Maintaining your Mental Health During the Holidays

Frantic shopping, family dinners with awkward conversations, excessive traveling. These are a few of our…least favorite things?

Let’s face it–sometimes the holiday season isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. All the hustle and bustle, grandiose expectations and financial demands can really take a toll on our mental health. That being said, the holiday season shouldn’t deplete your emotional and mental well being. Believe it or not, there are still plenty of ways to have a great time and stay sane during the holidays. 

Stressors During the Holidays

If you’re dreading time with family, finding gifts for everyone on your list, or worrying about the decadent meals and maintaining healthy habits, you’re not alone. According to the American Psychological Association, 45% of Americans would prefer to skip the holiday season entirely! 

So what causes holiday stress? For most people, it’s usually our perceived idea of others’ expectations. By trying to keep up with what we think people expect of us, we tend to make conditions worse for ourselves. We think people expect the perfect gift from us, we think we have to cozy up to that cousin we really don’t like, we think if we don’t contribute 110% to every gathering, we’ll disappoint others.

If your anxiety is going through the roof at the very thought of festivities, don’t fret. Here are a few tips to preserve your mental health.

Tips to Stay Balanced During the Holiday Season

1. Keep some sort of routine. 

Maintaining parts of your daily routine during this stressful time can help you feel more in control and grounded. Go on your daily walk, make sure you get that cup of tea, or take just 20 minutes to yourself. Taking care of your physical health will work wonders in lowering anxiety, depression and stress. 

2. Create boundaries. 

friends gathering, holiday anxiety, Flint, MI Therapy

While the holiday season is a wonderful time for family gatherings, it can also create awkward or unwanted encounters. Remind yourself that you don’t need to put yourself in situations where you feel uncomfortable. If being with family is making you feel low, gather with friends instead, or create your very own holiday traditions. The holidays are for you too!

3. Embrace difficult emotions. 

It’s ok if you don’t feel happy during the holidays. It can sometimes be overbearing to be expected to be “merry.” Whatever you’re feeling, they are valid feelings. It’s ok to have the holiday blues, want to spend time alone or take a step away from some festivities. Valued family members and friends will embrace you whatever your mood.

4. Know it’s OK to ask for help. 

The festive season can be a difficult time for many of us. If you’re feeling overwhelmingly depressed, anxious or unbalanced, we are here for you. Reach out to family, friends, or a mental health professional. 

Holiday anxiety is real, and it’s important that we remind ourselves that many of us are feeling the same thing. This year, take a step back. Remember the things that actually bring you joy, regardless of the season. Is it seeing your favorite people? Spending some quiet time alone? Creating new memories with your family? Whatever it is, make space for what keeps you mentally healthy. And if you ever need some help maintaining your joy, you know who to call

Happy holidays from Traini Counseling Group!

Social Media for Mental Health: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Social media, love it or hate it, it’s a part of our lives. Man or woman, young or old, shy or outgoing, nearly everyone engages in social media in some way. In fact, the average user spends a little over two hours a day on social media platforms. It seems to be the new way we communicate and engage with those around us; we use it to find friends and potential dates, to join groups to talk about our interests and concerns, to peruse pictures to see what others are up to, what’s trending, and even what’s going on in the world. 

So what does all this mean for our mental health? While we can find a lot of joy in social media, we can also find a lot of hurt and false information that can have a negative impact on our mental well being. 

How can social media be good for mental health?

We’re not here to completely bash social media sites and apps! In fact, social platforms can be excellent for raising awareness about and for normalizing mental health care.

We use Facebook to share mental health resources and tips, the positive impact of counseling and fun happenings in our office. Others use social media to share their mental health struggles and how they’re coping. Over the years, we’ve seen more and more people reach out to each other over social media, combating loneliness and destigmatizing a wide range of mental illnesses.

How can social media be bad for mental health?

Social Media and Mental Health, Flint, MI Therapy

As you probably already know, social media also has its dark side and can have a negative effect on your mental health. While social media can promote information that is fake, or simply untrue, much of it is in fact, factual. However, this information can be taken out of context or worse, not individualized to the whole person. At face value, this generalized information can be harmful to a person struggling with mental health issues.

Comparatively, here at Triani Counseling, we do extensive work on history gathering of each person’s current and past medical health issues, traumas, high-risk behaviors, if any, and many other factors before we ever begin treatment. When searching for mental health care, it’s imperative that a health care provider assesses you as an individual. 

