Start 2019 Off Right

black calendar close up composition

Photo by Pixabay on

Start 2019 Off Right – New Years Resolutions

Happy New Year.

This year you’ve been through a lot and there have been enough ups and downs to say it was a good year – or a bad year depending on how you choose to look back on it.
However, you are still here when some aren’t.
You are still able to help yourself and others, smile, be kind to a stranger, eat better, learn, grow and you are still able to count your blessing.
You are also so blessed to be able to tell everyone that’s still in your life – Thank You. I appreciate you.

If you are inclined to make Resolutions for the New Year… here’s a secret.
In order to be able to achieve them with much more certainty, instead of listing what you want to have or to do – list WHY.

Example: I want to lose 15 pounds.

Better: I want to live longer.


  • Eat more produce
  • Move more
  • Count calories and nutrients
  • Find a sport/activity that is so fun it must be enjoyed.

What are your Resolutions?

Visit the below sites for a great deal of helpful information about a variety of subject.
Author: Sharon Valentino, MFT
Valentino Therapy – CA LMFT, RAS, ChT, CATC IV (#51746)
Visit my web:
Facebook: Valentino Therapy and Ask This Therapist
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist


Happy New Year!

happy new year decorative plate

Photo by on

Happy New Year! 
What do you want this year to be? It’s up to you!

12 new chapters, 365 new chances.
May the next few months be a period of beautiful transformation.
More happiness. More love. More laughter. More sleep. Less stress.
More plant-based eating. More moving. More joy.
If you don’t like where you are, move.
If you don’t like how you are living, change it.
You are not a tree!
When we find a cause of value we believe in, our lives take new meaning and a whole new happiness and contentment become our daily companions.
I’ve never yet met a truly unhappy person who was paying rent through a worthy cause for the space s/he took up on this earth.
What is your cause – what is your passion?
What is your plan for 2019 to make your life what you want it to be?

Visit the below sites for a great deal of helpful information about a variety of subject.
Author: Sharon Valentino, MFT
Valentino Therapy – CA LMFT, RAS, ChT, CATC IV (#51746)
Visit my web:
Facebook: Valentino Therapy and Ask This Therapist
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist

New Years Resolutions

man with fireworks

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on

There are 168 hours in a week.

40 At work or school
56 Sleeping
72 Leftover

And you really can’t find:
3 hours a week to exercise?
1 hour to make healthy foods and drink?
1/2 hour a week to focus on gratitude?
3 hours a week to go to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)?

Focus on what is important this new year.

Visit the below sites for a great deal of helpful information about a variety of subject.
Author: Sharon Valentino, MFT
Valentino Therapy – CA LMFT, RAS, ChT, CATC IV (#51746)
Visit my web:
Facebook: Valentino Therapy and Ask This Therapist
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist

My 30-Day Holiday Challenge to You

adult beverage breakfast celebration

Photo by Pixabay on

My 30-Day Holiday Challenge to You – Make this holiday season different.

Yes, it is everywhere – even before Thanksgiving – on television and social media, in stores, and magazines, on the internet, and all the outdoor decorations. We can’t escape it. The holidays are here! It seems that everyone else has a wonderful family time…..except you? But is that true?

Perhaps a minority of people are fortunate enough to have a lovely family time.
The majority have some good family times mixed with quite a lot of work, stress and financial burden. Family stresses can be greatly exaggerated and become intolerable over the holiday period when everyone is forced to spend time together, trying to keep things cheerful.

For others, it is a very lonely time.  A reminder that we are alone, out of contact with, or without family.
If we have friends, then they will probably be spending time with their families and have little spare time for us.
Everything seems to be closed on the day itself: shops, libraries, cafes, and all other meeting points or places where we might be in contact with others.
So, what can we do? How can we get through this time? Maybe even change things so that we can feel better about it?
If we change the way we think about it or change what we do – then we will change the way we feel.
If we carry on thinking and doing what we’ve always done, then nothing will change and we will have a miserable holiday time.

