Romantic partners often struggle with an essential element: setting boundaries. Relationship boundaries can be difficult to establish and carry out. Social conditioning, not having the necessary knowledge, or worrying about the other person’s perception and response can compromise one’s boundaries.

Everybody responds to boundaries differently and many don’t want to risk having their romantic partner feel insulted or turned off by their need to set boundaries. At times adopting boundaries in a relationship may be perceived as rejection or dismissiveness.

While boundaries can be difficult to establish, they play an important role in healthy relationship dynamics. Fortunately, there are ways to build boundaries in a respectful way that don’t exclude mutual understanding. Healthy boundaries will earn you your partner’s respect and a personal space indispensable for growth and well-being.

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What Does a Healthy Relationship Look Like

Defining a healthy relationship isn’t easy because each individual has their distinctive needs. Still, there are numerous signs that can indicate when a relationship is going in the right direction:

  • There is mutual respect and the desire to tend to your partner’s needs
  • Intimacy flourishes and it is based on vulnerability
  • Communication is thorough and open
  • You trust your partner enough to share your weaknesses, past, and desires (and vice versa)
  • Both of you express lots of fondness and affection
  • Both of you enjoy spending quality time together
  • You enjoy alone time or spend time with your friends away from your partner
  • You have your togetherness and your personal space
  • You feel that you have both a partnership and a deep friendship
  • There is shared responsibility in terms of growing and evolving as a couple and as individuals

As you’ve probably figured out already, most of these characteristics spring from healthy boundaries.

LGBTQ

What Are Personal Boundaries

The term refers to setting healthy borders and letting your partner know what you feel comfortable with. In other words, a boundary tells them when to stop without crossing a certain line.

Boundaries in a relationship can define many things – one’s individuality, responsibilities, and emotional and physical needs. Essentially, boundaries are about the relationship that you have with yourself and the things you need in order to thrive. Your sense of identity and confidence are both heavily dependent on boundary establishment.

Types of Relationship Boundaries

There are various types of boundaries that will play an important role in a healthy relationship:

  • Emotional boundaries: They are linked to your feelings and having your emotional needs met. What would you like to do when you feel upset? Or needy? Or angry? It’s essential to communicate this information with your partner so that they can respond adequately when the situation arises.
  • Physical boundaries: How do you like your body to be treated? How important is your personal space? What about privacy? All of these elements fall under the physical boundaries umbrella. Are you comfortable with public displays of affection? Do you like to cuddle when you sleep, or would you like to be left alone? How do you feel about nudity? These are important questions pertaining to the setting of physical boundaries.
  • Sexual boundaries: Define what you feel comfortable with during intimacy. While sexual boundaries can be very difficult to communicate, they’re essential if you want to have a safe and connected sex life.
  • Other kinds of boundaries: Many people have additional boundaries depending on their character, lifestyle needs, and individual preferences. These may include financial boundaries, intellectual boundaries, time boundaries (setting your priorities and letting a partner know how much time you can dedicate to various aspects of the relationship), and material and spiritual boundaries.

Examples of Healthy Relationship Boundaries

Now that you know the various boundary categories, let’s discover a few actual examples to shed more clarity on how they look.

An example of an effective boundary in the physical realm may be asking your partner to touch you in a certain way or to give you privacy while you’re using the bathroom.

An emotional boundary would look like this: “I am very anxious and stressed out right now. Talking about our relationship isn’t a good idea for the moment. Could you please give me some time?”

Sexual boundaries come in many shapes. Asking for consent before trying something new is one of them. Discussing birth control or STD screening is also an example of a healthy sexual boundary.

couple of women smiling

How to Set Relationship Boundaries

Your happiness and the health of the romantic relationship both depend on healthy boundaries. In order to successfully establish them you’ll need to go through a few important steps:

  • Know what you want in a relationship: There are certain non-negotiable boundaries you need to be happy. Start out with the “big” boundaries and inform your partner about them. The sooner you start the conversation, the easier it will be to build the kind of relationship you find fulfilling. Try to direct the conversation towards your partner’s boundaries, as well.
  • Talk to your partner openly about your needs: This step often involves challenging conversations. Talking about sex, money or spirituality can be difficult because these are all sensitive topics. If you keep an open mind, you’re clear, and time the conversation correctly, however, you’ll be on the path to success.
  • Understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy boundaries: Unhealthy boundaries tend to be very rigid and motivated by the wrong thing. The desire to control your partner can be a very bad motivator. The same applies to the fear of rejection. You should have a good understanding of healthy boundaries and the role they play in relationships. It’s also important to know that boundaries can change with the passage of time. Keep an open mind and work on addressing boundary issues or the overall lack of boundaries. By doing so, you’ll evolve alongside the partnership you’re building right now.
  • Learn from your mistakes: Mistakes are inevitable. If you view them as learning opportunities, you can set healthier boundaries in the future.
  • Listen to your partner: Setting boundaries is a bi-directional process. In other words, you have to put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Understand their needs, desires, and non-negotiables. Try to find the middle ground between your needs and theirs. Remain open to further discussion in the future. Fulfilling your partner’s needs may sometimes be difficult but it’s the only way to build trust and happiness.

A healthy relationship takes into account the boundaries of two people. These are set with respect and clear communication. Learning how to set boundaries takes time. Start early enough in the relationship and address mistakes on the go.

Having a good understanding of each other’s expectations and handling challenges/opportunities together will result in the balance required for a relationship to become unbreakable and for you to fall further in love with each passing day.

Did you know there’s a scientific reason why most of us struggle to make friends as adults? Many of us find it challenging to open up and connect with someone right off the bat. However, this doesn’t stop us from looking for ways to make new friends. Humans are, after all, social beings.

Do you sometimes feel lonely and disconnected? You’re not the only one and it doesn’t necessarily mean there is something wrong with you. Recent studies have found we have fewer friends than ever before. Remote work, digital networking, and hectic lifestyles are all to blame for the phenomenon.

Why is it so difficult to connect and build trust in your 20s, 30s, and later on in life? And is there anything we could do to overcome the difficulties, embrace opportunities and build a brand-new community as an adult? Psychology has some great tips and tricks for you to count on.

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Why Meaningful and Profound Social Interactions Are Difficult for Adults

Children can naturally get close to new people and turn casual acquaintances into friends effortlessly. The fear of rejection isn’t strong yet and the efforts are minimal. Adult friendships, however, are a lot more challenging to establish and maintain.

When we carry a lot of our lived history and experiences into our adult lives, we may find it a lot more challenging to be open and vulnerable – two vital ingredients for any lasting relationship. Unplanned new interactions also don’t occur as often. Even if you’re consciously seeking such opportunities, they can be hard to come by.

Adults also lack the time needed to build new friendships. Sociologists believe it takes about 50 hours to make a casual friend and about 200 hours to turn that acquaintance into a close friend. Chances are you may find it difficult to find time in investing in something new. A busy job, kids, and personal responsibilities can all stand in the way of establishing and nurturing a new social connection.

Start by Leveraging Your Current Social Network

So, let’s say you’re dissatisfied with your social life and would like to add a few new people to your circle of friends. The easiest way to start out involves harnessing the power of your current network. Meeting friends of friends is a lot simpler than having to gather courage and interact with complete strangers.

Getting to meet new people through mutual friends is one of the low-effort opportunities you should employ before turning to anything else. Your friends and acquaintances know you well and also have some idea about the kinds of people you gravitate towards. Even work colleagues can introduce you to new people and present you with opportunities you wouldn’t get otherwise.

A friend of a friend may be feeling the exact same way and seeking meaningful connections too. Finding that person is simply a matter of speaking up and letting others know about your intentions. Even if these endeavors go nowhere, they’ll help you get in the right mindset for new kinds of social exploration.

meeting new people from different cultures and races

Use the Power of the Mere Exposure Effect

The mere exposure effect is a psychological phenomenon by which people develop preferences for the things they become familiar with. The same principle applies to social interactions.

So, how can you use the power of this phenomenon to make new friends? The answer is a lot simpler than you might think – join a group that meets regularly and shares a common interest.

Networking events are a great way to meet potential friends and consolidate friendships. Try a sports class, a book club, a yoga class, an art class, or any social club that meets on a regular basis and practices a certain hobby you love.

Not only will you meet the same people regularly, but you’ll also enjoy an activity that brings you pleasure. A shared interest is an excellent icebreaker. And if this doesn’t do the trick immediately, getting to meet the same people time and time again will deliver a sense of comfort that will encourage social exploration.

Consider Coaching and Therapy

For many people, being vulnerable is the biggest challenge to conquer in the face of networking and finding true friends.

By the time we reach adulthood, most of us will have been rejected. Rejection fosters fear. Many people will simply choose to refrain from opening up in an attempt to protect themselves.

If that situation sounds pretty much like your social life, the time may be right to consider some coaching or therapy.

A therapist or psychologist can help you pinpoint the root cause of your social anxiety and fear of rejection. You will also be provided with the right tools to help you overcome social isolation and cope with such hindrances. Knowing how to work around the fear will allow you to embrace new social situations instead of running from those in fear.

group of three friends hugging

Focus on Quality and Not Quantity

It’s a well-known fact that most adults don’t have too many friends. In fact, 49 percent of Americans report having three or fewer close friends.

