Can Your Relationships Make You Sick?

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Can your relationships really make you sick? In a word… YES! I have worked with so many clients over the years that have struggled with maintaining relationships that no longer served them out of loyalty. The fear of how someone may react or respond when new boundaries are set can lead to silent suffering for many. For people of color, support to and from our communities is incredibly important. But, what happens when certain community norms amongst your loved ones no longer work well for you? Anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and heart disease can all be impacted by our emotions and how they relate to our connections with others. Here are 5 red flags to watch out for:

 

1. You feel drained – If you are often left feeling physically or emotionally exhausted after interacting with someone, this can be a huge red flag that something’s not right. A lack of boundaries is often the culprit in many of these cases. These encounters can leave you feeling tired, anxious and even physically sick. This is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Listen.

2. It’s all about them (their thoughts, their needs, their problems) - To be very clear, there are people in your life that may attempt to manipulate you by dominating all of your time. People that utilize this strategy for your attention are always in crisis and always need your help. However, many times these encounters are not about the crisis. Instead, they are driven by a need for your attention. This is why no matter how you try to assist, offer advice, or intervene in other ways, their situations stay the same. Entering into this pattern can prevent you from focusing on the people and activities you love and enjoy most. Instead of spending sleepless nights worried about what you cannot truly control, let them do their own internal work. Your loved ones must do this for themselves to see permanent change in their own lives.

3. They never show up for you - While relationships go through many different seasons, all connections should have some mutuality. If you find yourself going above and beyond for others while you struggle alone and in silence regularly, it’s time to re-assess the quality of your relationships. Also, are you clear and open about what you need with your friends and loved ones or do you assume they should know what you need? If you’re making assumptions, this can lead you to harboring resentment and anger.

4. You feel obligated – This can be very tricky, but choosing to continue a relationship with someone purely out of “obligation” is never ideal. I see this often in families, where there are some family members that are allowed to act out against other family members, without consequence. Controlling how and when you interact with these individuals is incredibly important. While there may be some responsibilities you choose to take on, emotional torture and abuse should not be on this list.

5. You’re more committed to others’ wellness over your own – You may be very used to coming in and saving the day for your friends and family members. Amongst groups, there is usually a “go-to” person that is designated as the problem solver. This role can be incredibly draining, especially if the problem solver has nowhere to turn when they face challenges of their own. If you fall into this category, you must be very diligent about taking good care of yourself. How many times have you observed a caregiver falling sick and declining faster than the person they were caring for to begin with? Prioritizing self care is not selfish. It’s necessary.

Taking on bad relationships is a form of neglect against yourself and can very bad for your physical and emotional health. Consider some ways you can be kinder to yourself by being more mindful about the people and situations you engage in.

Married Women Need Girls Trips Too! Here’s Why

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So, you’re well settled into your marriage. Maybe you have a kid or two. Things are busy with work and juggling life’s demands overall. So, why do I think it’s a great idea to plan a fun weekend away with your closest friends? Here are my top 5 reasons:

1. You’re Feeling Less Connected – The older you get, the easier it can be to isolate yourself from friends and family. Between your own schedule, your partner’s and your children’s’ activities, it can be easy to become completely consumed with all the demands that may come your way. Isolation in general is never ideal and when left unchecked can wreak havoc on your emotional health. Another reality is that in order to have friends, you must make the effort to maintain these relationships. Taking a temporary step back from your day-to-day demands can free you up to connect with your friends on a more intimate level.

2. You Need a Good Laugh – There is absolutely nothing like sharing in a good laugh with great friends in person. Period. When you spend time around people that you care about, a hormone called oxytocin is released. This natural mood-booster can improve your mental wellness by decreasing your stress levels and anxiety. So, whether you decide on a road trip or travel internationally, the fun, special moments you can share while exploring new locations can provide you just the pick me up you need.

3. Your Partner Is Not The Globetrotting Type – No matter what, your spouse/partner can never truly replace the relationships that you have with your girlfriends. In fact, it’s unfair to even expect this in your romantic relationships. The pressure to be everything to any one person is often a burden to heavy to bear. This is especially important if your partner doesn’t love to travel to new destinations. Instead of pressuring your partner into going on your next trip with you, invite a couple of girlfriends instead.