What about this? Right now is the time to think about it and address these holiday issues.
a.) How can I think differently?
b.) What can I do differently?
c.) How will I really feel if I think and act differently?

I’ve made a little “Holiday Calendar for Change and Self-Care”.
What if you select a change or specific self-care action each day and see if that doesn’t make a huge difference in your holiday season this year?
What have you got to lose?
I’ve given you a few ideas at the bottom and would love to hear yours which are probably even better.
Just fill out one each day or fill out 2 or 3 actions at a time to do over the next couple of days or fill out a week at a time of plans that are healthy for you. Start today or tomorrow. But start.


Better ideas?

– The best way out is always through. Robert Frost
– Do one push up. Then one more. Do wall push-ups every time coffee or tea is brewing.
– Drink 8 oz. of pure fresh water. Do it again later.
– Start paying toward one debt.
– Delete an old contact for your list.
– Contact one old friend you haven’t connected with in a while.
– Walk 1 lap.
– Donate to one animal shelter.
– Attend 1 holiday event.
– If you know you can do better, why not do so today?
  Remove 1 thing in your life that is hurting or not helping you.
– Speak up politely and say what you want – or don’t want. Set boundaries. Don’t back down.
  Your mental health is as important to you as your physical health.
– Stop touching your wound so it can heal.
– How people treat you decides their karma. How you respond decides yours.
– Stop checking on those who don’t check on you.
  Silence isn’t empty. It is full of answers.
– Your day is bad? There are folks out there wearing their ex’s name tattooed on them.
– Use the healers: music, the ocean, stars.
– People show how they feel about you. Pay attention.
– I hate to spoil the outcome…but you are going to be OK and work through this holiday.
  Meditate daily – 3 minutes is all it takes to be quiet breathe in fresh air, breathe out tension & negativity, correct your posture & put both feet down on the floor to center yourself, let thoughts go on by as they come up and continue to breathe, paying attention only to your breath & the calm you are feeling. Go on with your day and be kind to yourself. Repeat a few times each day.
– Make your bed. Everyday.
– Love yourself.
  Dream big – don’t sell your life short.
  If you are tired, rest, don’t quit.
– You DESERVE everything you want.
– Dump anyone around you who is rude to a waiter. They will do the same to you.
– Anger is the punishment we give ourselves for someone else’s mistake.
  Make your life worth living. What’s the first thing you should do?
  Happiness starts with you – not relationships, money, jobs, friends, activities – just you.
– FRIENDLY REMINDER: You only have a limited time on earth. Today is a good day to do something great.

Happy Holidays, Sharon Valentino, LMFT

Visit the below sites for a great deal of helpful information about a variety of subject.
Author: Sharon Valentino, MFT
Valentino Therapy – CA LMFT, RAS, ChT, CATC IV (#51746)
Visit my web:
Facebook: Valentino Therapy and Ask This Therapist
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist

Sleep Is Critical

person covering woman with blanket

Photo by Min An on


Getting enough sleep each night becomes even more critical for individuals entering the process of recovering from any sort of addiction.

A lot of us are having trouble with sleep.
Combating that is now called Sleep Hygiene, yes an odd term.
Without consistently good sleep it is almost impossible to function well, make good decisions and lot of research shows it is very hard to even lose weight.

Lack of Sleep – 
Lack of sleep can kill you, make you fat, make you “stupid”, ruin your health and your looks, certainly sap your energy, destroy your sex life harm your social life, cause serious health problems, affect your personality and on and on. Studies have found that sleep-deprived employees are less satisfied, less productive, and less creative. But you know this.
You read about the accidents caused by lack of sleep.
You read about this and depression.
Sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss can put you at risk for:
-Heart disease
-Heart attack
-Heart failure
-Irregular heartbeat
-High blood pressure
You also read about how people boast they can get by on less than 7-8 hours of good sleep – – still when tested, their driving ability, thinking ability and ability to perform at almost all levels is severely diminished. Yet they brag.
Maybe it’s the lack of sleep that causes this foolish thinking.
Surprisingly, over half of my in-office Marin County and San Francisco clients report sleep is a problem.