That’s not necessarily a problem. In fact, limiting your social interactions is a normal part of becoming mature and knowing what you need from the people in your social circle. As you age, you become much more capable of identifying toxicity and emotionally draining social interactions.

So, instead of focusing on numerous new casual friendships, try to foster a few meaningful relationships. In the world of social interactions, quality is much more important than quantity. You want to interact with people who get you, empower you and have your back.

So, once you establish your “chemistry” with someone, start deepening that relationship. Putting your efforts into helping the relationship grow instead of getting to meet dozens of new people will give you the highest level of satisfaction.

Final Thoughts

Putting your heart and soul into every new acquaintance you make is impossible. This is why you have to be selective about emotional investments. And that’s ok. You are in control and have the power to choose how deep you will go.

If you believe that a certain relationship isn’t going anywhere, you have the power to pull back and opt out of the interaction. Boundaries are as important as opening yourself up to new things.

Once you sow the seeds of new friendships, you’ll have to move on and enter the maintenance stage. Making friends is just the first step. If you’re looking for something meaningful, you’ll have to embark on a journey. To maintain your new friendships, do get in the habit of reaching out, being present, communicating effectively, and showing up for your new friends the way you’d like them to show up for you.

Love is often thought of as a mysterious phenomenon that cannot be boiled down to just one definition. The “invention” of love is often attributed to the 12th-century French poets who introduced ‘l’amour courtois‘ (courtly love) to the world. Troubadours and artists turned the idea of romance and passion into an essential theme that would soon dominate their work and conquer hearts worldwide. The history of love is long and fascinating but is love a truth or a concept?

What Is Love?

From a scientific perspective, the experience of love is rooted in chemistry and biology. When we feel attracted to someone, it’s because their pheromones have triggered the release of dopamine and other neurotransmitters in our brains.

Dopamine works to reward us for feeling pleasure; when a person experiences strong feelings of love, they’re also experiencing intense pleasure that can be attributed to high levels of dopamine. Oxytocin is another hormone released during moments of intimacy or closeness with someone we care about; it helps us form bonds and trust each other more deeply.

Serotonin plays an important role as well – low levels are associated with obsessiveness and anxiety in relationships, while higher levels bring security and contentment. All these hormones work together to create the complex emotion we know as love.

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Attraction: The Biology of Love

Romantic love has long been a source of fascination for poets, authors, and psychologists alike. But it is only in recent years that the science behind attraction has come to light. The chemical reactions that occur between two romantic partners have an incredible impact on their behavior, emotions, and overall health.

One of the most studied hormones involved in attraction is oxytocin, often referred to as the “cuddle hormone.” When humans experience physical contact with someone they are attracted to, their body releases oxytocin which increases feelings of bonding and trust. This can lead to further physical contact and even more intense feelings of connection. Oxytocin also plays a role in sexual arousal by increasing genital sensitivity and making orgasms stronger.

Another important hormone involved in attraction is dopamine, which is known as the “pleasure hormone” because it increases pleasure during sex. When we’re attracted to someone, our brain releases dopamine into our system, which gives us a rush of energy and pleasure when we’re around or think about them. This can create an addictive feeling towards the other person as our brains become wired to seek out this sense of pleasure when we see them or interact with them again.

Lastly, serotonin is linked to feelings of contentment and is believed to play an important role in sustaining our relationships. This neurotransmitter has a major role in sustaining relationships; it’s believed to be one of the main mechanisms responsible for forming strong and positive connections between individuals. People with higher levels of serotonin are more likely to experience an increase in positive emotions, such as affection and happiness, when interacting with others. Thus, serotonin appears to play a critical role in maintaining lasting relationships by supporting healthy communication patterns and increasing mutual understanding among couples.

couple of women smiling

Attachment: The Psychology of Love

Relationships are complex, and what is commonly referred to as “love” can be broken down into many components. At the core of any loving relationship lies the bond between two people, known as attachment. This phenomenon has been studied by psychologists since 1940 when John Bowlby first proposed his attachment theory. Attachment is a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space. It’s an innate need for closeness and security that develops in early infancy with the primary caregiver, usually a parent or guardian, but can also form between adults in romantic relationships.

Attachment theory proposes that our earliest experiences shape how we interact with others throughout our lives, especially in intimate relationships. According to this research, secure attachments lead to healthier relationships with better communication and problem-solving abilities than those with insecure attachments due to trauma or neglect from their childhood caregivers.

Additionally, there are different types of attachment styles – such as secure, anxious-ambivalent, dismissive-avoidant, or fearful-avoidant – that influence how individuals respond to intimacy and show love toward each other. Ultimately, understanding the psychology behind attachment can help us understand why some relationships thrive while others struggle.

Our need for security, our interpersonal styles, and our level of self-esteem will also play significant roles in the way we receive and give love. Our need for security is closely related to our attachment style, as individuals with a secure attachment style are more likely to feel secure in their relationships. In contrast, individuals with an anxious attachment style often feel insecure and need reassurance from their partner.

Our interpersonal styles describe our individual preferences for communication, physical contact, and emotional support. Individuals with a secure interpersonal style tend to be more comfortable expressing their feelings and are more responsive to their partner’s needs.

Finally, our level of self-esteem determines how we experience love. Individuals with a higher level of self-esteem are more likely to feel secure and satisfied in their relationships, whereas those with a lower level of self-esteem may struggle to maintain healthy relationships.

couple enjoying a walk in the park

Love on the Brain – Metaphor or Reality?

Love on the brain is a concept that has been discussed in many ways. From a scientific perspective, two main areas of research have emerged in recent years: those focusing on the physical and chemical changes in the brain associated with romantic love and those exploring whether these biochemical transformations can be accurately described as “love” or simply metaphorically.

The physical changes in the brain associated with romantic love include increases in dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline, and other “happy hormones.” These hormones result in a feeling of well-being and pleasure, often leading to positive behaviors like cuddling, touch, eye contact, and other intimate acts. At a more subconscious level, some researchers suggest that these hormones cause us to become attached to another person – almost like an addiction – strengthening our bond with them over time.

Studies have found that when people are in love, certain areas of the brain become more active. These areas are known as the reward system and are associated with pleasure. This means that when people are in love and experience strong chemistry, they may feel a pleasurable sensation, much like a “high.”

So, it seems that although the phrase “love on the brain” may be used metaphorically, it is also scientifically accurate. It is clear that when we fall in love, changes occur in the brain that can lead to strong emotional connections and a feeling of euphoria, which we often identify as romantic chemistry.

However, it is essential to remember that this feeling is not necessarily permanent. Studies have found that when the relationship ends, the brain’s structure and chemistry return to their pre-love state. This means that although love can leave an indelible mark on our minds, it is not necessarily forever.

lesbian couple

Pheromones: Smell and Chemistry

Pheromones are chemical signals released by an individual into their environment and act as communication between different members of the same species. They play a role in communication, mating behavior, and other physiological functions. The smell of pheromones is often described as musky or animalistic, but due to its complexity, it can vary greatly between different individuals. When two people interact with one another, they release different pheromone combinations that cause both physical and emotional reactions in the other person.

The chemistry behind pheromones is complex and still being studied today. It involves hormones such as testosterone and estrogen, as well as neurochemicals such as dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals interact with each other to create a unique scent for each individual, which then acts upon the brain’s pleasure centers to trigger physical attraction or even sexual desire in some cases.

Pheromones also have the ability to communicate social status, moods, emotions, dominance hierarchy within groups of animals or humans, and even age-related information about potential mates.

The effects of love pheromones on a person’s behavior are not yet fully understood. However, research suggests that they can help to foster feelings of intimacy and connection, as well as increase the chances of a successful relationship. It is thought that the effects of love pheromones are more likely to be effective in the early stages of a relationship when feelings of attraction and love are still developing.

couple hugging on the sofa at home

Intimacy: Long-Term Bonding

Long-term bonding is the result of an intimate relationship that involves a deep connection between two or more individuals. This type of bond can be created through physical, mental, and emotional intimacy. Physical intimacy includes close contact with one another, such as kissing, hugging, and cuddling, while mental and emotional intimacy involves honest communication, trust, and shared understanding.

Intimacy is a crucial component of any relationship, but it is especially important in long-term relationships where love and trust must be cultivated over time. While the definition of intimacy can vary from person to person, it generally refers to a feeling of closeness and connection between two people that is more than a physical attraction.

From a psychological perspective, intimacy is an essential component of healthy relationships because it promotes strong bonds between two people and helps to create a safe and secure environment where both partners can express their feelings openly.

Intimacy is often seen as a cornerstone of successful long-term relationships, as it allows couples to build a deep, trusting bond with one another. It is through this bond that couples can share their most intimate thoughts and feelings, allowing them to be truly vulnerable with one another. This trust and openness make it much easier for couples to communicate openly and honestly, allowing them to work through any issues they may have.

