Tag Archives: Healthy Relationships

How to Be Supportive Without “Fixing”

It is very human to want to help someone, particularly someone you care about, when you see them stressed out or in pain.  It is also very human to seek validation for your own experiences.  Can you recall a time you needed to be heard, and someone told you what you “should” do instead?  Not very helpful, huh?

As illustrated in the short video below, we can use empathy to be present for others during their struggles as to not fall into “fixing” mode- although well-intentioned, unless your thoughts and advice are requested, you should avoid giving them as to not alienate the person opening up to you, because advice may not be what they are seeking, or what they feel they need right then.  Do not assume what they may need- ask them how you can help them in the moment to support their feelings, not to fix the issue.

Be an active listener, seeking the message being sent to you, instead of thinking of what you want to say next.  You can reflect to the speaker that you heard them by repeating back in your words what they said, asking for clarification, and even just saying things like, “wow, that sounds rough,” and “what a difficult day you had.”  Doing so illustrates that you represent a safe space where the speaker can open up, instead of a person who may be judging or not understanding them.  You can also ask open ended questions, such as, “what happened next?” and “how did that make you feel?”  These invite the speaker to fully express their feelings, and helps you truly hear them.

A discussion between you and the person you care for should occur to help you both articulate the ways that you like to give and receive support in your relationship, and to create space for you both to address issues together, instead of working against each other.  This is pertinent practice for you to advocate for yourself when someone is trying to support you, and for you to know how to best assist someone when called on to do so.

For additional information on supporting and not fixing, check out the following:

It’s Not About The Nail                              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4EDhdAHrOg

Stop Trying to Fix Things, Just Listen! https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/skills-healthy-relationships/201606/stop-trying-fix-things-just-listen

Relationship Advice: How to Stop “Fixing” and Start Listening https://www.growingself.com/stop-fixing/

How to show up for a friend without trying to fix their problems, according to a therapist                         https://hellogiggles.com/lifestyle/how-to-support-a-friend-without-fixing-problems/

Moving From Racism and Discrimination to Healing and Inclusion

If you have been paying attention to the news and social media outlets in the past week, you undoubtedly have seen events unfolding around policy brutality, racial injustice, and frustrations of many boiling over as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.  One pressing issue on the minds of many is regarding privilege.

Privilege is unseen to those that have it, and we each have to be mindful not to diminish or dismiss experiences, hardships or traumas of others just because it is not our direct experience.  To do so is alienating, and furthers the divide between humans.  Seeking and succeeding in solidarity requires us to give focus to the traits and experiences that highlight commonalities among us instead of solely focusing on what makes us different, and treating those differences as negatives or deficiencies.  Appreciation of those differences will also serve to connect us, if we allow space to appreciate individual and cultural uniqueness.

As the days move forward, many difficult conversations will be had about privilege, community and law enforcement relations, and racial inequality.  You may experience uncertainty about what to do for yourself or others, engage in self-evaluation about personal and implicit biases, and feel diminished hope because the pain feels too great.  However, there are means to maintain hope and contribute to move our community forward.

Ways you can take care of yourself include taking a pause and logging off social media accounts, limiting your news intake, and avoiding comment sections if the content overwhelms you.  Take a moment to think before you type and respond, take deep breaths and disconnect if you need to, and allow yourself to revisit content at a later time. It is okay to ask others about their experiences to gain awareness of perspectives you may not be attuned to, and allow this to bolster your relationships and self-growth.

Ways you can support others include checking in with your family, friends and neighbors, encouraging them to engage in self-care, and linking them to resources if you suspect they are struggling with their mental health.  Hearing your loved ones out on their experiences and thoughts about race relations is a very validating and supportive way to be present for them.

If you or anyone you know is struggling at this time, you can text HOME to 741741 for confidential chat support from trained staff, or call 1-800-273-8255 (available 24/7).

NOVACares Lauches New Mental Health Referral Database for Students, Faculty and Staff

The NOVACares Office is proud to announce that the NOVACares Mental Health Provider Search Database (“NOVACARES Counseling Referral System”) has been upgraded and updated for a more productive search for local mental health providers. The NOVACares Office has personally contacted the 157 providers, as of this writing, in the database to verify their license to practice and requested that they update their profile to include changes in insurances accepted, sliding scale/reduced fees for NOVA, waiting time, accepting new patients, and if they are offering telehealth services. Our listed providers include providers that service Virginia, Maryland, Washington DC, and beyond. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to use the database to locate providers matching their search criteria. The NOVACares Office is still recruiting providers to be listed in the database and will conduct an extensive outreach campaign over the summer and fall.