4. You’re Craving New Memories In New Locations – It’s easy to get into the same routine when it comes to your friendships. Maybe there’s a restaurant or a lounge that you frequent together in your area. While there is something to be said for indulging in nostalgia, opening yourself up to a new adventure can do wonders for your friendships. The best times of your friendship aren’t necessarily in the past. Your most precious moments may in fact be ahead of you as you explore more about yourself and your friends at a new destination. So, if you’ve been bitten by the travelling bug, invite your friends along for the ride!

5. It’s Good For Your Health – Yes, you read that right. And no, interacting online is not a replacement for good old in-person interaction. According to a study published by Sage Journals in 2015, social isolation can impact your mortality. Avoiding contact with others shares the same health equivalent as smoking up to 15 cigarettes per day. So, there you have it. Isolating yourself from good friends is scientifically unhealthy. While travel can seem indulgent, it can be one of the most powerful forms of self-care you can practice.

 

So, book the flight, make the hotel reservations or hop in the car. Life is way too short to restrict yourself for fear of judgement from others. Let them judge away while you LIVE your life. Better health and wellness may be one awesome girls’ trip away.

Why You're Dimming Your Light (And How To Stop)

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We’ve all heard a phrase similar to the following: Never dim your light for anyone. In theory, this statement is easy to accept and agree with. But what about in practice? What do you do when competition and jealousy begin to rear their head in your relationship? Here are some tips to ensure your date/partner appreciates and encourages you to shine bright.

  • Know Your Worth - Having a healthy sense of self-worth is important for your own wellness and personal satisfaction. With that being said, the way that you regard yourself can have a significant impact on your relationships. If you are unsure of yourself and insecure about your abilities, you may attract a partner that will exploit that. Focusing on confidence building help you feel more comfortable in your own skin, which can help you feel more attractive and help you attract the right mate.

  • Connect With Other Superstars - When the norm among your friends is to conform to predetermined expectations and diminish your greatness, it can be increasingly difficult to break free from that mold. Seek out connections with other women that are successful on the dating scene, while resisting the urge to sacrifice their happiness in the process.

  • Banish Your Fear - Fear of your inability to find a partner that will truly accept you for who you are often fuels temptation to scale down certain aspects of your personality, boundaries and successes. Instead of focusing on quantity, focus on quality instead. The last thing you want are a string of dates or partners that will encourage you to deny all the positive aspects of who you are. Instead of focusing on what you’re afraid of, make decisions based on your hopes, dreams and the potential for positive outcomes instead.

Healthy connections are always better than more connections. While they may be fewer in number, a healthy relationship will allow your light to grow and flourish more beautifully than you could ever imagine.

5 Reasons To Keep Kondo-ing Out of Your Dating Life

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The minute I read Marie Kondo’s “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying-Up”, I was instantly inspired to sort through all of my belongings, ridding myself of all items that no longer brought me joy or peace in any way. I raided my closet, emptied my drawers and cleared out my nightstand that was overflowing with old mail and greeting cards. From there, I set my sights on the kitchen next, de-cluttering my refrigerator and pantry to ensure that each item I held onto served a very specific purpose for either myself or one of my family members.

Well in some cases, you can have too much of a good thing, especially when it comes to managing your relationships. This new KonMari trend has now made an impact on the way some are approaching their relationships. The “Kondo-ing” dating trend takes a different spin on Kondo’s popular cleaning method, as partners drop their mates the moment they no longer spark joy. Here’s why eliminating someone from your life completely because they don’t bring you joy can spell disaster for your connections with others:

  1. You’re missing out on supporting them - If your partner is going through a difficult time at work or in other areas of their personal life, they may not have the emotional energy to “cheer up” or “relax and have a good time.” One of the benefits of having a relationship is for support when life’s circumstances challenge us. Instead of cutting them off completely and assuming you know the root cause, take the time to express your concern for their happiness and well-being.