I’m sure you’ve heard: If You Snooze You Lose! Just not true!
Many studies have shown that lack of sleep relates to higher body mass, increases in hunger and higher levels of ghrelin.
These studies show a range of 30-35% higher likelihood of obesity in people who sleep less than 6 hours per day. Less sleep decreases leptin (you aren’t hungry) and increases ghrelin (feed me right now, especially high-fat & high-carb foods).
I believe that sleep psychology is a critically important part of any weight loss program.

What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is when you can’t regularly get the amount of sleep you need to wake up feeling rested, healthy and refreshed. For most people that is 7 to 9 hours sleep, though needs vary. You may have trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep or the sleep may be fitful for a variety of reasons.
Symptoms of insomnia can include:
-Can’t readily get to sleep, even though you are tired
-Waking up too early in the morning
-Using sleeping pills or alcohol to sleep
-Feeling tired or not wanting to get up after sleeping
-Drowsiness, exhaustion, or irritability
-Difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness
-Trouble getting back to sleep when waking up in the night
-Not being about to stay asleep or sleep through the night
Causes of Insomnia:
Stress, anxiety, and depression cause about half of all insomnia cases, but grief and loss ups the percentages considerably. Life stress, worries, bipolar and borderline disorders, anger, grief, and trauma are major factors in sleep problems and should be assessed to see if you may be unaware of their presence or effects.

Sleep greatly improves learning and memory. It triages memories, consolidating useful ones and discarding unhelpful or “duplicate” ones.
It also consolidates procedural memory, the memory of how to do things, which is one reason why athletes build it into their training routines.
As well as memory, sleep enhances mood and cognitive functioning.
Often the problem is habits that you don’t notice and may feel reluctant to alter until realizing how troublesome they are. The choice is yours, but not acting can have dire consequences on your short-term and long-term health.
You may not be aware that many prescription drugs can interfere with sleep, such as antidepressants, stimulants for ADHD, corticosteroids, thyroid hormone, high blood pressure medications, and some contraceptives. It is wise to make a list, go online to one of the many sources such as RxList and check, then discuss with your Dr.
Common over-the-counter culprits include cold and flu medications that contain alcohol, pain relievers that contain caffeine (Midol, Excedrin), diuretics, and slimming pills. (Information from
Insomnia, as noted above, is a sleep disorder but it can actually be caused by OTHER sleep disorders such as jet lag, night work, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, night terrors, particularly disturbing dreams and more, which is why a medical check-up with full disclosure on your part (always take notes you made in with you) is important.