What are some recent trends in social media that can be harmful?

You may have encountered such things on TikTok or Instagram like “gentle parenting” or reels of young people showing their symptoms or tics of Tourette syndrome or borderline personality disorder (BPD.)  In some cases, being inundated by this information can promote harmful thinking or actions. For example, as a parent watching gentle parenting reels, you may think that this is the ONLY way to parent and other parenting styles are harmful. People watching #TS or #BPD videos may have aggravated symptoms and be inclined to self-diagnose.  

Overall, these “at-home” treatment options or schools of thought can be damaging. As providers, our big fear is that self-treatment is not as impactful as it truly needs to be for certain folks, leading to time wasted and symptoms exacerbated.

How can you combat the harmful effects of social media?

Fact check everything if you’re going to take it to heart! There can be some very good information out there (and there usually is!) However, take caution. Social media should be used as a tool to begin further research between oneself and their provider.

Clinical Director of Traini Counseling and LCSW Yasmin Al-Traini’s advice is to:

  • Take the information you read and hear and present it to your practitioners and
  • Use the information as a jumping off point to your own research. Pull from research that is publicly published in journals.

Fact checking is made free and very accessible these days through databases such as Google Scholar. As clinicians, we use Google Scholar to pull evidence based studies and up-to-date information.

Why do you need to connect with a mental health professional?

At the end of the day, clinicians are held to an oath of ethical and professional standards. Social media influencers are not. Even “clinicians” on social media may be operating under personal accounts or pages, and are not speaking to you as an individual, but rather in a very general and, possibly, inapplicable manner.

Remember, don’t over immerse yourself in information which can be overwhelming at such high volumes and therefore, damaging. Take a break from social media every once in a while. 

If you’re struggling with mental health issues, please reach out! We, as licensed, educated and fact checking clinicians, are here to treat you as an individual with a unique history, needs and goals. 

EMDR Therapy: How Can It Help Me?

Welcome! You’re probably reading this article because you’ve made the decision to start therapy, which is a huge step forward for your mental health. Or, maybe you haven’t quite decided to start, but you’re researching options, looking into what types of therapy may be best for you and what exactly they entail. 

At Traini Counseling Group, we’re pleased to now offer eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, also known as EMDR therapy. In this blog post, we’ll cover the basics of EMDR therapy, what it involves and who it best benefits. 

What is EMDR Therapy?

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a psychotherapy technique and treatment option most often used with people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD,) anxiety, panic, or trauma. This highly reputable and effective therapy provides a safe way for people to reconnect with thoughts, images, emotions, and body sensations associated with their trauma. This in turn allows the brain to naturally “heal” and move toward adaptive resolutions. 

EMDR therapy uses bilateral stimulation, like eye movements, taps or tones, to help you focus on the physical sensations while at the same time noticing any feelings, thoughts, emotions or memories that come to mind when thinking about your trauma. This helps the brain actually process distressing memories rather than stay “stuck” in the trauma, eventually helping you heal from painful past events, anxieties or thoughts.

What Does EMDR Therapy Involve?

EMDR therapy consists of eight phases. These are:

Journaling, EMDR Therapy, Flint, MI
  • History-taking sessions where you and your therapist develop a treatment plan, discuss what traumatic events or traumatic memories you wish to target and what skills and behaviors you’ll learn to develop. 
  • Client preparation sessions, where you’ll be taught stress relief techniques to use during and between sessions.
  • Assessment, desensitization, installation, and body scan. This is the core of EMDR therapy, where you’ll practice the therapy by focusing on vivid images related to your traumatic experience, negative beliefs about yourself and any emotions or bodily sensations you are feeling during the assessments. This is where the bilateral stimulation is used and you focus on establishing positive thoughts.
  • Closure. You’ll be asked to keep a journal for a week, documenting any time you feel trauma, anxieties or panic arise, and what positive beliefs and other coping mechanisms you used to effectively calm yourself.
  • The last reevaluation phase assesses the progress you have made so far and what past, present and future situations may continue to cause you stress or trauma. 

Who Can Benefit from EMDR Therapy?

Anyone can participate and learn from EMDR therapy, but those who can particularly benefit from EMDR are those who suffer from PTSD, mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, substance abuse and any other traumas. 

Those who have lived through such distressing life experiences such as sexual abuse or rape, combat trauma, childhood trauma, and/or life-threatening situations in particular can gain health, happiness and insight through EMDR therapy.

