Archive for November, 2009

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Overcoming Substance Abuse New York City and Beyond

Substance abuse does not only happen to a certain type of person. Contrary to what is portrayed on television and on the big screen, there is no stereotypical substance abuser. Substance abuse, including drug, alcohol and pain medication addiction can happen to people of all ages, of all races, of all classes, of all professions, of all walks of life. Regardless of whether you live in the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Mid-Town, Chelsea, or anywhere in between, substance abuse could very easily be affecting you, or someone you love. Every single substance abuse case is different and thus it is not fair or correct to automatically assume the reasons for substance abuse. In fact, the only constant in substance abuse cases is the pain and suffering it can cause not only the user, but also those close to him or her. Statements such as he had a hard childhood; she’s going through a difficult time; he’s got an addictive personality may help some people come to terms with substance abuse but it most certainly won’t be enough to end the pain, frustration, guilt, confusion, anger and fear that comes with battling addiction. The road to recovery is an uphill journey; however, with the right professional counseling, network of support and dedication to success, you can not only take on this mountainous battle, but you can make it out of the fog and to the top of your life.

Substance abuse in New York is more common than you may think. Sure, you may have seen the alcoholics battling in the streets but you probably did not think twice about it. Many cases of substance abuse happen behind closed doors. Furthermore, many people who battle substance abuse do not even realize they have a problem. Others want to get help but are unsure where to turn. However, the harsh reality is that one in four US deaths can be attributed to alcohol, tobacco or illicit drug use. There are 100,000 deaths each year from excessive alcohol abuse and another 16,000 deaths due to illicit drug use. These numbers are scary to say the least.

Three Factors to Consider when Battling against Substance Abuse

There is no right way. Many people will react positively to certain medication substitutes while others might be able to beat their problem by entering a rehabilitation facility. Others find it is best to discuss their concerns with a professional therapist and try to figure out what is behind the addiction. There are three things you must consider when battling substance abuse or when helping someone with an addiction.

  1. Willingness is a Must – telling yourself that you want to change is one of the hardest things to do but it is also the first step in the right direction. Many people are unwilling to admit they have a problem or believe that the addiction is bigger than them and thus, they continue down the path to self destruction. There is no perfect time to admit to having a problem and there is no perfect time to accept that changes must be made. This is an individual journey.
  2. Abuse can stem from other Problems – in many instances, substance abuse stems from an underlying problem. Overcoming death, relationship problems, career-related stress, depression, anxiety, self esteem issues or family grievances can all impact your decision to turn to drugs or alcohol. Many people are unsure of why they turn to a substance for relief while others know the case but are unable to dig into this painful experience. It’s important to remember that substance abuse is not your fault and there are ways to overcome this problem.
  3. The Right Support can make all the Difference – most people cannot battle substance abuse on their own. Even if your problem occurs mostly behind closed doors, it is best to have someone to talk to about your problem. If you or someone you love is battling from substance abuse in New York City, consider speaking to a trained counselor in the field of addiction and abuse. A professional therapist can help you overcome your problem but there are other options as well. Friends, family, support groups and even online forums can help you see that you are not alone and that you can beat this problem and move on with your life. There are millions of people across the United States fighting their own personal battle with addiction; however, there are millions of others who have overcome these demons.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to battling substance abuse is that there is help out there. You are not alone. And if you choose to accept this help – and pursue a different life – things can get better. You do not have to keep living the way you have always lived. However, it is up to you to accept the challenge.


Saturday, November 14th, 2009

Four Steps to Overcoming Relationship Problems

Problems with your relationship can be one of the most stressful things to deal with. Your home is your sanctuary and when there is trouble brewing, then you may start avoiding the one place you used to love coming home to. There are a number of things that can cause a strain in relationships – financial issues, past relationships, work-related complications, sexual (or lack thereof) tension, family and friend interferences and different life goals can all negatively impact a relationship.

Almost every couple has problems in their relationship at some point or another. The question is – should you work it out or call it quits? This will depend on a number of factors and will vary in every relationship. However, here are four things you need to try this month before calling it quits and giving up on the life that you have built together.