Intimacy is essential for couples to understand each other’s needs and wants, as well as for them to feel secure in their relationship. Intimacy can help to create a safe and secure environment where both partners feel safe to express their true feelings and desires without fear of rejection. This, in turn, can help to strengthen the commitment between two people, allowing them to develop a strong and lasting bond of love and trust.

gay couple

Conclusion: Unraveling the Mystery of Love

In the end, the mystery of love and attraction can be difficult to unravel. Love and romantic passion are a complex blend of biochemical interactions, hormones, cognitive and emotional responses, and social influences that interact in a dynamic way over time.

Our understanding of the chemistry of this universal emotion is continuously evolving as our knowledge of neurochemistry improves. However, we can safely assume that our experience of love has both physiological and psychological components that combine together to create powerful experiences.

Although research on the subject is ongoing, it is clear from what we do know that chemistry does play an essential role in attracting us to another person and ultimately making us fall in love with them.

Prefer to watch? Join me and Kel Haines, a bodybuilder, personal trainer, and trans man working hard to help LGBTQIA+ folks navigate the challenges of a cisgender-dominated fitness world. We discuss Kel’s journey and how he and others are creating a more inclusive space in fitness, as well as, providing guidance, resources, and encouragement for the under-served LGBTQIA+ community.

If you’re looking for an inclusive personal trainer you can learn more about Kel and his projects below:

Constant Evolution Fitness

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The Fitness Lab

The Lab Podcast

The fitness industry is a heavily gendered environment, and many gyms, fitness classes, and fitness-related activities are segregated by gender. This can be a difficult and challenging situation for trans* folx, as they may feel uncomfortable or unwelcome in these spaces. Furthermore, gender-expansive individuals may be subjected to discrimination, harassment, and ridicule if they don’t fit the binary of the fitness culture.

What Is Toxic Fitness Culture

At its core, toxic fitness culture is characterized by an obsession with “perfect” bodies, a focus on achieving physical perfection, and a disregard for the physical and mental health of individuals. This culture is often accompanied by a “win-at-all-costs” mentality that leads to extreme dieting in order to achieve the perfect “bikini body,” over-exercising, and a refusal to acknowledge when someone needs help.

The transgender, non-binary, intersex (TGNBI) community is particularly vulnerable to the dangers of toxic fitness culture and the endless chase of a fit body. Despite the fact that the fitness industry is slowly becoming more inclusive, many trans* individuals still find themselves excluded or treated differently. In many cases, they are subjected to bullying, degrading comments, and even physical violence.

It can be especially difficult for TGNBI folx to find a place of acceptance in the fitness world, as they may feel as if they don’t fit in or don’t measure up to the standards of those around them. As a result, many feel unable to participate in activities or seek out a fitness community that they feel they can trust.

The Challenges Trans* Folx Face in the Gym Go Beyond Reps

The idea that someone has to look or perform a certain way in order to be healthy is not only misguided but also detrimental to one’s mental health. This type of thinking creates an environment where being less than “perfect” is unacceptable. Moreover, it perpetuates feelings of worthlessness among those who are unable to achieve these impossible standards and body ideals, resulting in lower self-esteem and overall dissatisfaction with their lives.

Trans* individuals are often even more vulnerable to the negative messages that can be so pervasive in the fitness industry. Discrimination, harassment, and exclusion are all too common in gyms and fitness centers, which can be discouraging and even dangerous for transgender, non-binary, and intersex individuals. Trans* individuals may be subjected to verbal abuse, physical violence, or exclusion from fitness spaces. They may be misgendered, called derogatory names, or ridiculed for their appearance or gender identity. These experiences can be incredibly traumatic and can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Another challenge that trans* individuals face in fitness spaces is the lack of gender-neutral facilities

fitness

Inclusive Fitness Is a Multifaceted Approach

Creating a more inclusive fitness culture requires eliminating these damaging stigmas and making sure everyone has equal opportunities to train. It means celebrating all levels of achievement, whether someone is striving for professional success or just trying to stay healthy and fit. Fitness communities should aim to inspire members by highlighting what they’re capable of achieving with dedication and hard work instead of contrasting it against others’ accomplishments.

Fitness should be about positivity and community while acknowledging that we are all different, yet we all want the same thing: to love ourselves just as we are. Transgender, non-binary, and intersex folx need to have a space where they can nurture their sense of self-worth and improve their physical and mental health. Why can’t it be their local health club or fitness center?

Strategies for Creating an Inclusive Fitness Environment

Creating a more inclusive fitness culture for the trans* community, and other LGBTQ+ minorities is an important step in fostering a safe and welcoming environment for all. While there are no hard and fast rules on how to create this kind of culture, there are a few key steps that can help create a more inclusive space.

Put an end to the culture of healthism.

Healthism is “an ideology that promotes the idea that good health is directly correlated with certain behaviors, attitudes, and practices.” It has become a popular term to describe the pressure that people feel to be healthy – and often, it is those who are most marginalized in society who face this pressure the most. Understand that exercising is a personal choice, and everyone can choose their movement practice according to their own limitations. And, no, they shouldn’t try harder to overcome their limits, and they shouldn’t focus all their energy on getting to be “the best version of themselves.” Sometimes, the best version of ourselves is just admitting we have limits. Promote a culture of “enjoying movement” regardless of size, gender, and health status.

Do not try to fix people.

People are not objects. Thus, people can’t be broken. Fitness should not be considered a way of fixing broken bodies. Fitness should create an inclusive environment where everyone can find joy in movement. Exercise should not be considered a healthy alternative to medication. It shouldn’t come with the pressure of getting better. It should come with the joy of being free to move and, most importantly, being human. Transgender, non-binary, and intersex individuals would benefit greatly from this culture of being allowed to be exactly who they are while learning to move safely and securely in their own body.

trans

Understand the layers of oppression.

Unless you are part of the trans* community, it’s hard to understand the layers of oppression this community has to endure. Even when going to fitness gyms! From the risk of simply using a locker room or going to the bathroom to being denied the opportunity to compete in the division of the gender with which they identify, trans* individuals have to constantly be ready to face discrimination, emotional distress, and unfair treatment. Educate yourself and discuss the issues with your fitness professionals and facility staff. Avoid using binary language such as “ladies” or “gentlemen,” which suggests there are only two genders available, as this can be alienating for many. Instead, opt for gender-neutral terms such as “everyone” or “folx” whenever possible. You must allow trans* folx to have the same rights as everyone else at your gym and pave the way for gender-expansive fitness trainers, coaches, and athletes.

Make gender-neutral spaces.

Gender-neutral spaces are no longer a novelty; they are becoming increasingly popular in the fitness industry and available in more and more health centers. As people strive to create more inclusive fitness cultures and embrace body diversity, gender-neutral spaces have become an essential part of that process. This can include making sure that there are gender-neutral restrooms, locker rooms, and changing areas. Gender-neutral spaces can be created in any gym by removing any gendered language from signage or making sure the facility has gender-neutral bathrooms. Additionally, creating a space where all individuals feel comfortable participating without fear of judgment or discrimination is key when creating a safe and nurturing environment for all members.

gender-neutral spaces

Respect everyone’s gender identity

Everyone should be given the freedom to express their own gender identity without fear of discrimination or ridicule. Respect for different genders helps foster a community where individuals feel welcomed, accepted, and appreciated for who they are. This means using the pronouns and name that an individual identifies with and not making assumptions about someone’s gender identity. Additionally, it is important to be aware of the language used when interacting with trans* folx.

Accept that you don’t know better.

We all know our bodies better than anyone else, and no one can ever tell us what our bodies can and cannot do. There is no way one can understand someone else’s lived experience, and this is not up for debate. You can read a thousand books and collect hundreds of degrees, but you will never know someone’s body better than they know it. It’s just common sense. Do not invalidate people’s experiences

Promote a culture of self-care.

Competition should not be the final goal when training. It shouldn’t chew up a person’s self-worth and convince them they have no value unless they meet set expectations. Going to the gym should be about finding a spirit of community in group settings and bodily autonomy and not about harmful norms. Rest should be part of the fitness culture and promoted not as a reward after hard work but as an essential part of self-care. People should be able to listen to their body cues and not feel guilty about pausing or deciding to rest instead of trying to “overcome their limits” and “reach their potential.” Fitness centers should be about promoting a long-term relationship with body movement and not a dreadful must-do on our way to becoming stronger and better.

self-care

Practice active listening while respecting privacy.

No one expects you to know everything about every minority or community out there. But you can learn to be curious and actively listen to feedback. Take the time to talk to the trans* folx who train in your fitness center and allow them to share their experience with you. It’s important to also respect people’s rights to privacy as well. Do not force trans* folx to educate you. Communication is vital for removing barriers and creating an inclusive fitness culture.

Provide resources.

Finally, creating an inclusive fitness environment for transgender, non-binary, and intersex folx requires providing resources and support. Consider offering a list of local organizations and resources for the trans* community, such as mental health professionals, medical professionals, and support groups. Additionally, providing a safe space where gender-diverse individuals can discuss their experiences in the gym environment can be beneficial.