Where Can I Find an EMDR Therapist?

At Traini Counseling Group, we offer EMDR therapy with Yasmin Al-Traini, LCSW and Shanel Clum, LLMSW. Both are exceptional licensed therapists specializing in EMDR therapy who happily serve the community of Flint, MI and Genesee County. To contact us and set up an appointment, please click here. If you’d like to learn more about EMDR therapy, visit the official EMDR website here.

5 Self-Care Tips for Parents During Summer Break

For many, especially children, summer break means no school, vacations, beautiful weather and time with family and friends. For parents on the other hand, summer can mean a time of anxiety, chaotic schedules, noisy households and little downtime. As parents ourselves, we understand that summertime can be both a wonderful season and a one that may cause burnout.

To help you better enjoy this summer with your kids, here are five self-care tips to preserve your mental health this season. 

1. Get active outdoors.

Summertime is the perfect time to work on your physical health by getting active outside. As you may already know, physical activity releases those feel good chemicals called endorphins that helps us feel good. Take the kids to the park or a nature preserve (our favorites are Bluebell Beach and For Mar Nature Preserve here in Flint) and enjoy spending time outside and away from electronics.   

2. Spend time with loved ones alone. 

With playdates, birthday parties, sports practices, games and everything in-between, it may seem like your kids have a social life but yours is looking a little shabby (or nonexistent.) Make sure you get some social time too! Try to designate a time at least once a week to see a friend, family member, spouse or date without the kiddos. 

3. Set a sleep schedule.

The sun is up earlier and stays up later, but that doesn’t mean bedtimes need to go completely bust. Summertime bedtimes might be different from school bedtimes, but make sure everyone still maintains a bedtime. Not only is this good for kids, it’s also important for you as a parent. A little time to yourself at night can do wonders, plus it’s important you get enough sleep as well. 

4. Plan ahead. 

Speaking of setting schedules, reduce stress levels by planning summer activities ahead. If you’re planning on a vacation, give yourself plenty of time to book hotels, activities and pack. Even if it’s just a day activity, you’ll save yourself a headache by planning ahead instead of scrambling at the last minute. Check out activities at the Flint Children’s Museum, plan a trip to the farmer’s market, or even reserve a spot at the Lake Shore.

5. Carve out time for yourself. 

Last, but not least, remember to take time out of your busy summer schedule for yourself. Whether this is just 30 minutes at night or in the morning, a block of time during the week while the kids are at a summer activity, or a day you pick out during the month, make sure this time is spent doing something you want to do and not just chores. Meditate, take a bath, start a gratitude journal, read, go to your favorite coffee place, craft, whatever! Just make sure it’s something that brings you happiness and a sense of peace.

As parents and mental health professionals here at Traini Counseling Group, we know that summer is a mixed blessing. It’s wonderful to have more time to enjoy our kids, but also overwhelming to suddenly juggle everyday life, work and very active children. We hope that these self-care tips can help ease that stress, but also know that we’re here for you if you find yourself struggling with overwhelming anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues

Have a wonderful summer!

The Traini Counseling Group

Why Should You or Your Child Get Tested for ADHD?

Do you often find yourself frustrated at work or school? Do you find yourself trying to multitask, but never really “finishing” anything? Or maybe you stumble in social situations, or find it hard to connect with others. Maybe you don’t share these traits, but your child does; maybe they struggle to connect with their peers. Maybe you get notes from the teacher, mentioning their inability to sit still or focus on assignments that should normally be in their wheelhouse. 

If any of these characteristics sound familiar, it may be that you or your child struggle with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD. You hear from family, friends and teachers that you should get a diagnosis for yourself or your child. But maybe you’re in a bind. Maybe your insurance doesn’t cover an ADHD assessment, or you don’t have the time and resources to dedicate to a thorough assessment right now. Or, maybe you simply don’t see the benefit of a diagnosis. 

So why should you or your child get tested for ADHD? What exactly are the benefits of an Attention Deficit Disorder diagnosis? 

The Major Benefits of an Accurate ADHD Diagnosis

In a study by the Journal of Attention Disorders, participants who were diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder were compared to those who showed signs of ADHD but didn’t receive a diagnosis. Those who received an accurate diagnosis showed higher self-esteem, 20% less productivity loss, 16% less “activity-level impairment” and five points less on the Sheehan Disability scale.