What Can You Do?
Very often simple, fairly easy changes to your daily habits can put a stop to insomnia, please continue reading, below.
How Can You Fix Lack of Sleep? With Sleep Hygiene!
You have a good chance of turning the problem around if you look at EVERYTHING that may be affecting you negatively.
Here are just a few:
-Make a sleep diary on paper, or in your device, and track exactly what is going on & when.
-Do you sleep with a pet? If you can’t get Fluffy out of your bed, then you’d better commit to once a day brushing – just before bed (and not in the bedroom area) is necessary.
-Are your sheets and bed linens washed in hot water/hot dryer once a week to be fresh, to kill dust mites, rid them of allergens, etc.?
-Go to bed and get up at roughly the same time – even on weekends. This is important for your biological clock and circadian rhythms. Biologically it is proven that we internally respond to changes in the seasons, sun and moon, which is why jet lag and Daylight Savings Time can be so challenging for most of us. To set your bio-clock it is very important to get up and go to bed at the same time each day in order to feel well and be healthy.
-Do you have black out curtains (they are inexpensive and can hang behind your existing curtains or can be hung atop blinds)?
-Regular exercise of 30 minutes or more most days of the week will nearly always make a big improvement in sleep quality, but the effect is cumulative, not instant. Just not late in the day…
-Getting natural Vitamin D is so important for physical and mental health. It’s free but many people around the world live in areas where they can’t get enough. A huge federally funded study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that ¾ of US teens and adults are deficient in the so-called “Sunshine Vitamin”. This is very serious! Other studies blame this deficiency on leading to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and much more. A time-honored treatment for depression is getting outside for a walk daily. Many US children are seriously deficient due to being allowed to stay inside and play computer games.
-Avoid taking naps unless you are ill and limit them to not more than ½ hour and never after 3 PM. If you need more detail on this, there is an abundance on the web.
-If your bedroom is noisy, get an air purifier as they usually have a soft, soothing sound, and clean the air while distributing a soft breeze that moves the stale air around a bit.
-Do you watch TV, play video games, or use a computer, tablet or smart phone in bed?
Your bedroom should be for sex and sleep – really nothing else. Meditate, read, watch TV elsewhere so that when you go into your bedroom your psyche is primed to know it is time to sleep, or have sex and fall asleep.
-Do not fall asleep on the couch. As soon as you are sleepy, go to bed.
-Do you have caffeine or uppers (coffee, tea, nicotine, soda, drugs) after 4 pm?
-Some people benefit from ear plugs or a sleep mask. It’s a matter of preference.
-Lots of research shows that a cool bedroom is MUCH more conducive to sleep than a warmer one. Throw on an extra blanket or warmer pajamas. Try it. You will sleep better.
-Do you exercise or eat after 8 pm? Heavy, spicy meals cause sleep problems.
-Never, never get in an argument or read the news or social media just before bed. Quiet activities such as reading, soft music, meditation are all very helpful just before bed. I purposely read with a soft light before bed, as it is non-stimulating and causes a little eye fatigue, making me feel sleepy faster.
-Do you use alcohol to fall asleep? Do you use it to get back to sleep? If so, you are starting a vicious cycle and very possibly an addiction. Yes, alcohol will definitely help you go to sleep. It will also assure an unhealthy sleep and it will assure that when it cycles through your system causing blood sugar drops and other problems, it will then turn on you and wake you up. Then you need more alcohol to go back to sleep – and then addiction enters the arena. This is a particular problem for older people who are susceptible to sleep problems and dependence on alcohol in trying to fight insomnia. Its use can also add to dangerous falls, unsafe driving and other serious problems.
-Get off the screens one hour before sleep & cover the blue lights in your bedroom. You know what I’m talking about. Your TV, phone, alarm, computer, tablets, etc. all have blue or light that severely disrupts sleep, blocks your body’s production of melatonin and throws off your natural rhythms so important for health and sleep.
-If you can’t fall asleep, get up briefly, without turning on a lot of lights, and do something calming such as make a note of what is on your mind that needs to be done the next day, get a warm bath, have ½ cup of a warm non-caffeinated drink (more than 4 oz. is likely to make you wake up to visit the bathroom), meditate, etc. then get right back in bed as soon as you feel a little sleepy or are yawning.
-When you are struggling, just decide to enjoy relaxing and not making sleep the immediate goal. Without even getting out of bed you can do progressive muscle relaxation, prayer, meditation, visualize yourself on a beach calmly counting each wave until you drop off to sleep if you don’t like to get out of bed.
-Stop worrying and tell yourself that whatever is the issue you will address it in the morning. Write what is worrying you on a pad by the bed so you aren’t also worrying about forgetting it when you wake up.
-If you can’t self-regulate and improve your sleep, get help right away.

Your health and your thinking ability is too important not to take care of.
Happy sleep tonight.
Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.

