Tag Archives: Tip of the Week

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/

Cumulative Stress: What is it, and what to do about it

Cumulative stress is an accumulation of stress that impacts bodily functioning, cognitive output, mood and your ability to function healthily.  Stress can be both positive; such as working towards a degree or getting a promotion, and negative; such as making a major life decision or experiencing a loss.  The impact of these positive and negative stressors without the balance of self-care and routine can be detrimental to your health and overall functioning, resulting in illness, injury, feelings of depletion, and inability to meet goals and fulfill obligations.

To manage your stress, “keep your bucket full,” meaning, be purposeful in replenishing your energy through adequate sleep, healthy diet, exercise, healthy relationships and hobbies.  If you do not, you may end up involuntarily refilling your bucket after a sickness or injury, when you have no choice but to sit and rest.

Per the Office of Student and Community Services, Department of Student Services of Montgomery County Public Schools in Rockville, Maryland, here are some ways to combat cumulative stress:

  • Create a daily routine to help regain a sense of control
  • Eat balanced, healthy meals
  • Get extra rest to let your body relax and recover
  • Exercise
  • Let frustration and anger out through safe, exhausting physical activity
  • Ask for support from friends, colleagues, and loved ones
  • Avoid alcohol, drugs, and tobacco
  • Limit caffeine
  • Don’t dwell on news of the crisis; gather the information you need, then turn off the TV or radio
  • Be aware of the impact of your own past experiences on your current functioning
  • Seek mental health assistance when you are concerned about your reactions.

For more information on cumulative stress, visit:

https://jamesclear.com/cumulative-stress

https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/emergency/resources/mental-cumulative.aspx

Self-Care in Minutes

Self-care is an intentional activity meant to support your emotional, mental, and physical well-being.  It is often overlooked, but is vital for a healthy relationship with yourself.  Self-care strengthens self-esteem, the experience of positive feelings and self-confidence, and allows you to maintain openness to positivity from others.  Self-care will also help you to have the energy to get through work and personal commitments.  It can look a lot of ways, like asserting boundaries, saying “no”, asking for help, forgiving yourself, and taking a break.  Self-care does not require grand effort or lots of money; below are some examples of what you can do to take care of yourself:

5 minutes-

  • Drink a glass of water or a cup of tea/coffee/cocoa
  • Text a friend
  • Stretch/take deep breaths
  • Meditate or say a prayer
  • Listen to a motivational song
  • Watch a cute animal video

15 minutes-

  • Write in your journal
  • Make a grocery list or menu
  • Go for a walk
  • Have a dance party in your jammies
  • Change your sheets
  • Phone a friend

30 minutes-

  • Take a bath
  • Exfoliate/apply a face mask
  • Engage in a hobby
  • Take a nap
  • Cook/enjoy a favorite snack or meal
  • Exercise

1+ hours-

  • Give yourself a mani/pedi
  • Watch a favorite movie/show
  • Curl up in a blanket, and listen to music
  • Read a book
  • Attend a therapy session
  • Have a video call with family/friends

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: Choosing a Major

Tip of the Week: Choosing a Major

As the semester is coming to an end, many are faced with the approaching decision of choosing a major. This decision can be a stressful and scary one. Let’s reflect on a few tips to help you in this decision process:
1. What are your interests? Take some time to think of what sparks joy in your life and what you are good at! We are more likely to succeed and excel in our careers if we have a passion for it driving us.
2. What values and beliefs are important to you? Working in a field that reflects your core values and beliefs is a vital factor to your overall happiness. Take time to write down important values that are essential in your career path.
3. Ask for help. It is always okay to ask for help. Ask your academic advisors, family, and friends their advice. Those who know you know well are there to help inspire, and motivate you to find your academic passion.
4. Use your electives to spark interest. Take advantage of your electives to find your areas of interest. Taking a wide variety of electives can help you narrow down your field of interest. You never know until you try it!
5. Volunteer in your community. Taking advantage of volunteer opportunities in your community is a great way to network and familiarize yourself in different lines of work. Not to mention it will look great on your college applications and resumes!
Choosing a major can be a difficult decision but there are resources out there to help you right here at NOVA! Visit the Advising and Counseling page at https://www.nvcc.edu/advising/index.html for counseling support for career, transfer, retention (academic success) and disability issues.
Or email AcademicAdvising@nvcc.edu (emails are answered within 24 hours).
Or chat online directly with the Live Chat link to talk with a viral advisor here: https://www.nvcc.edu/virtualadvising/index.html