  1. Do Something to let him/her Know you Care – the little things make all the difference so this week, instead of going about your day avoiding the issues at home, think of ways you can help alleviate these stresses. Send a goofy text message; pick up some flowers on the way home; offer back rubs. These small gestures may put a smile on your partner’s face and help strengthen that breaking bond.
  2. Eat one Meal a Day Together – in almost all relationships, eating every meal together is impossible. You have work; you have prior commitments; you have a life. However, scheduling a sit down dinner every night is a great way to reconnect and recharge as a single unit. Discuss your day, share stories, comment on movies, admit your frustrations and feats – open your mouth and talk. Working late? Then get up early and have breakfast together.
  3. Plan a Mini Break – okay, so it is not reasonable to simply pack up for the month and take a second honeymoon to Paris but think about scheduling a night away this month. Go somewhere just the two of you and think nothing but romance. Red wine and chocolate covered strawberries in a hot tub perhaps? A luxurious spa package and horse carriage ride through Central Park maybe? Wake up after a blissful night together and enjoy a champagne breakfast on your private balcony. A mini break will not only allow you to recharge your individual batteries, but will strengthen your bond as a team and, with any luck, remind you of why you fell in love in the first place.
  4. Make a Date – it sounds so trivial but one of the main reasons relationships crumble is simply because they get too stale and your lives become too busy. If you are both constantly on the go and notice that the only time you are actually in the same room is either to fight, or to sleep, then it’s time to step away from this routine and make some time for good ol’ fashion date night. New York City is filled with beautiful places for the perfect ‘date’ night. Even a simple stroll around Union Square, an evening of romantic cocktails in Upper East Side or a Saturday spent shopping in Chelsea can help you build on your relationship. Have a few ground rules for date night. Topics that usually bring on fights are off-limits; there will be no cell phones or other interruptions; and, like all romantic date nights, your evening must end in the perfect kiss.

When Enough is Enough

In certain instances, there are simply no other avenues to turn to. If your relationship is coming to an end, then you most likely are feeling a whirlwind of emotions – extreme sadness, failure, anger, confusion, guilt. You might find waking up every morning to an empty bed completely depressing or finding a new apartment to live in completely overwhelming. You might feel a ball of rage in the pit of your stomach every time you think of your ex-partner or you might break down into a fit of tears at the thought of what you had, and what is now gone. You might be envious of other couples who walk hand in hand through Manhattan or you may feel bitter and resentful when hearing engagement announcements and seeing wedding photos in the New York Times. These are completely natural emotions to be experiencing after a particularly tough break up. However, if you are finding that these emotions are ruling your life and negatively impacting all aspects then it might be time seek professional assistance in overcoming these emotions.

A New York City relationship counselor can help you come to terms with the past and close the book on that aspect of your life. Sure, you will miss your partner and you will most likely always feel strongly towards him or her, but you also need to know that things happen for a reason and that there is life after the end of a relationship. Overcoming the emotional strains of a relationship will not happen overnight but talking about it with a trained counselor is one of the best steps you can make to moving on. A psychotherapist can help you overcome your sadness/hatred/guilt about a relationship ending and prove that a new life is actually just beginning.

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Twenty Five Tips for Personal Improvement in NYC

We’ve all heard the cliché – life is what you make of it – however, how can you ensure you are making the most out of your life? Most of us, at some point or another, will feel down on ourselves and our achievements. We may feel like we are not fulfilling our life goals and that time is simply passing us by with nothing to show for it. If you are caught in this emotional low, then you need to take a step back and focus on personal improvement.

Personal improvement is the best way to lift your spirits, re-evaluate your life direction and increase your chance of success in everything you do. Personal improvement involves improving your self worth from within- by doing this you are taking the first step to a happier you. The best thing about personal improvement is that it does not take much to improve your self worth. In fact, personal improvement can come simply from getting up a few minutes early, joining a class or enjoying the beautiful New York City views from a new angle. Outlined below are some simple yet effective personal improvement tips that will ensure you are living your life in Manhattan to its full potential each and every day:

Family and Relationships Personal Improvement

  1. Be single and mingle. If you are on the hunt for Mr or Mrs Right, then you need to put yourself out there. Join classes, see sports games, visit galleries and do what you love to do. Eventually you will find someone else who shares these similar passions.
  2. Respect yourself and members of the opposite sex will do the same. I love the phrase: We teach others how we should be treated. What message are you sending on how you should be treated?
  3. Plan trips together, as a couple. For those in a relationship, invest in a yearly vacation for just the two of you. This can be a two week Caribbean adventure or simply a weekend away to the country. Take this time to re-connect as a unit.
  4. Choose family activities you all can enjoy rather than spending the weekends doing separate activities
  5. Always make time for a family meal per day which will allow you to communicate and connect with your loved ones.
  6. Share the responsibilities instead of assuming that someone else will do it. Have both parents cook dinners, do the laundry and be on diaper duty.

Career and Financial Personal Improvement

  1. Assess your skills and thrills and work towards these goals in your career.
  2. Constantly ask questions, which can build communication in the work force and promote a sense of control in your job.
  3. Step away from distractions, including certain co-workers, social networking sites and text messages.
  4. Find your peak work time and take advantage of this. When do you do your best work? For many of us, it is during the morning while others are most productive right before the end of the day. Schedule your harder tasks around these energy boosts.
  5. Track your finances by using a monthly budgeting spreadsheet or compute program. Track what is coming in and what is going out to make sure you stay out of the red.
  6. Be aware of unsecured debt such as your credit card bill. The interest rates on most credit cards are enough to put anyone in dire financial stress. Save the credit card for emergencies or pay it off as best as you can each month.
  7. Research for deals. With the internet, it is easier than ever to do a quick comparison of the different mortgage, car insurance, electricity, phone plans and other rates to make sure you are not paying more than necessary.