Final Thoughts

Transgender, non-binary, and intersex folx often feel a sense of alienation in the fitness world. This can include everything from verbal harassment to being denied access to certain facilities. Too often, trans* individuals feel like they have to hide their identity or risk being ostracized. Many report feeling unsafe in gyms or fitness centers and may choose to avoid them altogether.

By promoting an inclusive atmosphere and having a zero-tolerance policy on discrimination and harassment, providing resources and support to the trans* community, and having an open dialogue about current concerns and stressors the trans* community is experiencing, you create a culture of respect and acceptance in the fitness setting and recognize and celebrate the lived experience of trans folx.

 

Anxiety can impact a relationship in more than one way. People who experience anxiety disorders often tend to have a challenging time self-regulating, and they’re prone to other maladaptive behaviors like over-analyzing, always coming up with worst-case scenarios, constantly expecting rejection, and seeking out constant reassurance. At times, this may be tiring for an intimate partner.

People with anxiety may experience diminished relationship quality more frequently than their peers. All healthy relationships always require a lot of work. If you have a partner with anxiety, here are the essentials you need to understand about it and the manner in which it can impact your intimate connection.

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Understanding Anxiety: Signs to Watch Out for in a Relationship

Here are some of the most common signs an anxious partner may exhibit:

  • Constantly doubting a partner’s feelings and needing reassurance
  • Constantly worrying that a significant other will want to break up (which can lead to poor boundary setting and neglecting one’s needs in a relationship)
  • Sabotaging the relationship, whether intentionally or subconsciously
  • Waiting for something to go wrong and expressing negative thoughts all the time
  • Frequently doubting compatibility
  • Over-analyzing an intimate partner’s words and actions
  • Being too clingy
  • Exhibiting controlling behavior (checking a partner’s texts or emails, calling them frequently, prohibiting them from meeting certain people, etc.)
  • Having anxiety over certain aspects of the relationship like sex or emotional intimacy, for example

On their own, a few of those anxiety symptoms aren’t necessarily indicative of a mental health issue. When such behaviors and thoughts, however, start interfering with the quality of the relationship, one can take into consideration the possibility of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety symptoms usually affect multiple aspects of someone’s life.

Anxious man having trouble getting intimate with his partner

Anxiety: Important Things You Need to Understand

Here are some of the key facts therapists and other mental health professionals want you to know about common anxiety disorders and how different forms of anxiety impact behaviors:

  • Anxiety is not a made-up problem: unfortunately, society misunderstands generalized anxiety disorder, and many people with anxiety disorders are told to simply get over it. Anxiety disorders aren’t something that those who experience it make up to seek sympathy or attention. They can be debilitating, preventing individuals from enjoying life or engaging in satisfying intimate relationships.
  • Panic attacks can happen with some types of anxiety disorders. People with anxiety can also experience terrible physical symptoms like tiredness, shortness of breath, dry mouth, dizziness, headaches, and others.
  • People who have anxiety may benefit from therapy and professional assistance in order to address it. Couples therapy can also deliver effective results.
  • Symptoms of anxiety can occur in waves.

The Don’ts of Dealing with Anxiety Issues in a Relationship

Before moving on to the best practices and techniques, we need to talk about certain things you want to avoid to reduce the effects of anxiety on your relationship.

Don’t Play the Blame Game

Managing to separate anxious behaviors from your partner is going to be a difficult task. Still, they didn’t choose to suffer from an anxiety disorder. Blaming them for negative occurrences in the relationship isn’t going to fix the situation. Instead, try to discuss the anxiety episode that has caused problems and work together on addressing them.

Don’t Ignore the Importance of Boundaries

Setting and enforcing boundaries when anxiety is a part of the equation can be challenging. Still, boundaries are important to keep toxicity out of your interactions with an intimate partner. Anxiety should never be used as an excuse for unfair behavior. If this happens, you’ll find it much more difficult to build trust and resolve issues down the line.

Don’t Assume All Relationship Problems Are Caused by Anxiety

Some issues in your relationship may be caused by the lack of compatibility, previous relationship issues, or communication problems. You will need to understand these elements to address problems accordingly and grow stronger together.

man with anxiety having communication problems with his partner

The Dos of Being a Supportive Partner to Someone with Anxiety

Below is a list of some ideas that may be of benefit when dating someone who experiencing anxiety.

Understand What Triggers Your Partner

Anxiety attacks can be triggered by different things for different people. In time, you’ll know what sets your partner off. Understanding these triggers can help you diffuse situations effortlessly by simply avoiding problematic behaviors, interactions, or situations. Caffeine, for example, is a common anxiety trigger. The same applies to the lack of enough sleep or frequently facing stressful situations.

Be an Active Listener

Listening and hearing are two different things. In order to help someone successfully manage this mental health condition, you’ll need to work extra hard on putting yourself in their shoes. Practice active listening, be patient, and let them express their feelings and worries without being judged.

Consider Couples Therapy Together

Mental health professionals can help you understand aspects of anxiety and your partner’s behavior that can be difficult to fathom otherwise. Furthermore, you’ll get the tools and resources required to actively work together to increase the security in your relationship.

Take Good Care of Yourself

You may start neglecting your own feelings and needs. Self-care is very important for a balanced, healthy, and happy relationship. If your needs aren’t being met, you will find it much more difficult to be in a healthy committed relationship.

couple looking into each other's eyes during their vacation in the mountains

Final Thoughts

Remember, everyone experiences anxiety differently, and it’s important to communicate and understand each other’s needs in the relationship. With patience, empathy, and open communication, dating someone with anxiety can be a fulfilling and loving experience.

Remember to educate yourself about anxiety, offer support and encouragement, and avoid dismissiveness, criticism, and avoidance. Your partner needs your support and understanding, and with the right approach, you can help them work through their anxiety and build a strong and loving relationship.

Narcissistic parenting is a form of parenting where the parent puts their own needs and desires above those of their child. Narcissistic parents tend to be highly controlling, overly critical, and demanding. They may also be emotionally distant, manipulative, and/or neglectful of their children’s needs.

When a child is raised by a narcissistic parent, they may develop a distorted sense of self-identity. This is because they are constantly receiving messages from their parent that they are not good enough or not worthy of love and approval. The child may become desperate for approval and may turn to extreme measures to seek it.

The child may also become highly sensitive, have trouble regulating, and be easily hurt. They may become prone to anger and frustration and have trouble forming relationships and difficulty trusting others.

How to recognize the signs? How does narcissistic parenting impact one’s mental health? How to deal with the aftermath?

Signs that one has been raised by a narcissistic parent

Many parents have high expectations from their children. However, it doesn’t have to mean that they are narcissistic.

Chronic narcissistic parenting shows clear signs of denying the child’s independence, even later in life when they are an adult. The parent(s) are often not aware of the impact their behavior has on their children.

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Imposing their own wishes

Narcissistic parents reflect their wishes and dreams on their children, repressing their individuality and affecting their sense of self-worth. The parent may force the child to engage in activities they don’t like and pursue dreams they do not believe in.

Suffocating their child’s own personality, desires, and dreams, a narcissistic family will induce feelings of shame and interfere with the child’s authenticity. Narcissistic parent abuse is often correlated with the child adopting a people-pleasing behavior.

Marginalization

Paradoxically, even though parental narcissism often leads to pushing the child to accomplish spectacular results, a narcissistic parent feels threatened by their child’s achievements. Consequently, they will try to bring them down to regain the feeling of superiority. The parent does this through criticism, exaggerated comparisons, and not validating the child’s achievements.

Manipulation

A narcissistic parent uses manipulation, imposing a feeling of guilt. They blame the child for things that originate from their own behavior. Furthermore, they make the child feel unworthy of love and affection for not putting their own needs first.

Jealousy

A self-centered parent feels jealous when the child becomes independent. They expect to influence the child forever, and any sign of independence results in envy. The behavior can go to extremes, and they might even feel the adult child’s romantic partner is a competition.

Jealousy

Attention seeker

The narcissistic parent often displays a superior attitude and brags about their “success,” looking to always be the center of attention. Social media is often an outlet for narcissistic personas, feeding their inflated sense of their own importance and allowing them to overshare their accomplishments, looks, or material possessions.

What happens when you grow up with narcissistic parents

Being raised by a narcissistic parent can lead to different mental health conditions. As a response to trauma, abused children develop certain characteristics and behaviors that gravitate around a common theme: low self-esteem. Furthermore, children of narcissists often struggle with toxic shame, anxiety, and depression.

Low self-esteem

For a self-obsessed parent, children will never meet their high expectations. Due to constant criticism, the child feels incapable and unworthy of love. These feelings affect the person on a subconscious level, resulting in low self-esteem and types of behaviors that can impact their relationships with other adults and even their own children.

Needing validation

Children of narcissists learn they aren’t good enough and eventually can adopt an attention-seeking behavior in their adult life. A self-obsessed parent expresses their needs for achievement and praise through the child, resulting in a strong need for validation and approval from others.