ADHD Diagnosis Benefits, Flint, MI

So, what exactly does that mean? Overall, it seems that diagnosis and treatment of a neurodevelopmental disorder like ADHD can greatly enhance an individual’s life. 

Academic/Professional Benefits to Getting an ADHD Assessment 

Careless mistakes as a result of inattentiveness, impulsive behavior and inhibited executive functions caused by ADHD can greatly impact an adult’s career, ability to get hired, and/or succeed in academics. Similarly, children in school can perform poorly, struggle with anxiety and stress, and feel guilty for not achieving at the level of their peers. 

Those who get an ADHD diagnosis can:

  • Be eligible for student accomodations
  • Create treatment plans that help build structure, organization and routine
  • Improve productivity by getting help to organize your workspace, study area or classroom
  • Improve academic success with 504 Plans, tutoring and special education programs

Keep in mind, these are just a few benefits to getting you or your child diagnosed by a health professional. 

Social Benefits of Getting Tested for ADHD

ADHD can often cause relationship issues. Forgetting important things, getting upset over minor issues, chronic feelings of guilt and blame can make any individual with ADHD, regardless of age, struggle to connect or stay connected to others. So what benefits can a child or adult who gets an ADHD assessment and diagnosis look forward to?

ADHD Testing for Children, Flint, MI

Those who seek help with ADHD can find treatment plans that help them:

  • Become better at reading social cues and become more included in social settings
  • Check impulsivity and become “more in the moment” 
  • Actively engage in group activities, encouraging turn-taking and communication
  • Become a better partner, parent, friend and/or family member

Again, these are just a few examples of the benefits of ADHD assessments for adults and children and ADHD treatment plans. 

So, what are the next steps?

If you find you or your child’s daily activities hampered by symptoms of hyperactivity, inattention, mood swings or other symptoms of ADHD, reach out to our psychologists at Traini Counseling Group. We’re here to help you and your children succeed across all areas of life. We can’t wait to help you or your child achieve the life you/they deserve! 

Time to Talk Day: Start a Mental Health Conversation

Do you sometimes struggle with opening up about your mental health challenges? Do you find yourself in situations where you know sharing your feelings could improve the outcome, but you just can’t? Maybe this February 3rd, you can find that opportunity to share, and in turn help others!

Founded by Mind, Rethink Mental Illness and Co-op, Time to Talk Day is held every February 3rd and is a day to encourage others to start conversations about mental health issues, listen, and create opportunities to change lives for the better. While we’re always here at Traini Counseling Group to lend a helping hand (and ear,) we want to encourage you this February to reach out, connect with the Flint, MI community, your peer groups, your employer and young people in your life, and encourage them to start having authentic conversations about mental health issues.

So, How Do You Start a Conversation about Mental Health?

While we’re all a little socially rusty from the COVID-19 pandemic, you don’t need to be an extrovert or health care provider to start talking about mental health struggles. Here a few tips to get the ball rolling and help others who may be having a tough time:

Time to Talk, Flint, MI
  • Open up about your own struggles. Phrases like “I’ve been feeling down lately, but once I started talking about the things on my mind, it really helped” can cue others into letting them know you’re a safe person to talk to and that they’re welcome to share.
  • Trust your gut. Have an inkling someone is hurting? They probably are. Destigmatize mental illnesses by talking about them. Ask them if work is stressing them out and causing anxiety, let them know you’re there to listen, or ask them simply if they’d like to vent about anything.   
  • Don’t be afraid to circle back. Sometimes timing is everything. If someone doesn’t feel like sharing today, don’t be hesitant to try and open up the conversation again later.
  • Thank them for sharing. Encourage future conversations by thanking that person for sharing their innermost feelings and thoughts and that you’ll be there for them in the future. 
  • Follow up! And last but not least, don’t just leave it at that single conversation. Even saying something as simple as “Hey! I’ve been thinking about you” down the road can mean the world to another. 

Starting a Conversation in Your Community

These next few tips can help you start some community conversations about mental health, particularly within Flint, MI and Genesee County. Don’t worry, all of these activities are applicable to any community!