Health and Fitness Personal Improvement Tips

  1. Eat breakfast; after all, it’s not called the ‘most important meal of the day’ for nothing.
  2. Take some time to relax each morning. Get up twenty minutes earlier and enjoy a cup of coffee on your balcony. Watch the sun rise over Mid-Town and appreciate the day ahead.
  3. Try to exercise for 30 minutes a day. Even something as small as a 30 minute stroll around your West Village neighbourhood will improve your health
  4. Take up stretching, yoga or Pilates to relax muscles and relieve stress.

Body, Mind and Soul Personal Improvement Tips

  1. If you have the time, volunteer. Giving something back to your NYC community can improve your sense of self worth
  2. Accept mistakes as they happen by developing tolerance and patience. With this comes inner peace.
  3. Keep a journal of your thoughts, fears, worries and problems. Writing your thoughts down can help melt away the stress.
  4. Expect the unexpected. Instead of trying to always control everything around you, understand that there are some things you cannot control. Traffic jams in Manhattan will happen. Just take a deep breath and let nature take its course.
  5. Activate your brain. After they have finished high school and college many people will stop reading and writing on a regular basis. Grab a crossword puzzle or Sudoku to re-activate your mind
  6. Find 20 for you – every day, try to find 20 minutes of ‘me’ time where you can reflect on your day.
  7. Forgive and forget the past. If there is something in the past, such as a poor relationship, holding you back, try to let it go. With time those uncomfortable feelings such as anger, sadness, resentment and rage will fade away as well.
  8. Consider counseling – if there are certain aspects of your life that you simply cannot gain control of, then you might want to speak to someone trained in the area. Many people will turn to a professional NYC psychologist or therapist to help them find the inner strength to reach these personal improvement goals. If you are having trouble finding your self worth and overcoming the obstacles dragging you down, then perhaps a trained counselor can help you find your inner strength to move forward.
Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Manhattan Divorce Counseling: Advice in Battling the Emotional Roller Coaster of Divorce and Achieving Stability

You’ve read the statistics; you’ve heeded the warnings; you’ve seen the distress it can cause; but you never thought it would happen to you. When you signed the marriage certificate and said your vows you never thought divorce would be an option that you and your spouse would have to consider. But now it not only is an option- it is the only one that makes sense.

Divorce is not something anyone signs up for but it is sometimes the only thing left to do in a marriage. It’s important to remember that just because your marriage has failed does not mean it was a mistake in the first place. Marriage was part of a learning experience and a big part of your life. Even if the marriage ended in a complicated divorce, you will still have certain blissful memories of a time when everything was perfect.

Practical Matters of Divorce

There are certain steps you need to take when it comes to battling through divorce that must be done. First of all, you will need to contact a divorce lawyer to establish the legal and financial well-being of both parties. You will need to check over your finances and split up any items you share. This may include custody of the children, family support, division or property and division of assets.

You will also need to move out and, eventually, move on. Most divorce proceedings will have one partner moving out of the house. If this is you, then it’s time to start looking for a new house or a new NYC neighbourhood. You also need to move on with your single life as best as possible. Try to focus on the things you loved to do before the divorce- going to the gym, catching up with friends, seeing movies, hosting dinner parties. Do not let the divorce infect all areas of your life. Work to establish structure.

Of course, this is a lot easier said than done. Divorce can feel like your entire world has collapsed and leave you raw with several complex emotions. Your self esteem may suffer; you may feel like you have failed; you may be resentful and angry, especially when seeing happy couples on the New York City streets; you may look towards bad habits in order to help you overcome this pain. Instead of turning to a bottle of wine (or three or four), try these divorce counselling tips for moving on with your life after your marriage comes to an end.

Stability after Divorce

One of the best ways to achieve a level of stability after divorce is to rely on others for emotional support. Many people who are overcoming a divorce have a hard time letting go of the pain and frustration that comes along with it. Look to those around you to help you out. It might be best to avoid couple dinner parties and smug married couple friends during this tough time and instead turn to those who have gone through the same situation. Group support and even online forums may be able to provide you with some assistance. A divorce counselor can offer you professional help in battling your emotional pain. Sometimes the fastest way to forgive and move on is simply to talk it out. Your friends, your family and your Manhattan divorce counselor are all there to listen.