Narcissistic Parent

Feeling indecisive

The years of living with a narcissistic parent have a toll on one’s mental health, which manifests in different ways. One of the common effects is the feeling of indecisiveness. After years of narcissistic abuse, they still feel they would hurt someone if they choose the right thing for them.

Chronic shame

People with narcissistic traits can’t stand the feeling of weakness. As a response, they will shame their children to achieve their much-needed feeling of superiority and feed their exaggerated sense of self-importance.

Tendency to pick partners that exhibit narcissistic traits

Children exposed to abusive behavior tend to dive into relationships that compromise their sense of self-worth. They are more likely to choose a partner with narcissistic behavior in future relationships to continue the pattern they have been taught in their childhood. Of course, everything happens on a subconscious level due to the trauma that is now deeply rooted in their belief system and, simply put, in their way of life. A healthy relationship with healthy boundaries is a difficult task for someone who doesn’t feel validated.

Anxiety and depression

Anxiety and depression are often the results of children raised by narcissistic parents. The high standards imposed by self-obsessed parents put extreme pressure on children to perform well. Whenever these unrealistic goals aren’t met, the child feels less than perfect and worthless. Anxiety and depression often follow.

Anxiety

People-pleasing

After a childhood spent trying to please their hot-headed parent, the child can develop people-pleasing behavior. This type of behavior is often found in children whose needs have been neglected. A narcissistic parent makes the child feel guilty when they try to achieve their own goals and stray from the path planned ahead. And no child wants to be the cause of an unhappy parent. Thus, the child understands they need to cater to others’ needs to be worthy. Therefore, they can become overly accommodating to others.

How can one deal with the aftermath of being raised by a narcissistic parent?

The healing process for individuals raised by narcissistic parents is difficult. However, everything starts with recognizing narcissism.

For a narcissist, their needs are a priority. Therefore, they will put them ahead of having a functional family unit.

After years of emotional abuse, it is challenging for individuals to understand they aren’t responsible for their parent’s behavior. But this is the first step to developing self-supporting/coping behavior.

Boundaries

When the individual understands they aren’t responsible for their parent’s abusive behavior, they can start to set boundaries. No one is obligated to endure unpleasant behavior and emotional abuse.

Therefore, setting healthy boundaries is key if you want to escape the chains of low self-esteem. Remember that it is in the narcissist’s nature to go beyond the set boundaries, so you need to learn to be firm and clear about the consequences.

Get support

Parental narcissism is a sensitive subject, and many aren’t familiar with it. Therefore, seeking help and support from your close friends might not work.

get support

Instead, you can always try to find support groups and connect with people that have experienced what you have experienced. They know what you’ve been through and will understand the struggles you are dealing with now as an adult.

It’s a lot easier to form a connection with someone who’s been through what you’ve been than to try and make people understand your inner struggles if they come from a different emotional background than yours.

Boost self-confidence

A narcissistic parent brings their child down to feel superior. Therefore, low self-confidence is an unavoidable result for children brought up by this type of parental influence.

Individuals who want to heal need to work on improving their self-confidence. They can participate in various activities that enhance their skills and capabilities and create a self-care plan. Adults who were once children of narcissistic parents need to learn to love themselves for who they are and understand that their wishes and needs are valid and should be fulfilled and respected.

Working with a therapist

Recovering from emotional abuse is a lengthy and challenging journey, so seeking professional help might be helpful. Working with an experienced therapist can give them access to tools that will help them move through the healing process.

There is no way to estimate how long you’ll be in therapy for, but sessions will be focused on understanding the root causes, enhanced self-compassion while providing clients with the necessary coping skills to health with the trauma caused by their parent(s).

The AIDS pandemic has had a devastating effect on humanity, both physically and psychologically. It has killed more people than any other disease in history, and it is still killing people today.

AIDS is a deadly, preventable disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV attacks the human immune system, making the person vulnerable to other infections and illnesses. There is no cure for AIDS or HIV, but there are treatments available that allow people who adhere to medication to live a normal life by managing their chronic condition.

When AIDS first surfaced in the early 1980s, it was a mystery illness, and no studies could find common ground on what caused it. No one knew how it spread or how to treat it. However, it quickly became clear that AIDS was a devastating disease and took a toll on society.

According to the World Health Organization, since the beginning of the epidemic, 84.2 million people have been infected with the HIV virus, and about 40.1 million people have died of AIDS-related illnesses. Globally, 38.4 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2021.

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AIDS does not discriminate

The AIDS crisis has had a profound impact on humanity since its emergence. From the outset, HIV/AIDS has resulted in the physical and emotional devastation of those directly affected by it, as well as their families, friends, communities, and beyond.

AIDS has affected and continues to affect everyone in some way. AIDS does not discriminate, affecting people of all ages and races. Nor is AIDS a disease that is limited to any one region of the world. In fact, AIDS is now present in 26 countries in Africa and the Caribbean.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), AIDS is the leading cause of death in people aged 15-49 and the second leading cause of death in all age groups. This epidemic is now affecting men, women, and young people of all races in all parts of the world. It has affected gay, bisexual, and transgender people disproportionately and even affected people who were not sexually active.

red ribbon representing world aids day

The World Health Organization (WHO) formally recognized December 1st as World AIDS Day in 1987 in response to the AIDS pandemic that was then rapidly spreading. At the time, there were only a handful of cases worldwide, and no vaccine or treatment programs for AIDS were available.

However, thanks to aggressive public health efforts, communities of people that demanded awareness, and the development of effective treatments and vaccines, the number of people living with AIDS has decreased by more than 50 percent since 1990, and reduced mortality from HIV is a continuous trend.

These achievements happened mostly thanks to the people who marched all throughout the United States demanding better care when President Reagan refused to speak or acknowledge the crisis for many years.

Why World AIDS Day matters as much today as it did in the 90s

In 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that AIDS was no longer a global emergency, and World AIDS Day was changed to December 1st as the official global day of remembrance. This change was made to emphasize that the fight against AIDS is now a global effort and that we must all continue to work together to achieve the ultimate goal of ending the pandemic.

Today, World AIDS Day is an important day to reflect on the progress that has been made in the fight against AIDS. However, there is still much work to be done. We must continue to work together to support research and development into new treatments and vaccines and to raise awareness about HIV’s ongoing transmission and the importance of the fight against it.

person drawing blood

World AIDS Day is an opportunity to renew our commitment to fight AIDS and make sure no person is left behind. We must work together to find new ways to prevent the disease and support people living with AIDS as they strive for a better life. We must fight against the stigma and shame that impact those who are HIV-positive.

Fortunately, there are thousands, if not millions, of community health workers willing to carry on the fight against the deadly enemy, raise awareness, and provide help and support to those who have fallen victim to the disease.

There are also people happy to acknowledge their effort and organize events and awards such as the Paul Andrew Starke Warrior Awards. This year, on December 1st, the 22nd Annual Paul Andrew Starke Warrior Awards took place in the Aquatics and Recreation Center, San Vicente and La Cienega rooms, West Hollywood Park, and among the winners, there was also a dear friend of mine, Francis Ocon, RN and Medical Case Manager at Men’s Health Foundation. I previously worked at Men’s Health Foundation with Francis Ocon RN, Medical Case Manager, and David Hoxsey, LCSW, Patient Care Manager.

These awards are presented to staff and volunteers of local organizations and health care facilities who provide outstanding HIV/AIDS prevention and care services, and Francis Ocon has changed the lives of many patients living with HIV. His work at the Men’s Health Foundation provides medical education and tools to assist with medication adherence, ensures expert care for people living with HIV and continued communication with medical providers, and provides STI/HIV treatments.

These are just a few things Francis provides at MHF.  His work and the work of the people providing support, like David Hoxsey, through the foundation have made a difference for many HIV-infected persons and allowed them to live longer and happier lives.

The purpose of HIV support groups

World AIDS Day is a reminder of the importance of promoting HIV prevention, awareness, and treatment, fighting stigma and discrimination, and supporting people in their fight against HIV.

In response to this devastating pandemic, support groups have become a cornerstone for those living with HIV/AIDS. These safe spaces provide emotional relief from the stigma, isolation, and loneliness that can come from having this life-altering diagnosis. They also provide education about treatments, therapies, and preventative care that help people manage their diagnosis while leading healthy lives.

support group holding hands

People living with HIV need a unique and comprehensive level of care. Support groups provide a valuable resource for those managing the physical, mental, and emotional toll of this life-changing diagnosis.

An HIV support group typically consists of people living with HIV/AIDS as well as family members, friends, healthcare professionals, educators, researchers, and counselors. Participants have the opportunity to share stories about living with the virus in a non-judgmental atmosphere where everyone is accepted for who they are.

There is no one right way to organize an HIV support group, just as there is no one right way to approach joining a support group. What matters most is that the group is comfortable for everyone who attends.

If you are unsure whether or not a group is a right fit for you, consider speaking with a health care provider, licensed therapist, or HIV specialist. They can help you explore your options and find the right group for you.