Talk to Young Adults about Mental Health, Flint, MI
  • Host a “Cups & Conversations” or “Tea & Talk” event at a local coffee shop, like Rootless Coffee Co. or Dorothy’s Coffee House. Relaxed settings like these can help others gather to share difficult conversations.
  • Is your child a part of the Flint Community Sports Program? Give out tip cards to parents that share information about how to start conversation about mental illness with young people and warning signs. Are you a coach? Let your team know you’re there not only for their physical health, but for their mental health as well. 
  • Own a business in Flint? This is a great time to encourage healthy conversations and check in on your own employees. Host a luncheon at work from a fabulous local restaurant (here’s just a few ideas) and check in on everyone. How are they handling stress? Do they feel they have the right mental health services? Don’t be afraid to ask!

While these are just a few ways to start connecting with your friends, family and community, it certainly isn’t an exhaustive list. Mental health conditions vary and sometimes short conversations may not be enough. When that becomes the case, know that Traini Counseling Group is always here for you, whether you suffer from anxiety, depression, ADHD or other mental health issues.

Lastly, make a promise to yourself this February to share your struggles and in turn help others on national Time to Talk day. We believe in you!

Tips for You and Your Loved Ones During Suicide Prevention and Recovery Month

Every September, mental health care organizations and advocates like ourselves raise awareness of suicide prevention and recovery during National Suicide Prevention Month. Now, perhaps just as important as last year, the Traini Counseling Group wants to stress the importance of taking steps to support ourselves and those we love in crisis.

The Warning Signs of Suicide

The emotional, mental and physical toll of COVID-19 is still lingering with us today, affecting many of us in all walks of life. Unfortunately, the risk for suicide doesn’t just stop at pandemics; many people suffer from chronic mental illness, physical illness, substance abuse or other factors that put them at the risk of suicide. In particular, those who struggle with substance use disorders are six times more likely to attempt suicide. 

Other common factors of people who are at risk of suicide include those who:

  • Have made previous suicide attempts
  • Struggle with mental illness, in particular depression
  • Have a family history of suicide or child abuse
  • Feel alone or isolated
  • Have easy access to methods of suicide
  • Struggle with getting mental health care (whether for financial, cultural or personal reasons)
  • Deal with physical illness, or chronic pain

How to Help Prevent Suicide

If you or your family or friends are struggling with thoughts of suicide, it’s first imperative to reach out and get help, from mental health professionals, others you are close to and/or other health care professionals. By reading this article, you’ve already taken the first and one of the most important steps to prevent suicide. By educating yourself about the warning signs and getting a better understanding of how to help, you can drastically decrease the chances of suicide for yourself and others.

Here are ways to help yourself and others struggling with thoughts of taking their life:

  • Always seek effective treatment for mental, physical, and substance use disorders. If you’re not happy with past treatment attempts or current efforts, don’t despair! There are thousands of treatment options and health care professionals who are dedicated to getting a better understanding of who you are and what you need. That includes us!
  • Reach out and connect with family, friends, and/or your community. 
  • Get support from others who are living with you or your loved ones’ diagnosis or life struggles. Those with a deep understanding of your experiences and feelings can connect with you and provide guidance where others may not have the same perspectives.
  • Promote easier access to clinical interventions and care. This is particularly important in areas where access to therapists, psychologists or other health care providers is scarce. 
  • Lastly, raise awareness in cultures and religions that put a stigma on suicide and mental health care. 

How to Recover from a Suicide Attempt

If you or someone you love has recently survived a suicide attempt, it may seem like an impossibly dark period in your life. You may feel grief, anger, exhaustion, shame and a plethora of other overwhelming emotions. Try to remember, for yourself and others, that recovery is possible, and that there are steps you and your loved one can take to move ahead and cope with the future.

  • Form a safety plan. Remove all methods of self harm from your surroundings and have someone trusted be in charge of medication or items that may be used to harm. Identify your triggers and take necessary steps to learn how to cope or avoid these triggers. 
  • Build a support system. Join a support group. Again reach out to those you are close to, whether they are family or chosen family. Learning from and sharing with others is a tremendous step towards changing the way you respond to and make decisions in your life. 
  • Slowly learn to live again. Find a hobby or activity that brings you happiness. Interests that have you interact with others are particularly helpful, and will help you connect with the world around you. When negative thoughts arise, these connections and interests can help you and your loved ones cope and find joy in living.
  • Realize that everyone’s road to recovery is different. There is no set “recovery time.” How and how long it may take a person to become comfortable and no longer at the risk of suicide is dependent on each individual. Patience, understanding, and support is everything. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you are a veteran or part of the military, call the Veterans Crisis Line and Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1). If you are a young person who is part of the LGBTQ+ community, call The Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386.