Another great way to get through your divorce is to focus on the ‘u’ instead of the ‘us.’ For years you have probably been part of the ‘we’ team and it can often be hard to get back into the individual mind frame. You don’t have to worry about sides of the bed or cooking without a certain food that your spouse hated. You don’t have to put up with bad movies because it’s not your turn to pick the movie. And, you don’t have to spend those Saturday evenings at your in-laws for dinner anymore. Instead, you are free to focus on you, you and more you!

So what do you want to do?

This can actually be a hard question to answer, especially when your mind is so used to doing things as a team. Try to think back to the things you loved before you got married and write a list of all the things you’ve wanted to do but never had the time for. You can now rearrange your schedule so that you are kept busy with things that make you happy. Perhaps you could redecorate your apartment or join a gym. Perhaps you can now take that cooking class, that pottery class or that vacation to Mexico with your friends. Or, perhaps you can simply enjoy a casual walk around your neighborhood or glass of wine with friends after a long day of work without worrying about the looming fight awaiting you at home.

When a marriage ends, regardless of the length of the marriage or the outcome of the divorce, it can leave your physically, mentally and emotionally drained. However, with the right counseling, support groups and inner strength, you will be ready to tackle your divorce and move ahead with your life with civility, grace and acceptance and an open mind.

Monday, November 9th, 2009

Coping with Job Loss in a Tough New York City Market

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the current unemployment rate across the United States is 9.8%. New York currently has an unemployment rate of 8.9% which means nearly 1 in 10 New Yorkers are looking for work. Job loss can lead to several problems in your life including financial strain, emotional strain and mental strain. You may have trouble providing for your family, paying the mortgage and keeping food on the table. You may be suffering from pending foreclosure, looming credit card debt and credit report complications. You may have some reserves about accepting welfare and feel guilty about the situation. You may lack self esteem and confidence to get back out in the job market, especially with the competition for work so incredibly fierce. Whatever is going through your mind, coping with job loss is not an easy thing. You need to re-arrange your life and re-adjust your mental mind frame to start again, which can be especially hard in today’s current economic situation.

Coping with job loss has been ranked as one of the most stressful situations in one’s life, up there with divorce, moving, and dealing with a death in the family. There are a number of terms for job loss including being laid off, downsized, getting dismissed, receiving your pink slip – but the implications and the emotional reactions are the same – complete disappointment. Regardless of the reason you have been laid off, you are most likely going to feel like you have done something wrong and that you were not good enough; this can lead to serious self esteem issues. As we all know, searching for a new job can be a challenge to say the least and one of the most important things when on the hunt for a new career is to remain confident and positive.

Tips to Coping with Job Loss

Below are four tips for coping in New York City. Keep in mind that everyone has a different way of handling job loss – these suggestions may be able to help but it is up to you to make the first move forward.

  • Take time for yourself – this is probably the last thing you want to do, especially if you are currently feeling like a failure for losing your job. However, it’s important that you let go of damaging thoughts and focus on regaining the positives in your life. Think back to another time when you have had to deal with a problem – what did you do then to get out of the slump? Perhaps a walk around Central Park would clear your mind? Or maybe a long bath would help ease your fears of the future?
  • Turn to friends, family and professional help for support – you may feel like the only thing you want to do right now is curl up on the couch and sleep but now, more than ever, you need to open your door and let your support group in. Meet up in Manhattan for a cup of coffee and to vent your anger and frustration. Take in a lunch date in the Upper East Side with your parents and ask them for some advice. Or, consider speaking to a professional NYC career counselor about the situation. He can help you come to terms with what happened and focus on moving forward. He can also help you assess your strengths, weaknesses and career goals to make sure you are on the right path. Regardless of whether you belong in an office on Wall Street or in an excavator on the streets of the Upper East Side, a New York City counselor can help you see your job loss in the best of light.
  • Focus on your Finances – when coping with job loss, it’s important to assess your finances before going any further. You will need to make a spreadsheet and most likely cut down on some of those luxuries in life. You also might need to speak to your lending company about changing your payment rates. Job loss is a common problem not only in New York City, but around the United States. Most lending companies are willing to work with you while you get your career back on track. You just need to be honest about the situation.
  • Get Down to Work – once you are feeling emotionally ready to tackle the next chapter of your life, it is time to start the job search. You should consider looking for a job a full-time career. Devote 40 hours a week to perfecting your resume, searching for work, making follow up calls and scheduling appointments. If you treat the hunt for a job like full time work, then it will be easier to remain motivated at the task at hand. If you are having trouble staying focused during the day, consider using a day planner to split up the different tasks you need to do. Writing down your day will keep you busy and less likely to sleep in, watch daytime television and mope around the house.

When coping with NYC job loss, it can be tempting to simply shut out the loud noises and crawl into your own bubble. But this is not going to put food on the table and it is also not going to help you achieve your career goals. Just because your job has come simply means that another chapter in your career has opened up. Consider this positive fact when on the hunt for that next perfect position.

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