My 30-Day Holiday Challenge to You

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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


What is Important?

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What is Important?

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)?

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

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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:

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All this information and help is almost like having a therapist for free. 😉

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Too Hard on Yourself?

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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

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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

What Can You Do for Yourself This Week?

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Negative emotions can eat a hole in our souls.

If your body and mind have been taking an emotional beating, you will certainly need a bit of self-care and well-being to get over it, and get through it in whatever ways and means are available to you — or new ones that you create.

Self-care is where we take our power back.

What is the one thing you could do for yourself this week?

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

Why Do We Need Friends?

Why Do We Need Friends?

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When dealing with addiction, friends are especially important for support and assistance in order to stay strong throughout the recovery process.

Friends are very important.
So important, in fact, that it’s been proven that friendship can extend life expectancy and lower incident of heart disease. Friendship ignites the part of the brain that makes us feel good, which makes us want to keep hanging out with our friends.
Our friends influence us in so many ways, including helping us to develop critical life skills at every point in our aging.
Having friends can help you get more friends so realize those you are introduced to are important. People want to be friends with folks that are said to be nice and helpful – are you projecting that?
Close friends can be a vital lifeline of support.
Most of us know that “Couple Friends” can support your own relationship if they have a good one of their own and are respectful of one another.
One of the most valuable things that friends can do is give you a reality check when you are going over the edge of clothing choices, behaviors and attitudes too.

It takes effort all throughout life to make friends, to hold onto the ones you have and to replace those who move, die or are no longer compatible with your views and needs.
The older you get the harder it can be to make friends. It takes more work since you are no longer looking for someone to come out and play ball before dinner.
So how long does it take to make friends? How much time is involved?
A recent study from Kansas University found that the average adult needs to spend 50 hours of time with a person for you to be able to reasonably consider them a casual friend.
And then it takes 90 hours to become real friends and 200 hours for someone to be your close friend.

How can you make a friend?
It generally starts best by not under or over-disclosing or you will start the interaction on a negative vein.
Many people find that asking a couple of simple non-personal questions or giving a compliment relaxes the other party and encourages conversation. Hopefully, they will reciprocate in like kind. Your share might be as simple as admitting you are shy around strangers or that you are new and hoping to make friends or get to know people.
So, sharing a very small personal piece of information to see if they will do the same lets you know how willing they are to engage and possibly become friends.
Then in subsequent meetings you share very slightly more personal information and wait to see if that sharing at about the same level is returned.
And it goes on from there in small increments at each meeting.
If someone immediately over-shares personal information you might want to back off; if you over-share you should also expect some backward peddling.
How about work? In order to make lasting adult friendships with colleagues, you have to remove the friendship from the workplace and spend time together outside the office. And if you leave that work place you obviously need to work to keep up the friendship. Just being around someone at work and chatting with them daily doesn’t mean you are friends. You need to find common interests and invite them to go share some activity with you.

You make friends so you live long, so you are happier, and so your people skills constantly increase with the changing times. It’s important.

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