Lastly, and certainly not least, if you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or other issues that you feel are negatively affecting your life, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Traini Counseling Group. We offer both individual, couples and group counseling for young people and adults. Questions? Give us a shout, we’re always here for you.

FAQs About Genetic Medication Testing

It might sound like something from a science fiction movie. Someone takes a simple swipe of saliva from you, processes some complicated tests and voila! A plethora of vital information is at your fingertips. You can find out everything from your ancestry to your baby’s likelihood of having a chromosomal defect from these genetic tests. Today, genetic medication testing, also known as pharmacogenetic testing, can even help patients and health care providers discover what medications are best suited for you. 

At Traini Counseling based in Flint, MI, we understand that just the simple phrase “genetic medication testing” can be daunting. What exactly are pharmacogenetic tests? Should I get one? Can I afford to? We get it! Read on for some of the most frequently asked questions (and answers) about genetic medication testing. 

Q: What is genetic medication testing?

A: Genetic medication testing, also called pharmogenetic testing or pharmacogenomic testing, is the process of testing certain genes to determine how an individual may react to specific medications. Through genetic medication testing, healthcare providers can spend less time using the method of “trial-and-error” dosing for a patient and substantially reduce the risk of adverse drug effects.Here at Traini Counseling, we specifically use GeneSight®  for genetic medication testing.

GeneSight® analyzes different genetic variants in your DNA to see how you react to various drugs. GeneSight® looks at pharmacokinetic genes, which tells us how your body metabolizes, or processes medications, and pharmacodynamic genes, which tells us what specific medications do to our body (for example how well, or how poor you may react to that medication.)

Q: What medications does genetic medication testing cover?

GeneSight® currently tests more than forty different antidepressant, anxiolytic and hypnotic, antipsychotic, mood stabilizer, and stimulant and non-stimulant medications commonly prescribed to treat depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other mental health conditions. 

To see the full list of medications, click here.

Q: What can I learn from a genetic medication test?

Quite a bit actually!

First of all, even if a family member responds a certain way to a medication, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll react the same way. Your genes are unique to you, and with a GeneSight® test, you and your healthcare provider, such as a psychiatrist and/or therapist, can analyze which medications might work best for you, and thus what treatment plan will get you towards your mental health care goals the safest and quickest. 

Specifically, a GeneSight® test will tell you which psychotropic drugs you can use as directed without adverse effects, which drugs you may have moderate reactions to, and which medications you would have significant adverse reactions to. The test will also dictate your genotypes and phenotypes, and tell you in detail how those genes react to medications. 

To take a look at a sample GeneSight® test result, click here.

Q: Does my insurance company cover the GeneSight test?

GeneSight® is covered by some government and commercial insurance providers. If you have questions about whether your medical insurance covers the cost of the test, you can read GeneSight®’s insurance coverage page

Q: How do I start?

To begin the process of getting genetic medication testing, reach out to Traini Counseling here, or call us at (810)-877-6343. Have more questions? You can read more about genetic medication testing here or feel free to contact us. We’re ready to help you achieve mental wellness!

Mental Health Awareness for Mother’s Day

It’s May again! Spring is in the air, flowers are blooming, the grass is green and the weather is warm! What’s also in May? Well, Mother’s Day of course! And while we certainly don’t want to take away from celebrating all our wonderful mothers, we do want to also emphasize that May is National Maternal Depression Awareness Month. So to honor all the fabulous women and mothers in your life, read on!

For many mothers, motherhood is the hardest and most enjoyable part of our lives. Motherhood can be described with such a huge range of words; from exhausting to joyous, overwhelming to perfect. Mothers are selfless, supportive, attentive, valuable and a myriad of other things. They are also, most of all, human.

National Maternal Depression Awareness Month strives to destigmatize maternal mental health disorders. Despite maternal mental health issues being the most common complication of childbirth, less than 15% of women today receive mental health treatment. 

What exactly are maternal mental health disorders? 

You’ve probably heard of postpartum depression. How about prenatal depression? Both are maternal mental health disorders, or anxiety and/or depression disorders that can occur during pregnancy or after, during the postpartum period (from the moment a mother has given birth, up to about six weeks.) Women can experience maternal mental health disorders such as the common experience of “baby blues” as well as the more severe but still common experience of Postpartum Psychosis.

According to, “ as many as 1 in 5 women experience some type of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder.”