For information about a wide range of articles and helpful information you could visit my website:

Pinterest: Ask This Therapist
Instagram: Ask This Therapist
I post several times a week to:
Facebook: Valentino Therapy
Facebook: Parenting With Help
Facebook: Ask This Therapist
Blogs at WordPress:
Valentino Therapy
Addiction Hurts
All this information and help is almost like having a therapist for free. 😉

Nothing is for sale unless WordPress or FB has slipped something of their own in, and I don’t capture your information or anything else. This information is solely meant to help and support people in their journeys in life.

Too Hard on Yourself?

adult blur books close up

Photo by Pixabay on

Too hard on yourself: 

When it comes to overcoming an addiction, it’s especially important to not be too hard on yourself and to understand that there are most likely many other people going through similar things.

Generally, when we are critical of ourselves and set standards that allow little rest or are too high, too fast or whatever, it is because we had an early experience of somehow taking in the measure we were not good enough.
We’re all our own worst critics.

Evolutionary psychologists have studied our natural “negativity bias,” which is that instinct in us all that makes negative experiences seem more significant than they really are. Sadly, we are primed to remember negative events and messages much more than positive ones which at some time probably served to help keep us safe (don’t go near the dangerous snake again) but in today’s society its becoming harder and harder to turn off the negative loop thinking that goes on in our heads most of the time.

CBT (Cognitive behavioral therapy) is particularly good at addressing this. (Read our other article “Mind Over Matter” which talks more about how to apply CBT to your life.)

We’ve evolved to give more weight to our flaws, mistakes, and shortcomings than our successes.
Self-criticism can even take a toll on both our minds and bodies.
It can lead to ruminative thoughts that interfere with our productivity, and it can impact our bodies by stimulating inflammatory mechanisms that lead to chronic illness and accelerate aging, according to a few studies (not much money for research for that to monetize that info.).
There are ways around our negativity bias, and it is possible to turn self-criticism into opportunities for learning and personal growth.

Clinicians are particularly concerned when clients are hard on themselves because that negative self-talk can lead to a lot of mental health problems including symptoms of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, negative self-image and, in a particularly vicious twist, decreased motivation.
It often leads to burn-out as well if you keep pushing yourself to do more and more.

I’m posting below some tips for not being so hard on yourself that I did not author.

Clinically I see more progress with using CBT.
I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Your mistakes are part of your learning.

Learn to be resilient in the face of failure.

Don’t compare yourself to others because you aren’t them. 

You’re you, so accept yourself for who you are, faults and all. 

There is no right way to do anything. 

Don’t limit your thinking to a right or wrong way–there’s no right way to do the wrong thing, and no wrong way to do something right!

Stand up for what you believe, even if it’s unpopular. 

Make everyone understand your big, crazy ideas. Learn from people who criticize you. 

Don’t let criticism get you down; let it inspire you to work your ass off! 

Accept your weaknesses as your “features”. 

You aren’t good at everything you do, but nobody else is, either! 

Look at your past as an adventurous biography. 

Your past isn’t your identity and doesn’t dictate your entrepreneurial destiny. 

Don’t underestimate your talent until you apply it 100 times. 

Are you applying your natural talents? 

Every single problem you have is not unique. 

Put your problems in perspective and solve them faster.

Intelligence is relative, self-esteem is not. 

Stay positive, take care of yourself, forget about being perfect, and always keep improving yourself. 

Express your anger in a creative way. 

Feel your anger, express it, and learn from it. 

Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed. 

Having people you can trust and rely on will make you happier and feel better about yourself.

Visit the below sites for a great deal of helpful information about a variety of subject.
Author: Sharon Valentino, MFT
Valentino Therapy – CA LMFT, RAS, ChT, CATC IV (#51746)
Visit my web:
Facebook: Valentino Therapy and Ask This Therapist
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist

Self Care Checklist

hand pen writing plant

Photo by Natalie B on

Self-Care Checklist:

Since you are on a journey of understanding and growth on this site it is important to emphasize self-care. It’s critical to get through life in a healthy manner but especially to get through difficult changes.

Completing the following exercise will help (one of the surveys found in Outsmart Your Brain: How to Master Your Mind When Emotions Take the Wheel by Marcia Reynolds).

