, everyone can practice mindfulness, regardless of age, gender or background. The only to find out if Mindfulness is for you, is to give it a try!

Blue Lights Wellness offers you, individual Mindfulness Sessions, with a duration of 50 minutes, where the practitioner will guide you through meditation and focus on your breathing and awareness. Individual sessions are offered as single session or as 4 biweekly program!

Introductory offer of 10% discount on your first session till December 5th available now! Book your session with our practitioner Jeanina via info@bluelights.ae

Student Counseling Unraveled

Often times when we talk about student counseling, one can probably summarize some of  the challenges students face during their college experience. Some students receive parental advise & support and others don’t, they just live life each day using their personal judgment and copings kills. Sometimes it is just not enough. Student counseling fore mostly focuses on the student as an individual, yet it may positively impact functioning of the family as a whole. Living in a Social Media dominated time, many students experience cyber bullying, struggle with self image & low self esteem.  Students, who go to college abroad, may experience increased amounts of stress due to relocation, isolation due to loss of friendships, adapting into a new environment without direct support of family and loneliness. Other challenges may even become ‘how to manage my monthly budget wisely’, ‘pressures of passing exams with good grades’ or an increase in feelings of anxiety when doubt arises if the right education has been chosen.

Day to day, different kinds of challenges encounter students; one will encounter people of different backgrounds and cultures within and outside the school walls, your relate and interact with people on different basis and you make friends and steer away from some. Being a student exposes you to a new phase in life from a different angle and oftentimes receiving support from an external counselor can be beneficial. Someone who will listen to you without judgement, see you, hear you, will let you laugh and cry, will work together with you on developing your coping skills and teach you implementations of mindfulness to reduce anxiety and stress.

It is never too soon or too late to reach out for support! If any or all of these challenges resonate with you please contact us on info@bluelights.ae to schedule a session.

Blue Lights Wellness offers reduced student rates for packages up to the age of 23, which means these rates are as well applicable to you if you are a fresh graduate!

With Love & Understanding,

Jeanina

Why is seeking help beneficial when dealing with stress?

We all deal with stress from time to time, and while sometimes a small amount of stress can actually motivate us, much prolonged stress can be damaging to both our physical and mental health and managing our stress can be complicated and time consuming. It is often challenging to understand what the root of our stress is, and also overcoming or dealing with stress and stressful situations. Stress really depends on the individual and is so different for each person. What may cause stress for one person, may not be as stressful for another, and vice-versa. Most stressful situations are associated with a lack of control in a situation or a change, sometimes a positive change can still feel stressful, such as getting married, or having a baby. These are generally supposed to be happy times during someone’s life, however they are huge changes and much planning and organization normally goes into these new life events which may seem overwhelming and stressful.  Other types of stress can be categorized into financial, mental, emotional, physical, social/ relationship and traumatic stress. If people are unsure how to cope with their stress, often bad habits begin to form, such as using alcohol, drugs, smoking or restricting or overeating food to seek comfort. Additionally, stress can emotionally affect us, leaving us feeling anxious, agitated, overwhelmed, frustrated or angry. Often many individuals will begin to isolate, avoid people or social situations, develop a lowered self-esteem, and lack of confidence. What many people do not know, is that stress can not only affect us emotionally, however physically we can begin to see it, from weight gain/loss, sweating excessively, difficulty sleeping, and experiencing pain that is not from an injury or physical activity.  Too much stress can cause serious health issues if not managed properly.

Why seeking a counsellor can be helpful? – Well, we all fall victim to talking our friends or families ear off and ranting to them about what is going on in our life on a regular basis, however many keep it on the outside layer, and do not divulge into the feelings, emotions or how they are actually coping with these stressful situations. Why? Well embarrassment, judgement, shame, and ego can stand in the way. It is challenging to be vulnerable, especially to someone who is so close to you. Seems weird, I know. But think of a struggle you have dealt with and if you talked to a friend or relative about how you were truly coping with it? Were you able to be open and honest?  Maybe yes, maybe no. Talking with a counsellor, may seem intimidating, and is a scary thought for many out there, however it could be the best decision you make. Sometimes It’s easier to talk to a stranger than to friends or relatives, and a counsellor gives you the time to talk, cry, think, and be open and honest about your issues in a non-judgmental atmosphere. It’s an opportunity to look at your situation in a different way. Talking with a professional about the difficulties you’re experiencing can help you understand any underlying issues or patterns in your life that may be causing your stress and identify your personal stress triggers and ways of coping and dealing with them.

