How Not To Be Depressed on Valentine’s Day

How Not To Be Depressed On Valentine's Day

How Not To Be Depressed on Valentine’s Day

By Cathy Neville, LPC on February 12, 2015.

It started after Christmas.

Jewelry commercials replaced toys on TV. ads started popping up on your iPad. Bags of messaged candy hearts and foiled kisses edged out the chocolate Santas and candy canes at the grocery store.

Here comes Valentine’s Day.

A celebration of romantic love and intimacy.

A day devoted to that romantic lover that you don’t have can bog you down in sadness.

For those already struggling with depression, this particular celebration can really get in the way of attempts to feel better.

All Valentine’s Day ends up doing is exacerbating the pain, emptiness, and disconnection that was already in your way.

Probably not what cupid intended.

So what do you do?

First, try to recognize that your need to love and be loved is perfectly normal.

Valentine’s Day really isn’t the problem.

Depression is.

You don’t have to spend the day stuck, sad, or ruminating on your singleness.

Consider these measures for surviving Valentine’s Day:

Step One: Treats are a must.

What’s Valentine’s Day without the sweets?

Go ahead and buy a box of chocolates. Have a few. It’s just one day.

Depression wants to keep your life pleasure-less.

Those candy hearts with the silly messages contain words you need to hear right now. Enjoy!

Step Two: Massages, manicures, and more.

While it’s not exactly a romantic experience, it does feel good to refresh your mind and body. Get a relaxing massage, allow for some hand-holding with a manicurist, or let a stylist run his or her fingers through your hair.

Step Three: Give yourself the perfect gift, love letter, or ensemble.

You know how you want to be appreciated. Value yourself enough to buy, write, or wear what makes you feel special. Be your own admirer.

Step Four: Go find love.

  • Put yourself out there. Allow yourself to consider a relationship you wouldn’t before.
  • Open your mind to online dating.
  • Reconsider the advances of the person who flirts with you at the gym.
  • Risk calling an old crush for a chat.

Step Five:  Celebrate all of your relationships.

Valentine’s Day does not have to be only about romantic love.  Whether you are part of a couple or not, you have a right to a full life and close, loving relationships.

Don’t isolate. Open the day up to all your relationships:

  • Celebrate your single status with friends. Go dancing or to dinner together. Watch romantic comedies and make fun of the fact that it took the characters two days to meet, fall in love, and promise to be together forever.
  • Offer to babysit your nieces and nephews while the grown-ups go out. Play board games; make heart-shaped cookies and strawberry smoothies. Be the “cool” adult.

Make Valentine’s Day a day you show family and friends how much you care about them.  Whether you buy them cards, chocolates or teddy bears, chances are they will be thrilled that you were thinking of them.

It really is true that when we give or do something special for others, we feel better, too!

Don’t make depression your valentine.  Make February 14th a day of remembrance, appreciation and gratitude for ALL the special people in your life!

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Mental Health

By Cathy Neville, LPC, on January 1, 2015

Photo by Dreamstime

Photo by Dreamstime


Happy New Year! Wait. Happy New Year?
Are you sure?
Why will 2015 be any happier than last year?Do you have a plan?Of course, you always have your stand-by resolutions.

There are some really good ideas there.

…lose weight, quit this habit or that habit, get organized…

Maybe you will be successful this year.

After all, if you could actually accomplish them, you would be happier, right?

Hmm. Maybe not.

If there is one thing past years and past resolutions have taught you, it’s that actually understanding yourself and your relationships a little better does more for your heart and mind than any attempt to organize it or lose weight ever could.

So, why not make a few key decisions that will actually help free your mind and lighten your emotional load?

Then you might actually be happy enough to tackle those extra pounds or kick those cigarettes for good!

Let’s start with these 6 resolutions meant to help you love yourself, share your life, and find the freedom you’ve been looking for:

1. Let Self-Compassion be your passion.

Nothing you do or don’t do, or any mistake you make, should make you hate, punish, or treat yourself unkindly. You can learn to be your own best friend. You may need to change your self-talk one conversation at a time, but it’s worth the effort. You need to be in your own corner when you tackle all the challenges 2015 throws your way. You need to believe you deserve it when you succeed.

2. Be slower to react. Choose your responses.

Make your life less about reacting to others. Choose deliberately to slow your response to someone else’s behavior, tone, demand, needs, or wants. Act, don’t react. Everyone has buttons. Don’t let the people who push yours push you around.