  2. It sabotages your ability to commit - Any real, meaningful connection will be tested at one point or another. Cutting someone out of your life simply because you’ve had a disagreement robs you of the opportunity to sharpen your conflict resolution skills and create an even deeper connection with your significant other. When conflict arises, discuss your concerns and be open to hearing your partner’s. We can learn so much about ourselves and those around us when we are open to hearing other opinions.

  3. It stunts your personal growth - Sometimes you need to hear the cold, hard truth and it WON’T always “bring you joy”, but it can bring you a new outlook or perspective you hadn’t considered before. While you may think you want a partner that always says “yes” to any and everything you want, the ideal mate will challenge you to be your best self. Stepping into the fullness of who you are can be uncomfortable and an amazing partner will encourage you to do just that.

  4. It breeds resentment - Imagine living with a partner that has expressed that the moment you upset them, they will leave. The threat of abandonment in this case is incredibly cruel, one-sided and unhealthy. In fact, it’s not a relationship at all. Over time, this kind of arrangement will breed resentment and is prime for infidelity, as only one person’s needs are being met.

  5. It’s unrealistic - The reality is, there is no way that your partner will always bring you happiness. While the good times should certainly outweigh the bad, life changes and situations will arise that cause you to question what truly makes you happy to begin with. How can we expect our partners to bring us happiness when we are not always sure what that would entail? Saddling your partner with aiming for a moving target is unfair and a waste of everyone’s time and energy.

The real key to enjoying yourself and building healthy relationships is to bring yourself joy. So, instead of eliminating your partner the moment they do something to upset you, challenge yourself to examine the situation, your feelings about it and express that to your partner. By working through the issue together, you may be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

Rhonda's Top 7 Tips to Nip Stress in the Bud Now!

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Stress can be both physically and emotionally overwhelming and has been linked to many medical and mental health issues. Here are 7 tips to help you nip stress in the bud:

1) Connect with others – Seek out support from family, friends and pets.

2) Manage your time – Take the time to write out a to-do list. As you complete the tasks on your list, cross them off and pat yourself on the back.

3) Avoid unhealthy coping – Just say no to relying on alcohol, drugs, or smoking as they only provide temporary relief without addressing the source of your stress.

4) Get some exercise – Hiking, salsa dancing, boxing. Whatever you prefer, pick something you love and get moving.

5) Mental imagery – Take some time to visualize yourself conquering a difficult situation. What would that look like and how would you feel?

6) Get some rest – Sleep deprivation can lead to irritability and increase overall stress. Wind down 1 hour prior to bedtime by doing things that relax you like reading a soothing book or drinking a cup of hot tea.

7) Set goals – Jot down a few short or long term goals for yourself and post them up where you can see them each morning.

Try one or all of these tips.  Your mind and body will thank you for it!

Event Recap: Spring Into Self-Care with Burke Williams Day Spa

Burke williams spring skincare media event 

Burke williams spring skincare media event 

Day spas have long been a staple for my personal self-care routine. From the classic Swedish massage to taking a dip in the whirlpool, a day at the spa always leaves me feeling rested, rejuvenated and ready to take on the world! So, when Burke Williams invited me to their Spring Skin Care Event at the Westfield Topanga, I simply could not pass it up!

mini massage at the burke williams spring skincare event

mini massage at the burke williams spring skincare event

In honor of Stress Awareness Month, guests were treated to mini massage treatments, facials, custom-blended body products and "Instalifts" via Nu Face. I also had the opportunity to learn all about the signature H2V skincare line, sold at Burke Williams Spa.  

Discussing life and love with Theresa Armour, co-founder of Burke Williams Spa, was certainly one of the evening's highlights for me. She shared some insight on how she built her amazing brand while keeping her marriage and family at the top of her priority list. During it's inception, Theresa envisioned Burke Williams as "a place for the soul to rest," which has led to the creation and overwhelming success of these spaces for recovery, healing and wellness. Bravo to Theresa and Burke's amazing staff!

 

Rhonda richards-smith & Theresa Armour, co-founder of burke williams day spa

Rhonda richards-smith & Theresa Armour, co-founder of burke williams day spa

I will be sharing some of my favorite self-care strategies during the month of May here. What are some of your favorite tips when it comes to taking good care of yourself?