Benefits of joining an HIV support group

Many individuals living with HIV feel isolated and alone, making it hard to handle their diagnosis. Joining an HIV support group provides an invaluable way for those living with HIV to find connection and understanding. Here are some of the benefits and key health outcomes of joining a group:

Supportive environment.

HIV/AIDS support groups are an important way to find community and strength through shared experiences. They provide a platform for individuals who have been diagnosed with the virus to talk about their struggles, share advice, and receive emotional encouragement from others in similar circumstances. Participants often find comfort in being surrounded by people who understand their feelings without judgment or fear of stigma.

Shared knowledge.

As members of a group, you can learn from each other and gain insights that you may not have been able to obtain on your own. This can help you better understand and cope with HIV-related challenges. Members benefit from peer-to-peer advice on lifestyle changes that may help reduce symptoms or improve overall health. This can include diet modifications, exercise habits, or stress management techniques. Not only do these groups offer emotional support, but they also provide practical advice on managing day-to-day life with HIV/AIDS. HIV support groups can be a great source of information about treatment options, medical care providers, insurance coverage options, legal services, or other assistance programs available in the community.

HIV support group

Opportunities for self-reflection and growth.

HIV support groups offer individuals a space to reflect on their experiences with HIV and learn from others who have faced the same challenges. Through discussing common experiences and challenges, members can develop skills that will help them navigate their HIV journey successfully. By sharing their experiences and feelings with others, they can learn about their strengths and weaknesses and begin to develop new coping mechanisms.

Sharing resources.

People in these support groups can provide much-needed resources for individuals who may feel overwhelmed by their diagnosis or lack access to necessary health care services. Members have access to other members and group leaders who can provide information or insight about treatments or medications available for the virus, as well as resources such as legal aid or housing assistance programs if needed.

Having a network of other people going through similar experiences not only provides emotional support but also helps those affected by HIV gain access to accurate information about the virus and how it affects their body, learn tips on managing medication, receive assistance when facing stigma or discrimination due to their diagnosis, and make connections with organizations providing services like housing or financial assistance.

Finding an HIV support group near you

The support of a community that understands the challenges associated with this diagnosis can be invaluable in helping individuals to feel less alone and more optimistic about their future. Enlisting the help of a local group can provide access to resources, guidance, and understanding that can greatly improve the quality of life for those living with HIV.

HIV support groups are led by professionals who understand the unique issues that accompany an HIV diagnosis. Members will have access to important information on treatments, medications, diet, exercise, and mental health strategies which can help them better manage their condition. Additionally, they will also have opportunities to develop meaningful connections with peers who share similar experiences while learning from one another’s stories.

If you’re interested in finding a support group in your area, there are several online resources available. The AIDS Foundation of America has a search tool available online that can help you find a support group in your area. You can also contact your local AIDS organization to see if they know of any local support groups.

AIDS and HIV

HIV/AIDS support groups in Los Angeles

HIV AIDS support groups are an important resource for people living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles. Not only do these groups provide emotional and psychological support for individuals, but they also help to reduce the stigma around HIV/AIDS in the community.

The Los Angeles area is home to a variety of HIV/AIDS support groups that offer a variety of services, from counseling and educational programs to medical assistance and advocacy resources. Here are some of the most popular groups in the city:

Many of these support groups also offer guest speakers, such as doctors and other healthcare professionals, who share information about advances in treatment options or ways of managing side effects.

People living with HIV have unique and important needs that should not be overlooked. Support groups provide a valuable resource for those managing the physical, mental, and emotional toll of an HIV diagnosis.

Weho Event

A good night’s sleep is essential for our physical and mental health. Whether it’s chronic anxiety or acute anxiety, the effects of anxiety on our sleep can be profound. In fact, anxiety is one of the most common reasons why people have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.

There are a number of ways in which anxiety can impact our sleep. For one, anxiety can lead to racing thoughts and an inability to quiet our minds at night. This can make it very difficult to fall asleep. Additionally, anxiety can cause us to wake up frequently during the night or to have difficulty staying asleep.

Not getting enough quality sleep can have a major impact on our overall health and well-being. When we don’t get enough sleep, we’re more likely to suffer from physical health problems, mental health problems, and impaired cognitive function. Additionally, lack of sleep can affect our mood, energy levels, and ability to concentrate.

How much sleep do people actually need?

This is a question that has been debated for centuries. Some people believe that we need eight hours of sleep a day, while others believe that we only need six. There are a variety of factors that can influence how much sleep a person needs, including age, health, and lifestyle.

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The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. However, some people may need more or less than that. For example, if you are a shift worker or have jet lag, you may need more sleep.

There are also a few factors that can affect how much sleep you need. These include:

• Age: infants and young children need more sleep than adults, while older adults tend to need less sleep.

• Gender: cis women tend to need more sleep than cis men.

• Pregnancy: those who are pregnant need more sleep than non-pregnant

• Sleep disorders: people with sleep disorders like insomnia or sleep apnea often need more sleep.

How can sleep deprivation impact your health

Sleep deprivation is a growing epidemic in our society. According to the National Sleep Foundation, one in three adults report they usually get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night. The impact of sleep loss can create negative consequences on both our physical and mental health.

tired woman who can't fall asleep

Physical consequences of sleep deprivation can include:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Increased risk of obesity
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Increased risk of diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Unbalanced hormone levels
  • Increased risk of accidents

Mentally, sleep deprivation can lead to:

  • Increased risk of anxiety
  • Increased risk of depression
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood swings
  • Nocturnal panic attacks
  • Memory problems
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia

How can anxiety impact our sleep

It’s no secret that anxiety and sleep are often intertwined. For many people, anxiety can cause difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Conversely, a lack of sleep can intensify anxiety. It can be a vicious cycle.

Anxiety is a normal emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. It’s a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something that’s going to happen. Anxiety takes different shapes, such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. While each type of anxiety has its own specific symptoms, most people with anxiety disorders struggle with sleep issues at some point in their lives.

Anxiety and sleep are both regulated by the nervous system. When we’re anxious, we struggle with negative thinking and overwhelming worries, and our bodies are in a state of “fight or flight.” This means that our bodies are preparing to either fight or run away from whatever is causing the anxiety. This increased state of arousal can make it difficult to fall asleep. Once you’re asleep, anxiety can cause you to wake up frequently during the night or early in the morning. This can lead to a feeling of being unrested and can make it difficult to function during the day.

woman with anxiety

Anxiety symptoms can take a toll on our body, leading to a racing heart, sweating, tense muscles, and difficulty breathing. All of these physical symptoms can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. And even if we do manage to fall asleep, we may not get the restful sleep we need. This is because anxiety at night can cause us to wake up frequently.

Anxiety can have a profound effect on our sleep patterns. It can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. It can also lead to early morning waking and difficulty returning to sleep. Anxiety can cause insomnia, which is defined as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or non-restorative sleep, which is when you wake up feeling tired and unrefreshed.

The importance of a bedtime routine

One of the best ways to reduce anxiety and improve sleep health is to have a set bedtime routine. A bedtime routine allows for healthy sleep habits to become part of our life and reduces our stress levels. That’s because when you have a routine, your body knows what to expect. And when your body knows what to expect, it’s easier to relax.

The best way to establish a bedtime routine is to start small. Begin by picking a bedtime that you can stick to consistently. Once you have a bedtime, start to add in other activities that will help you wind down before sleep. This might include reading, taking a bath, or writing in a journal.

Don’t try to do too much at first. If you’re finding it difficult to stick to a routine, try removing some of the activities or cut back on the amount of time you spend on each activity. The important thing is to find a routine that works for you and that you can stick to.

You should make sure you’re winding down for at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. This means no more working, no more staring at screens, and no more stressful activities. Instead, try to do something calming, like reading or listening to relaxing music. You might also want to try some gentle stretching or yoga. The goal is to get your body and mind ready for sleep.

Once you’re ready to actually go to bed, make sure that your bedroom is dark and quiet. This will help your body relax and prepare for sleep. Next, take some deep breaths and focus on your breath. Breathe in slowly through your nose and then out slowly through your mouth. Repeat this for a few minutes.

Finally, once you’re in bed, try to focus on something positive. This could be a happy memory, a goal you’re working towards, or something else that makes you feel good. Focusing on something positive will help your mind relax and will eventually lead to falling asleep.

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Tips for better sleep

If you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep, you’re not alone. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 50 to 70 million adults in the United States have a sleep disorder. Lack of sleep can lead to various health problems.

There are several factors that can contribute to poor sleep, including stress, anxiety, caffeine, electronic screens, and uncomfortable bedding. But there are also a number of simple changes you can make to help improve the quality of your sleep. Here are a few tips to help you practice good sleep hygiene:

Create a soothing bedtime routine: As we’ve mentioned before, a bedtime routine can do wonders for your sleep and help limit the effects of sleep deprivation. Try taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, or stretching for a few minutes before you turn in.