What are signs of postpartum depression or other maternal mental health disorders?

Addressing maternal mental health disorders as quickly as possible, and in a culturally sensitive way, is the best way to help ourselves and those we care for. While many of us know that anxiety and fatigue is not unusual right after giving birth, the following can be key indicators of a maternal mental health disorder: 

  • Feelings of anger or irritability around others
  • Feelings of shame, guilt or “imposter-syndrome” 
  • Feelings of regret
  • Difficulty eating or sleeping
  • Difficulty bonding with your new baby
  • Disinterest in your child
  • Thoughts of self harm or suicide
  • Thoughts of harming your child

What can I do if I’m struggling with maternal depression or anxiety?

First of all, breathe. The whole point of this article, and of National Maternal Depression Awareness Month, is to help people realize that you and those you love are not alone and that there are resources out there for you (and that includes us!

Although mothers may feel guilty about having maternal depression or anxiety (again, normal,) it’s incredibly important to first reach out for help. Tell your partner, a family member, friend, therapist or your healthcare provider. This support system can help you realize that your sadness and anxiety is not a character flaw or a weakness, but a biological illness that is treatable and that will pass. 

Secondly, manage your stress levels. This may be far easier said than done with a newborn on your hands, but do remember to monitor how things are affecting you. Too little sleep, food, or simply downtime can add up fast. Schedule in your own self-care time.

Lastly, although this is not an exhaustive list by far, consider therapy as a form of treatment for maternal depression and/or anxiety. Therapy will teach you coping mechanisms, as well as self-help tools that will serve you throughout the difficult moments in motherhood and beyond. A better quality of life for mothers only means a better quality of life for their children! 

So remember, this May give the mothers in your life an extra hug, and if you or any one of your loved ones need help, you know where to find us

Happy Mother’s Day, 

Traini Counseling Group

Tips for Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day Sober and Staying in Recovery

Green beer, boisterous parades, Irish music, and all day festivities! These are things that most people associate with St. Patrick’s Day. And while it may have begun as a cultural and religious celebration held every March 17th, that honored the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick, today in the United States, St. Patrick’s Day has become a whole new beast.

Today it’s not uncommon for people on Saint Patrick’s day to celebrate the day by going on bar crawls and imbibing in food, friends and spirits. On holidays like these though, it’s imperative to remember what’s important to you. Yes, we completely understand the FOMO (fear of missing out,) but we also understand the huge trigger holidays like these can be, and how far you’ve come in your addiction recovery.

That’s why we’ve compiled a few ideas for you to make plans this Saint Patrick’s day to celebrate Irish culture, enjoy the day and stay sober! 

Take a Few Moments to Remind Yourself of Your Priorities

For just a few minutes, use the tools you’ve learned throughout addiction recovery to remind yourself why you’ve chosen to abstain. Write down why you’re in recovery, what your goals are and how proud you are of yourself in how far you’ve come. Remind yourself that you have the strength to stay in recovery and avoid relapse.

Surround Yourself with Sober Friends

And no, they don’t have to be Irish. 

Believe it or not, not everyone on Saint Patrick’s day wants to have a drink. They can be fellow friends in recovery, those in your community who naturally abstain, or simply friends who prefer not to drink. Gather them together, host your own party and try some of the following ideas.

Cook an Irish Feast 

It’s not all corned beef and cabbage! Satisfy your cravings for something new with foods like Irish soda bread, shepherd’s pie, or Irish oat flapjacks. And yes, bring on the green with green food coloring if you’d like. We won’t begrudge you a few green Irish-themed mocktails or two.

Watch an Irish Film

The Irish have some great movies. Some options include “The Wind That Shakes the Barley,” “The Secret of Kells,” and “Brooklyn.”  In fact, you can find a whole list of the top 50 Irish films ever made here. There’s sure to be one of those streaming on Netflix!

With just a little effort, an otherwise overwhelming, triggering holiday can become something to look forward to for people in recovery. Gather your loved ones, those that support you, and have some fun. Wear some green, avoid those pinches, fill your belly with some hearty Irish food, and maybe, just maybe, Saint Patrick will bestow some of his love and luck upon you! 

If you ever are struggling with addiction, please know we are here for you, whether you are choosing to make the first step towards recovery, or are picking yourself up again. All that matters is that you are choosing to rise up again. We would welcome the opportunity to help you in your recovery. 

A very happy St. Patrick’s day to you from Traini Counseling Group!