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

 

Tip of the Week: September 8 -14 is National Suicide Prevention Week

September 10th  is World Suicide Prevention Day! Let’s celebrate awareness! 1,100 of college students commit suicide every year, and 10% think seriously about suicide as an option. Many of us have either been personally affected by or know someone who has been affected by a suicide. It is important to remember you are NOT ALONE! If you or your friends express an interest in suicide, it is important to take it seriously! The best way to prevent suicide is to recognize these warning signs and know how to respond if you spot them. Here are some signs to look out for:
• Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
• Looking for a way to kill oneself
• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
• Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
• Talking about being a burden to others; Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
• Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
• Sleeping too little or too much
• Withdrawing or feeling isolated
• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
• Displaying extreme mood swings.
For immediate help, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or for other resources visit:
https://afsp.org/find-support/
Or
https://www.nvcc.edu/novacares/resources.html

TIP OF THE WEEK: Back to School Study Tips

With Fall 2019 semester now in full swing, the academic load can be overwhelming. Let’s take a moment to determine how we can make this a successful semester! Consider the following as you go about your everyday:
1. Stay Organized: Keep a detailed calendar for both your academic and social calendars and make sure they do not collide. Setting reminders in your phone and/or using sticky notes is a great method to staying on track.
2. Time Management: This may be the most important skill you master in your NOVA career and beyond. Prioritizing your work load is essential to your success! Make sure you set aside an appropriate amount of time for your class load each week in accordance to your work life. While you may be taking on a lot this semester, may sure you make time for self-care!
3. Don’t Cram or Over Study: As tempting as staying up until 3a.m. to study for that test may be, studies show that last minute cramming only leads to undo stress, sacrificed sleeping and ultimately poor test performance. Instead let’s practice time management discussed above.
4. Unplug & Disconnect: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be a great source for staying in touch with loved ones, friends, and acquaintances, however, it can be a huge distraction. In your appointed study hours consider turning off all social media accounts and focusing on the here and now.
5. Find Your Comfort Zone: It is all about finding what works for you. Whether it may be the quiet library, the busy coffee shop, or the local park with distance sounds of nature. We all operate different and finding the place to focus your mind is essential to your studying success!
6. Take a Break: Sometimes the work load can seem overwhelming. Take a break! Sometimes walking away from a tough paper you are writing or a stressful test you are studying for can give you a fresh perspective when you walk back to it. Allow yourself to clear your mind and regain focus.

We hope you can find these tips helpful in your NOVA success. Additional resources can be found at: https://www.nvcc.edu/novacares/resources.html
If you need additional support, feel free to email us at: NOVACares@nvcc.edu

Tip of the Week: Stressed about Finals?

As finals approach, stress can begin to rise. There are small things you can do to reduce your stress, such as trying to stay organized, plan ahead so you can manage studying with other life events, get 7- 8 hours of sleep each night, eat healthy (not processed food!), and turn off social media! These are all great ways to be prepared for those exams and papers – and to stay healthy as well! Sometimes, however, stress can be overwhelming. You don’t need to deal with it on your own. There is help for you! For more information, go to https://www.nvcc.edu/novacares/resources.html

 

 

Tip of the Week: Dealing with Depression

Depression is a mental disorder that causes a constant feeling of sadness, tiredness, and loss of interest. Depression affects how you feel, think, and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living. Depression can be treated, so it’s important to seek help if you believe you may be experiencing depression. To learn more, go to https://www.nvcc.edu/novacares/resources.html