Establish a regular sleep schedule: Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day can help regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and avoid sleepless nights. Yes, you should stick to the schedule even on weekends. This will help your body get into a rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Create a comfortable sleep environment: Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. Consider investing in a comfortable mattress and pillows. Create an environment that is conducive to sleep. Use blackout curtains or an eye mask to block out light and earplugs or a white noise machine to block out sound. Keep the temperature in your bedroom cool, around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Limit screen time before bed: The blue light emitted by electronic screens can interfere with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and increase your anxiety levels. Try to avoid using electronic devices for at least an hour before you go to bed.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed: Avoid caffeine (including coffee, tea, and soda) and alcohol in the evening. Caffeine can stay in your system for six hours, so it’s best to avoid it after lunch. Alcohol may make you feel sleepy at first, but it can cause sleep disturbance later in the night.

Get up and move during the day: Exercise during the day can help yousleep better at night. Just be sure to avoid working out too close to bedtime, as it can make it harder to fall asleep.

Limit naps: Naps can be helpful if you’re feeling tired during the day. But if you have trouble sleeping at night, it’s best to limit naps to 30 minutes or less.

exercise at home

Talk to a therapist to uncover the root cause of your sleep problems

These are just a few of the many things you can do to help improve your sleep. If you’re still having trouble sleeping, you should consider discussing treatment options with a therapist.

One of the most effective forms of therapy for people struggling with anxiety and disturbed sleep is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps people to change the way they think about and react to situations that trigger their anxiety. This type of psychotherapy can be used to help people with all types of anxiety disorders and sleep problems.

There are a number of potential underlying factors that can cause sleep loss and insomnia, and many of them are related to stressful events, anxiety, trauma, and other potential mental health issues. As always, when it comes to mental health conditions, it’s best to get to the root of the problem with the help of a licensed healthcare provider.

Humans have been designed to be social beings. This means that we need, want, and long for connections with others. Some may say it’s in our nature, while others will confirm our brain is wired this way.

But what happens when we feel disconnected? Or worse, what happens when we fear any connection and choose to keep our distance out of fear of being disappointed, rejected, or abandoned?

What happens when one of our most basic needs, the need to belong and connect, is not met? Can we learn how to form healthy attachments to other people?

What is an attachment style?

We all have different ways of relating to the people in our lives. Some of us need constant reassurance, while others may not. Our “attachment style” is the way we interact with and respond to the people we’re close to.

Attachment theory is the joint work of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. Attachment theory explains the dynamics of long-term relationships between humans. Specifically, it focuses on how positive emotions within a relationship can be maintained.

The central tenet of attachment theory is that infants come into the world biologically pre-programmed to form attachments with others because the need to be close to others is essential for human survival. According to attachment theory, this need is what motivates human beings to seek out and maintain close relationships.

Most of us have a dominant attachment style that we use most of the time. But we may also use other styles depending on the situation. For example, we may have more insecurities and need more reassurance in romantic relationships than with our friends.

Understanding your attachment style can help you to:

• Make sense of your past relationships

• Improve your current relationships

• Avoid repeating negative patterns in future relationships

• Understand why you react the way you do in certain situations without judgment

• Communicate more effectively with others

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What are the four main attachment styles?

In order to understand our own relationship patterns, it can be helpful to know about the different attachment styles. There are four main adult attachment styles: secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant. Each attachment style is characterized by different thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in relationships.

Secure attachment

Secure attachment is characterized by feelings of comfort and closeness with one’s partner. Individuals with a secure attachment style generally feel confident in their relationships and are able to express their emotions openly. Secure attachment gravitates around trust, emotional intimacy, and positive communication.

Secure attachment types are often described as being “in tune” with their partners. They are able to pick up on subtle cues and signals from their partners and respond accordingly. This type of communication often leads to a strong sense of understanding and closeness between partners involved in intimate relationships.

People with this style are able to be emotionally close to others and feel comfortable seeking support when needed. They’re also able to handle conflict and stressful situations in a healthy way. A study found that people with a secure attachment style reported higher levels of life satisfaction, self-esteem, and positive affect than those with other attachment styles. Having a secure attachment is associated with many positive outcomes and more stable mental health.

couple sitting on a bench

Anxious-preoccupied attachment

Anxious-preoccupied attachment is a type of attachment characterized by a strong desire for closeness with a partner, accompanied by feelings of anxiety and insecurity. Individuals with this attachment style tend to be preoccupied with their relationship and are often worried about their partner’s level of commitment and whether or not they will be abandoned. They may also appear “needy” and excessively dependent on their partner for support and reassurance.

People with anxious-preoccupied attachment often have difficulty trusting their partner and may constantly feel on edge. They may also experience jealousy and possessiveness and may constantly seek reassurance from their partner. Although they may be deeply in love with their partner, they may also find themselves feeling angry, hurt, and resentful.

Anxious-preoccupied attachment is thought to be formed in childhood when a child does not feel secure in their caregivers’ love and attention. This can be due to a number of factors, including unpredictable or absent caregivers or a history of childhood trauma or abuse.

According to a study by Miklowitz and colleagues, people with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style are more likely to experience depression and anxiety symptoms. The study found that 62% of the participants with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style met the criteria for a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, compared to only 26% of the participants with a secure attachment style.

Dismissive-avoidant attachment

Dismissive-avoidant attachment style is characterized by a lack of emotional closeness with others and a tendency to avoid intimacy. People with this attachment style often have difficulty trusting others and may feel like they are better off on their own.

People with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style often have a deep-seated fear of intimacy and close relationships. They may believe that they are better off alone. As a result, they may keep others at a distance, both physically and emotionally. They may also be unwilling to rely on others for support and may have difficulty trusting others.

upset couple

People who have this type of behavior in relationships appear to be more independent and self-sufficient than people with other attachment styles. However, this independence can also make it difficult for them to form close relationships, which, ultimately, people with this attachment type want as well, but they just find it hard to trust and get close to others.

Fearful-avoidant attachment

People with a fearful-avoidant attachment style, also known as disorganized attachment style, have a deep-rooted fear of intimacy and commitment. As a result, they often find themselves in unhealthy and unhappy relationships.

Fearful-avoidant individuals often have relationships marked by insecurity, mistrust, and anxiety. While they may long for closeness and intimacy, they’re unwilling to let anyone get too close due to their avoidant strategies. They may come across as cold, distant, or unemotional. But underneath their guarded exterior, they’re usually quite sensitive and vulnerable.

Why should you know your type of attachment style?

In order to have a healthy and successful adult relationship, it is important to know your attachment style. Attachment in adulthood is based on how you were treated as a child by your primary caregiver, and it will affect the way you relate to others as an adult.

If you had a caregiver who was supportive and responsive to your needs, you are more likely to have a secure attachment style. If you had a caregiver who was neglectful or unavailable, you are more likely to have an anxious or avoidant attachment behavior.

Knowing your attachment style can help you understand why you act the way you do in relationships and how you can improve your relationships.

If you know that you have an anxious attachment style, for example, you can work on ways to become more secure in your relationships. This may include learning how to trust others better and developing self-confidence.

If you know that you have an avoidant attachment style, you can work on becoming more comfortable with being close to others. This may include learning how to express your feelings and needs to others and establishing stronger connections with the people important to you.

two friends checking the phone

Which attachment style is best?

Our attachment history can influence our relationships in both positive and negative ways. What is important is that people are aware of their own attachment style and how it affects their relationships.

Some of us are more insecure in our attachments and may have a harder time trusting and confiding in others. We may be more prone to jealousy and anxiety and may find it difficult to let go of past hurts.

On the other hand, those of us with a more secure attachment style may find it easier to trust and be open with others. We may be better able to handle conflict and feel more comfortable with intimacy.

It’s important to remember that there is no one “right” way to attach to others. We all have different needs and preferences, and what works for one person may not work for another. If we’re not happy with the way our attachment style is impacting our life, we can always work on making changes to feel more secure in our relationships

Can we learn to have a secure attachment style?

While there is no right or wrong attachment style, research has shown that people with a secure attachment style are more likely to have healthier relationships, better mental and physical health, and overall greater life satisfaction. Furthermore, people with a secure attachment style are better able to cope with stress and adversity. They’re also more likely to be able to form close, meaningful relationships.

Secure attachment is when we feel confident in our ability to cope with life’s challenges and feel secure in our relationships. We trust that our needs will be met by our loved ones, and feel comfortable being emotionally and physically close to them.

two friends hugging

There are several factors that contribute to a secure attachment style, including having a stable home life and positive relationships with responsive caregivers. People who feel loved and supported by their family and friends are more likely to feel secure in their relationships.

Of course, just because our attachment style is influenced by our early experiences doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. In fact, research suggests that our attachment style is relatively flexible and that we can learn to feel more secure in our relationships. As expected, there is no quick fix, but there are things you can do to improve your relationships.

Build positive relationships with the people around you.

It’s no secret that the relationships we have with the people around us can have a profound impact on our lives. Whether it’s a romantic partner, a close friend, or even a coworker, our interactions with others can shape our moods, emotions, and behaviors in significant ways.

So, what’s the best way to build positive relationships with the people around you? Take an interest in the people around you and listen to their experiences. This may seem simple, but it is actually one of the most effective ways to build trust in your relationships.