To start your search for a mental health provider visit:  https://www.nvcc.edu/novacares/index.html 

Click on Mental Health Provider Database on the left bar.

 

 

 

 

NOVACARES COUNSELING REFERRAL SYSTEM

If you are at risk in anyway (e.g., considering suicide or at risk of other physical harm) please dial 9-1-1 or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. You may also visit the your nearest emergency room or contact NOVA police at 703-764-5000. If you would like additional non-emergency support for yourself or another student that you are concerned about, please file a NOVACares report at www.nvcc.edu/novacares.

The providers participating in the database supply their own information about their services. We cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of the information provided. We are also unable to endorse any particular provider that is listed. It will be important to verify information with the provider that most interests you, including fees and other arrangements. Contact your insurance company if you need to ensure that the clinician you select is a participating provider.

Setting and Maintaining Healthy Boundaries


Boundaries are absolutely vital for healthy relationships- most importantly, your relationship with yourself.  It is a way to maintain balance in your life by learning, acknowledging and holding others to your personal limits.  This supports positive self-image and healthy self-esteem.  For most of us, it is not a skill we were taught, rather, through experience and watching others, we determine what is- and is not- acceptable for each of us.  As this skill can be challenging to develop and maintain, below are some tips from Dr. Dana Gionta for setting and maintaining healthy boundaries (courtesy of Psych Central article, 10 Ways to Build and Preserve Better Boundaries by Margarita Tartakovsky, MS):

  1. Name your limits.

You can’t set good boundaries if you’re unsure of where you stand. So identify your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual limits, Gionta said. Consider what you can tolerate and accept and what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed.  “Those feelings help us identify what our limits are.”

  1. Tune into your feelings.

Gionta has observed two key feelings in others that are red flags or cues that we’re letting go of our boundaries: discomfort and resentment. She suggested thinking of these feelings on a continuum from one to 10. Six to 10 is in the higher zone, she said.

If you’re at the higher end of this continuum, during an interaction or in a situation, Gionta suggested asking yourself, what is causing that? What is it about this interaction, or the person’s expectation that is bothering me?

Resentment usually “comes from being taken advantage of or not appreciated.” It’s often a sign that we’re pushing ourselves either beyond our own limits because we feel guilty (and want to be a good daughter or wife, for instance), or someone else is imposing their expectations, views or values on us, she said.

“When someone acts in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, that’s a cue to us they may be violating or crossing a boundary,” Gionta said.

  1. Be direct.

With some people, maintaining healthy boundaries doesn’t require a direct and clear-cut dialogue. Usually, this is the case if people are similar in their communication styles, views, personalities and general approach to life, Gionta said. They’ll “approach each other similarly.”

With others, such as those who have a different personality or cultural background, you’ll need to be more direct about your boundaries. Consider the following example: “one person feels [that] challenging someone’s opinions is a healthy way of communicating,” but to another person this feels disrespectful and tense.

There are other times you might need to be direct. For instance, in a romantic relationship, time can become a boundary issue, Gionta said. Partners might need to talk about how much time they need to maintain their sense of self and how much time to spend together.

  1. Give yourself permission.

Fear, guilt and self-doubt are big potential pitfalls, Gionta said. We might fear the other person’s response if we set and enforce our boundaries. We might feel guilty by speaking up or saying no to a family member. Many believe that they should be able to cope with a situation or say yes because they’re a good daughter or son, even though they “feel drained or taken advantage of.” We might wonder if we even deserve to have boundaries in the first place.

Boundaries aren’t just a sign of a healthy relationship; they’re a sign of self-respect. So give yourself the permission to set boundaries and work to preserve them.

  1. Practice self-awareness.

Again, boundaries are all about honing in on your feelings and honoring them. If you notice yourself slipping and not sustaining your boundaries, Gionta suggested asking yourself: What’s changed? Consider “What I am doing or [what is] the other person doing?” or “What is the situation eliciting that’s making me resentful or stressed?” Then, mull over your options: “What am I going to do about the situation? What do I have control over?”

  1. Consider your past and present.

How you were raised along with your role in your family can become additional obstacles in setting and preserving boundaries. If you held the role of caretaker, you learned to focus on others, letting yourself be drained emotionally or physically, Gionta said. Ignoring your own needs might have become the norm for you.

Also, think about the people you surround yourself with, she said. “Are the relationships reciprocal?” Is there a healthy give and take?

Beyond relationships, your environment might be unhealthy, too. For instance, if your workday is eight hours a day, but your co-workers stay at least 10 to 11, “there’s an implicit expectation to go above and beyond” at work, Gionta said. It can be challenging being the only one or one of a few trying to maintain healthy boundaries, she said. Again, this is where tuning into your feelings and needs and honoring them becomes critical.