Is your business making you unhealthy?
Are you rushing around all day, all week ending up exhausted?
Is it possible you are doing things that aren’t critical to your mental and physical health?

I hope this check list can ask some questions that can put your life in order, remind you of what is important for sustaining your life and happiness.

 Check the items you can honestly say are true for you.


o     Is your office organized so you can find things easily?

o     Are your work spaces pile-free?

o     Does your home provide you comfort and a peaceful place where you can think?

o     Are your appliances at home in working order?

o     Do you have back-up systems in case of electric failure, including for your computers, at home and at work?

o     Do you maintain your car regularly and is everything working properly?

o     Does your home have a smoke detector, fire extinguisher and easy contact to the police?

o     Do you keep enough home and office supplies so you don’t run out?

o     Do you find the colors and wall decor in your home and office pleasing?

o     Is the temperature in your home and office comfortable?


o     Do you sleep 6-8 hours every day?

o     Is your bed comfortable?

o     Does your back feel fine after sitting in your chair at work?

o     Do you eat fresh, healthful food almost every day?

o     Do you exercise at least three times a week?

o     Is your cholesterol count within the normal range?

o     Do you drink at least five glasses of filtered water each day?

o     Do you drink two or less caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, sodas) per day?

o     Do you keep your sugar-intake to a minimum?

o     Do you get a complete medical physical annually?


o     Do you wake up looking forward to your day?

o     Do you take the time to acknowledge what you are grateful for each night?

o     Do you take at least two vacations a year that refresh and energize you?

o     Do you have someone in your life that hugs you regularly?

o     Do you arrive at least five minutes early for your appointments?

o     Do you take your time when driving?

o     Do you promise only what you can deliver?

o     Do you regularly explore new ways of perceiving the world?

o     Do you have a good belly laugh at least once a day?

o     Do you have at least two friends outside of your immediate family who you feel free to talk with about anything?


o     Are you debt free or on your way to releasing yourself from debt?

o     Do you save at least 10% of your income?

o     Do you carry enough cash in your wallet to cover emergencies?

o     Do you feel you are compensated adequately for your work?

o     Can you recover from a financial disappointment quickly?

o     Do you have enough savings to cover a home, car, or health emergency?

o     Do you carry enough insurance for your home, car and health?

o     Do you invest in your own career development so you can earn more in the future?

o     Do you have a special knowledge or skill that gives you job security?

o  Do you have a reputable and knowledgeable financial advisor?


o     Do you have people in your life who encourage your dreams?

o     Do you have friends to talk to when you need to relieve your stress?

o     Have you said you are sorry to those who feel you have harmed in any way?

o     Have you forgiven family members, friends and colleagues for hurting you?

o     Have you resolved all of your conflicts so that you don’t avoid anyone?

o     Do you tell your friends and family how much you care about them on a regular basis?

o     Have you stopped trying to fix people?

o     Have you disconnected from people who repeatedly disappoint, frustrate, or disrespect you as much as you can?

o     Do you feel significant with everyone you come in contact with?

o     Do you have a way of recharging your faith in life when you need to?

 Tally up the boxes you checked.

 TOTAL BOXES CHECKED ______     Date _____________________

– Set goals to achieve the boxes left blank, one box at a time.

-Start with the category you scored the highest on so you begin on your strongest foot.

-Work on this checklist until your score reaches at least 45.

-As your score increases, notice how much your energy increases as well.

-What would you add to this to make it even more useful for you?

(one of the surveys found in Outsmart Your Brain: How to Master Your Mind When Emotions Take the Wheel by Marcia Reynolds).

Visit the below sites for a great deal of helpful information about a variety of subject.
Author: Sharon Valentino, MFT
Valentino Therapy – CA LMFT, RAS, ChT, CATC IV (#51746)
Visit my web:
Facebook: Valentino Therapy and Ask This Therapist
Pinterest: Ask This Therapist