3. Map and defend the boundaries you want to live by.

Take a look at the boundaries and limits you’ve placed around yourself and your relationships this year. This may be the time to shore up the protective walls around your marriage or examine the breached limits of a friend who takes too much and offers too little. Appropriate boundaries are essential for your healthiest relationships this year.

4. Be a mental health rebel.

Embrace professional help sooner rather than later. Everyone waits until the crisis point to call the counselor. Be different. Ask for guidance and direction as soon as you notice a communication breakdown or that your sadness lingers. Better yet, be preventive. As with any health issue, early detection and early prevention are key.

5. Move it or risk losing it.

Move your body a little bit more everyday. Why?

Because people who don’t move lose flexibility in their bodies and minds.

Studies repeatedly show the value of exercise when it comes to alleviating a host of mental health disorders including anxiety and depression.

6. Let “Be Mindful” be your mantra.

It’s easy to become anxious, sad, or lost in negative thinking.

It’s easy to be sucked into, stressed, and even saddened by our preoccupied lives. Our eyes are so trained to see only what’s in front of us.

Try this everyday, before you go to work, or during lunch, or after dinner: get outside and don’t forget to look up at the rising sun, taste the food you’re eating, or look into the faces of those around you.

Give yourself the opportunity to be present.

If you breathe for just a little while each day, and take in what matters, you may choose what matters a little differently this year.

And soon 2015 will be the happiest New Year yet!

Describing Death to A Child


Just the word, said out loud or written that way, with just the period behind it, seems somehow taboo and uncomfortably final.It makes us uneasy.Moreover, we know how hard death is to explain to ourselves.How do you discuss death with a child? You may want to skirt the topic altogether.But death, too often, is feared and misunderstood in the mind of a child.Your child needs you to explain it, or he or she risks coming away with fear and anxiety born from misinformation or their own imaginations.So, how do you describe the process and finality of death to a little one?

You may need some help with that.

Consider some of these key points for helping a child understand death and dying:

Don’t Dismiss Your Child’s Perceptions of Death. 

Be sure to listen to what your child says or asks. He is thinking about it, especially if the loss is personal. Talk to him so that a healthy, realistic perspective is retained from the experience.

Take into account your child’s age and development. Ideas of finality develop over time. Answering questions in a manner that is age-appropriate is usually best.

Kids grieve too. Developed by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, the familiar grief model, which includes denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, can be witnessed in children. Simply let it play out naturally, for however long, and support your child as she expresses her thoughts, confusion, and struggles.

Consider the Circumstances of Your Child’s Exposure to Death.

Expected Death. Preparation is important. Resist the urge to send him away with no time to adjust to the loss. Talk to him about what he witnessed and discuss openly any feelings that are negative or ambivalent, as well as sad. Use clear language, rather than puzzling phrasing like “resting in peace.” Discuss how a dying person’s body eventually slows down and stops working completely. You might also take the opportunity to use unemotional illustrations like the cycle of life and death in nature. Make every effort to hear your child’s need for reassurance, accept varying involvement throughout the death process, and listen to conclusions he reaches about death.
Sudden Death. In this circumstance, reassure your child of her safety and avoid confusion. Try not to use misleading phrases like “went away” or “took a long trip.” The loss, coupled with those types of ideas, may cause fear or give your child the sense that the loss is temporary. Validate your child’s emotions and maintain perspective by assuring your child that sudden deaths are not everyday events. Share your own feelings calmly and supportively, to avoid amplifying any anxiety. Be prepared to seek the assistance of a counselor if depression or withdrawal becomes an issue.

Suicidal death. This explanation may require you to answer your child’s “why?” with an honest “I don’t know.” Shannon Karl, a grief expert and member of the American Counseling Association, suggests that parents clearly relate that the deceased person “died from suicide” rather committed suicide. If your child expresses guilt, reassure him that he is not to blame. Talk about how a person can have sickness in his or her mind that leads to that type of choice, with little specific detail about the manner of death.

Effective, ongoing communication is key for developing your child’s healthy coping skills and perceptions regarding death. Sometimes adult grief, anxiety, or relationships may hinder a child’s grasp of the topic. If you need help discussing death or helping your child manage grief, consider the assistance of an experienced grief counselor who can provide encouraging guidance and support