  1. Make self-care a priority.

Gionta helps her clients make self-care a priority, which also involves giving yourself permission to put yourself first. When we do this, “our need and motivation to set boundaries become stronger,” she said. Self-care also means recognizing the importance of your feelings and honoring them. These feelings serve as “important cues about our wellbeing and about what makes us happy and unhappy.”

Putting yourself first also gives you the “energy, peace of mind and positive outlook to be more present with others and be there” for them.” And “When we’re in a better place, we can be a better wife, mother, husband, co-worker or friend.”

  1. Seek support.

If you’re having a hard time with boundaries, “seek some support, whether [that’s a] support group, church, counseling, coaching or good friends.” With friends or family, you can even make “it a priority with each other to practice setting boundaries together [and] hold each other accountable.”

Consider seeking support through resources, too. Gionta likes the following books: The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time and Boundaries in Marriage (along with several books on boundaries by the same authors).

  1. Be assertive.

Of course, we know that it’s not enough to create boundaries; we actually have to follow through. Even though we know intellectually that people aren’t mind readers, we still expect others to know what hurts us, Gionta said. Since they don’t, it’s important to assertively communicate with the other person when they’ve crossed a boundary.

In a respectful way, let the other person know what in particular is bothersome to you and that you can work together to address it, Gionta said.

  1. Start small.

Like any new skill, assertively communicating your boundaries takes practice. Gionta suggested starting with a small boundary that isn’t threatening to you, and then incrementally increasing to more challenging boundaries. “Build upon your success, and [at first] try not to take on something that feels overwhelming.”

“Setting boundaries takes courage, practice and support,” Gionta said. And remember that it’s a skill you can master.

Source:  https://psychcentral.com/lib/10-way-to-build-and-preserve-better-boundaries/

Tip of the Week: Red Flags within a Relationship

Do you know the expression “love is blinding”? This is a true statement. Even when your gut is telling you that something is wrong, you often ignore it. However, your gut is never wrong. Here are some red flags to look out for when in a relationship:
• Blames others for own faults
• Drug/ Alcohol use/abuse
• Explosive temper
• Extreme jealousy or insecurity
• Fascination with weapons
• Strong gender stereotypes
• Difficulty with authority
• Cannot express emotions verbally
• Treats partner like property/possession
• Isolates you from friends and family
• Blows up about little things
• Thinks it’s okay to resolve conflict with violence
• Checking emails, cellphones and social media without permission
• Constantly insulting or putting down partner and/or humiliating partner in public or in front of loved ones

If you or someone you know sees the warning signs in their relationship, then remember you are not alone and that you have the option to seek help. You can always reach out by contacting NOVA Sexual Assault Services (SAS) directly at nova.sas@nvcc.edu or 703-338-0834.
https://www.nvcc.edu/novacares/sas/dating.html
If you would like to learn more about this topic, join us for our Red Flag Campaign on Monday, March 2nd from 11am to 2pm in the LC Café on the Loudoun Campus. Hope to see you there! https://www.facebook.com/events/166424331470492/

Tip of the Week: Eating Disorders

thyTip of the Week: Eating Disorders

While some people may see eating disorders as simply a phase to lose weight or a media glamorized fad, eating disorders are in fact recognized as a mental disorder. It affects you not only physically, but psychologically, and socially. The impacts can be life-threatening. The three main types of eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa (limiting your food intake), Bulimia Nervosa (consuming large amounts of food in a short time followed by purging), and Binge Eating Disorder (consuming large amounts of food in a short time without purging). No matter the type of eating disorder you or a loved one may experience, it is critical to learn the alarming symptoms and seek help.

You or a loved one with an eating disorder may experience:
-Extreme weight loss or gain
-Depression and/or anxiety
-Social isolation
-Hyperactivity or impulsiveness
-Low body temperature and sensitivity to cold
-Water-electrolyte imbalance and dehydration
-Brittle nails, dry skin, and dry hair
-Irregular or absent menstruation
-Dizziness and fainting
-Headaches
-Fatigue

You may not experience all these symptoms for the disorder to become life-threatening. Help is available! For more information, go to https://www.nvcc.edu/novacares/resources.html
Or
Dial 211 on your phone 24/7 to be connected to a highly trained specialist to help you access the best local resources and services available to you.
Or
Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website for more information or chat online with a trained specialist: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/help-support. You can also call their helpline Monday- Thursday from 9am-9pm EST and Friday from 9am-5pm to speak with a trained specialist: 1-800-931-2237.