A few tips to help manage your stress;

  • Keep a journal
  • Balanced diet & eliminate processed foods
  • Regular exercise & hydration
  • Connect yourself socially – surround yourself with positive engagement
  • Devote 30 minutes a day to meditation and/or  “me time

Put yourself first! There is only one you and we all deserve to shine!

If you need any support, do not hesitate to reach out to Blue Lights Wellness via info@bluelights.ae or give us a call on 04 243 2930.

With love & health,
Erin

‘Be The Best Version of You – in Balance’

Hello! My name is Erin, I am fresh to Dubai, moving from Canada’s brisk cold winters in the Rocky Mountains to sunny, beautiful beaches. I am so delighted to be a team member at Blue Lights as their Wellness Practitioner.  I cannot wait to meet and work with you and help you on your journey to happiness and self-love, ultimate wellness ‘inside out”!

I was recently at the gym and in the change room read a sign that said “ Be the best version of you” – Cliché, I know, and I know that a lot of you reading are probably thinking, “ yeah, heard that before.” Well hear me out- I have also heard this NUMEROUS times and never thought anything of it, until reading it over to myself a few times, and for some reason, in that very moment, something just clicked. I felt so inspired by this simple, and obvious phrase. – but how many of us put focus solely on ourselves? It seems to be impossible when trying to balance your day-to-day life.

Have we really taken the time to think about the true meaning and how something so simple, as “be the best version of yourself” could change so much for each individual on an emotional, physical, spiritual and mental level? – probably not.   As the famous Steve Jobs said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” There is so much truth behind this. As tough and challenging as life may seem, in the grand scheme of things life is short, so why wouldn’t we try and make it the best life we possibly can? Now, don’t get me wrong, LIFE CAN BE TOUGH and some days you just want to sleep the day away, isolate from the universe, drink, smoke, binge eat, or whatever it may be, we are trying to fill a void or escape our mind just to have a little rest from over powering thoughts, feelings and emotions that our day to day life brings. But why do we do this to ourselves? What alternative things can we do to fill these voids?

Well the answer is, finding things that we love but also being truly happy and loving yourself as the individual you are, not feeling the constant need to be better, be something else or someone else. The key that opens this door is gaining confidence, self-esteem, self- love, self-respect, self-worth and peace with who you are today. Because, frankly, we are all unique and beautiful humans who deserve a chance to show the universe who we are and by being successful in loving who we are, just the way we are, we can attract the most positive individuals and situations into our life. These simple steps can be life changing… however, it all sounds all peachy, but nothing worth doing in life is ever easy, if you want to be the best version of yourself, it will take work, a lot of hard work, breaking out of your comfort zone, trying things you have never tried before, taking chances and risks that will scare the crap out of you, but at the same time doesn’t that thought kind of excite you? It scares me, but I feel motivated just thinking about it! For this to happen, we must trust ourselves, trust that our path will show how to connect in our future. The struggles now, will resolve, but it will take work, dedication and time. We need to be self-aware that we are not ever just settling on something because we don’t think we can do something, or we give up. – Everything is possible, every single person is unique and different in their own way, every person has a purpose in this world, some people’s life paths may seem more challenging than others, but we must focus on our journey and our happiness because when we begin to focus and compare ourselves with other’s successes, we tend to neglect our own and when we listen to other’s opinions, we start to lose ourselves, second guess ourselves and detach from our inner self. Our voices are so very powerful and can change the world, but how do we do this if we have no voice, well the truth is, is we all have a voice and all our voices have meaning and should always be heard.

Now, let’s be realistic for one moment here, this requires focus and discipline, two things that are very challenging especially in the society we live in, it is so easy to give in to distraction and instant satisfaction- easy and addictive.

This is a road to self-discovery and will not happen overnight. Ask for help when you need it, take courses, read books, sit on the beach, exercise your body and feed and hydrate your body with nutritious foods (But… don’t forget to indulge sometimes- it’s totally normal and acceptable!!! I <3 French fries)

I am here to guide you on your path to happiness and finding yourself, loving yourself and being your own number one fan.  It will be rewarding, challenging, sometimes exhausting journey you will embark on, however once you find balance and happiness within yourself, your mind will be clearer, and lighter and you can begin to embrace what this beautiful world is all about. Most importantly you will love you, for maybe the first time ever.

All of my sessions will be designed on an individual needs basis. We will explore all aspects of your life and focus on negative self-talk and begin to translate it into positive self -talk through a variety of techniques that meet each individuals goals and needs.

With Love, Health and Wellness,

Erin