Start by also sharing some things about yourself with loved ones. It’s okay to start small. You should also invest time in the little things like spending time with loved ones, going out for coffee, or taking a walk together.

Focus on improving your self-esteem.

We all know that feeling good about ourselves is important, but did you know that your self-esteem can actually impact your adult relationships? It’s true! According to research, people with a secure attachment style tend to have higher self-esteem, which leads to healthier relationships.

So, what does this mean for you? If you’re not happy with your current level of self-esteem, it’s time to focus on making some changes. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself.
  • Do things that make you feel competent and successful.
  • Be mindful of the way you talk to yourself – avoid negative self-talk at all costs!
  • Make an effort to look after yourself physically and emotionally.

When you feel good about yourself, it will be easier to form healthy relationships with others.

couple checking their tablet

Work on building trust.

Do you find it difficult to trust people? One of the main issues with insecure attachment is a lack of trust. If you want to learn to have a secure attachment style, work on building trust in your relationships. This means being honest, reliable, and supportive.

In order to build trust in a relationship, it is important to feel safe and secure with your partner. Learn to rely on them for support, and you will see they are there for you when you need them. It also means feeling comfortable communicating with them and sharing your thoughts and feelings.

Seek professional help.

If you are struggling with your attachment style, professional help can make a big difference. A therapist can help you understand your attachment style and how it is impacting your current relationships. They can also provide tools and strategies for improving your relationships. Be patient with yourself, and don’t expect perfection.

On November 20, 1998, Rita Hester, an African-American transgender woman, was murdered in her apartment in Boston. She was stabbed 20 times and was still breathing when the police found her. Tragically, she died the same day at the hospital. She was 34 years old.

While Rita Hester was not the first trans woman to fall victim to anti-trans violence, her incident compelled activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith to start the Remembering Our Dead web project. The event was dedicated to the murdered trans and gender-diverse people in the United States. It was organized as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita and all the trans people who have become victims of anti-transgender hatred.

In 1999, Smith organized the first Transgender Day of Remembrance, and more candlelight vigils and similar events followed the next years.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

More than 20 years have passed since the murder of Rita Hester and the first Transgender Day of Remembrance, and the event continues to count new murders of transgender community members. 23 years have gone by since Smith started the campaign to end anti-transgender violence and raise awareness regarding the urgent need to educate ourselves about gender-nonconforming people and trans inclusion. And, sadly, not enough has changed.

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In 2019, at least 22 transgender lives were taken in the United States. Most of the people murdered were young, black women. In 2020, 44 transgender and gender-diverse people fell prey to hate and violence in our country, and 350 were murdered worldwide. And, unfortunately, the tragedy only grows from here.

2021 was the year with the highest number of fatalities since the Human Rights Campaign started tracking these crimes in 2013. 57 transgender people fell prey to acts of violence in the United States alone, and 375 transgender people were killed worldwide, with most of the murders (70%) happening in Central and South America. Real people with real lives and real stories lost their life because of a lack of education, inclusivity, and tolerance.

These numbers do not account for the transgender people who have taken their own lives because of national indifference, a culture of intolerance, and hatred propagated by the ignorance and prejudice of a portion of the population.

2022 is not over yet, and the transgender community has already seen at least 29 of its members killed for daring to be true to their own selves. Unfortunately, it is possible the number is higher than reported because many stories about transgender people being murdered go unreported, misreported, or unnoticed. Globally, 2022 is likely to surpass 2021 as the most deadly year on record for the trans community, and a majority of those killed in 2021 were transgender women of color, with a high number of deaths happening in Brazil and the United States.

Why does the world need the Transgender Day of Remembrance?

Awareness is key to ending violence against transgender and gender-diverse people. Rita Hester’s murder was the catalyst to this movement but the many lives lost every year among transgender and gender non-conforming people due to brutal violence should determine the rest of us to do more, try more, fight more! Considering the increasing number of deaths and constant violation of the rights of transgender people, it is obvious we are not doing everything in our power to crush this epidemic of violence.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance is not only an opportunity for communities of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, as well as trans activists to remember and mourn the ones who lost their lives in the war against prejudice, intolerance, and hatred. It also is a firm reminder that trans people are sons, daughters, parents, and friends, people who have the same rights just like everyone else to love, live, and simply be. The event is an occasion to come together and find real solutions that promote transgender rights and encourage funding opportunities to sustain the cause and help transgender individuals be who they are while becoming the best version of themselves and finding their rightful place in our community.

Transgender Day of Remembrance raises awareness of hate crimes that are still happening against the trans community and encourages people to educate themselves, advocate for change, and embrace the world as it truly is: diverse and unique. The campaign addresses issues that plague the lives of trans and gender-diverse individuals and encourages the media to speak openly, boldly, and sincerely about the urgent need to change our mentalities and stop the hate, violence, and indifference that permits these murders to continue.

We need the Transgender Day of Remembrance to gather more allies against the campaign of hatred led by an uneducated majority determined to wipe out the existence of those who dare to be different. We need the Transgender Day of Remembrance to stand in vigil and remember those who have died because they choose to be free and live “differently”. We will continue to need the Transgender Day of Remembrance for as long as trans and gender-diverse people are martyrized on the altar of conformity and sacrificed to preserve an illusory sense of “normality”.

transgender symbol

What can you do to become involved in the Transgender Day of Remembrance?

Educate yourself and others about what being a transgender or gender-diverse person means and how you can help stop the stigma associated with their communities. You can advocate for trans-inclusive policies and practices in your workplace, school, town, or city. You can participate or organize a vigil in your neighborhood on November 20 to honor the lives of transgender people who have been murdered. Vigils are organized by local transgender advocates or LGBTQ organizations and usually take place in parks, community centers, or other venues. Use this annual observance day to raise awareness about trans rights and address issues that concern the community.

You can write stories, articles, or news pieces about victims of transphobic violence and anti-trans hatred and bring them to the attention of local and national media outlets. Telling their stories out loud raises awareness and gives a voice to those who are no longer able to use theirs. Amplify trans voices and take action to stop the abuse and ignorance.

You can offer transgender and gender-diverse people employment, medical care, tutoring, food resources, and any other type of help they need and is in your power to offer. You can be there for them and be an example in your community. You can lead people on the path of inclusion, acceptance, tolerance, and understanding.

Furthermore, you can donate to organizations that help trans people of color, sex workers, migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees, as many of them are victims of discrimination, abuse, persecution, and violence. And, of course, you can mobilize your friends and followers to stand with you and share news about the campaign and events in their communities using social media and the hashtag #TDoR2022.

 

Transgender person

Helpful resources to get involved

Disclaimer: The following is a list of possible resources throughout the United States. This list is provided solely as a resource and none of the following organizations are endorsed by Julia Schwab Therapy.

GLAAD has put together a great list of resources for anyone who’d like to get involved. Below are a few examples:

Organizations in Los Angeles that work with the Trans* population (not an exhaustive list)–

LA LGBT Center
Transwellness Center
Trans Latina Coalition
Bienestar
Children’s Hospital
Trans Lounge
Trans Can Work
UCLA Gender Health
Gender Justice Los Angeles
Trans Chorus of Los Angeles

Other Resources throughout the US

TRANScending Barriers Atlanta Transgender Nonprofit (Atlanta)
Brave Space Alliance (Chicago)
Ingersoll Gender Center (Seattle)
New York Transgender Advocacy Group (nytag.org) (New York)
Boston Area Trans Support (massbats.org) (Boston)
Transgender Education Network of Texas (transtexas.org) (Texas)
TransAL | MobPride (Alabama)
BreakOUT! – Fighting the criminalization of LGBTQ youth in New Orleans, LA / Luchando contra la criminalización de los jóvenes LGBTQ en Nueva Orleans, LA (youthbreakout.org) (Louisiana)
Transgender Resources | The City of Portland, Oregon (portlandoregon.gov) (Portland resources)
Transinclusive Group (Florida)
Charleston Area Trans Support (chasareatsupport.org) (South Carolina)
LGBT Center of Raleigh (North Carolina)
Welcome to OUTMemphis – OUTMemphis (Tennessee)
Resources · Transformations KC • Kansas City’s Transgender Youth Group (Kansas and Missouri)
TEA of Utah (Utah)
The Center – Western Montana’s LGBTQ+ Community Center – Missoula (gaymontana.org) (Montana)
Identity Alaska – advancing Alaska’s LGBT community (Alaska)
Resources – Transgender Assistance Program of Virginia (tapvirginia.org) (Virginia)
StoneWall Society GLBT Resources in West Virginia (West Virginia resources)
TRANSGENDER SUPPORT – OKEQ – Oklahoma’s resource for LGBT persons and their families (Oklahoma)
Welcome to the Transgender Equality Network – Transgender Equality Network (transequalitynetwork.org) (Arkansas)

Here you can find a list of events happening around West Hollywood during the month of November that the city has prepared to Commemorate Transgender Awareness Month and Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Events

Trans day of remembrace

 

Vigil

Trans Day Remembrance

 

Post Update: The article was updated on October 29th, 2022, originally published on November 18th, 2021. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.