Tip of the Week: Prevention of Cyberstalking

Tip of the Week: Cyberstalking

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn: so much of our everyday life is viral! Checking and updating our accounts daily has become a normal routine, like brushing our teeth. However, we often forget the dangers that come with our social media followers. When hitting “post” we can forget the dangers of cyberstalking. Your stalker may be a stranger or someone who has an active role in your life. Along with electronic stalking and harassment, cyberstalking can also include identity theft, soliciting for sex, slander, or gathering your personal information to threaten, blackmail, or embarrass you. Cyberstalking is dangerous and can quickly escalate. Many of us have been affected or personally know someone who has. Check out the following tips to keeping yourself safe:

  1. Block any and all suspicious users
  2. Do not add or accept users that you do not know
  3. Do not respond to private messages to anyone you don’t know
  4. When posting, do not share specifics about your location.
  5. Do not share your last name, phone number, or email on online dating sites until you have met in person.

For additional resources visit:

Cyber stalking background with some smooth lines, 3D rendering, a red stop sign

https://www.nvcc.edu/novacares/resources.html

 

Healthy Relationships Week! Tip: What is an Abusive Relationship?

Abusive relationships come in all different shapes and sizes. If your partner doesn’t let you wear certain things or gets upset when you wear certain clothing in public, that is abuse. If your partner gets upset at YOU when other people give you attention you may not have wanted, that is also abuse. Physical violence isn’t the only form of abuse. To find resources or get more information on domestic violence (dating/partner violence), visit http://www.nvcc.edu/novacares/sas/dating.html. To contact a 24 hour NOVA Sexual Assault Services coordinator for free confidential support, please call 703.338.0834 or email NOVA.SAS@nvcc.edu.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day NOVA SEXUAL ASSAULT SERVICES (known as “SAS”) will be visiting the Manassas, Loudoun, Woodbridge, Annandale and Alexandria NOVA Campuses to share information on Healthy Relationships. Stop by our table where you can gather information on HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS and create your own handmade Valentine’s Day Cards for family, friends or that special someone in your life for free!

 

 

Manassas – Thursday, Feb 7th from 10-2 – Howsman Cafeteria
Loudoun – Monday, February 11th from 11-2 – LC Cafe
Alexandria – Tuesday, February 12th from 11-2 – Bisdorf Cafeteria
Woodbridge – Wednesday, February 13th from 10:30 – 1:30 – WAS Café
Annandale – Thursday, February 14th from 11-2 – CA 3rd Floor

Hope to see you there and bring your friends!

 

https://www.nvcc.edu/novacares/sas/dating.html

Tip of the Week: Consent Matters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consent Matters!

Consent is a clear and unambiguous agreement, expressed in mutually understandable words or actions, to engage in a particular activity. In order for sexual activity to be consensual, ALL individuals involved must want and agree to everything that takes place. Silence or no response does NOT equal YES. Consent is unimpaired – only someone who is mentally present and uninfluenced by external factors such as substances can give consent. A person may change his/her mind even after saying “yes” initially. Sexual activity after that point is a form of sexual assault. Just because you have engaged in sexual acts with the individual once before, it does not mean the answer is always an implied yes.

Respect your partner’s answer: NO MEANS NO

To learn more please visit:

http://www.nvcc.edu/novacares/resources.html

http://www.kiwiburn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/keep-calm-and-get-consent-6-257×300.png

Tip of the Week: Warning Signs of Dating/Partner Violence

Dating/partner violence is a pattern of behaviors between individuals who are or have been involved in an intimate relationship in which an individual inflicts emotional, financial, psychological, sexual and/or physical harm to his/her partner to assert power and control. Dating/partner violence is abuse within an intimate relationship regardless of marital status and does not depend on whether the couple lives together. It happens in heterosexual and same-sex relationships. Some behaviors within dating/partner violence are considered criminal.

If you or someone you know sees the warning signs in their relationship then remember you are not alone and that you have the option to seek help. You can always reach out to NOVACares by filling out the NOVACares report or by contacting NOVA Sexual Assault Services (SAS) directly at nova.sas@nvcc.edu or 703-338-0834.

http://www.nvcc.edu/novacares/index.html

Below are a list of warning signs
 Explosive temper
 Using physical violence such as choking, pushing or hitting
 Extreme jealousy or insecurity
 Checking emails, cellphones and social media without permission
 Isolation from family and friends
 Controlling partner’s movements or decisions and/or finances
 Coercing or forcing partner to engage in unwanted or nonconsensual sexual acts
 Constantly insulting or putting down partner and/or humiliating partner in public or in front of loved ones
 Making false accusations
 Possessiveness

http://www.isthisabusive.com/…/2013/02/abusivechecklist1.jpg