By Randy Moraitis, MA, BCPC, CPC

Do you ever feel stressed out? Has anyone ever told you to “chill out”? If so, then it’s time you considered meditation as part of your daily routine.

Numerous highly regarded studies have shown that just 10 minutes of daily meditation can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, fight autoimmune diseases, and improve your attitude towards, and quality of, life.

Dr. Herbert Benson, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, says, “You should be meditating every day.” That is quite a call to action from one of our nation’s leading physicians!

This is because our every day stressors from work, family, and society evoke a fight-or-flight response which increases our heart rate, breathing and blood pressure. But because we are not actually always running and fighting our body doesn’t use the hormones produced from the stress.

Dr. Benson states that these unused hormones put us at risk for a variety of diseases and conditions including anxiety, depression, insomnia, infertility, heart attacks, strokes, and more.

Dr. Benson claims that we can negate the fight-or-flight response by developing our “relaxation response”, which he claims can be done through repetitive prayer, Yoga, and of course meditation.

Meditation is great for you mental health, your spiritual health, even your physical health–but did you know that meditation can also be great for your financial health? According to a study published in the American Journal of Hypertension patients who regularly practiced meditation had a 28% decrease in physician fees.

It’s your health and your wallet, but the facts are clear–spending 10 minutes a day meditating may be the best investment you ever make!

Don’t know how to meditate? No worries! In my next blog post I will teach the basics and get you started. It’s easier than you think. In the meantime, click here for a relaxation technique that will definitely help you chill out.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Has meditation helped you?
Email: randy@randymoraitis.com
Websites: www.thecrossing.com, www.randymoraitis.com, www.carepossible.com

 

According to new data published in the world’s leading general medical journal The Lancet, mental and substance use disorders were the leading causes of illness worldwide in 2010.

Harvey A. Whiteford, MD, of the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland, Australia, and colleagues wrote, “These disorders were responsible for more of the global burden than were HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, diabetes, or transport injuries.”

Overall, mental and substance use disorders were the fifth leading cause of premature death and disease worldwide, and accounted for 22.9% of all nonfatal illness — more than any other disease!This is an alarming trend and in a press release Dr. Whiteford said, “barriers to mental health care must be addressed to reduce the global prevalence of mental and substance use disorders.”

A second study published alongside Dr. Whiteford’s stated that opioid dependence was responsible for the greatest burden of disease among all illicit drugs, accounting for 55% of the 78,000 deaths linked to drug use in 2010. The study also showed that more than two-thirds of individuals dependent on drugs were male — 64% each for cannabis and amphetamines and 70% each for opioids and cocaine, and the proportion of drug dependence increased in the highest-income countries.

What can you do to address the barriers to mental health and addiction treatment?

  • Get educated. We cannot fix what we do not understand.
  • Early intervention. If you or someone you know needs treatment for mental health or substance abuse issues, do all you can to encourage immediate treatment and research the treatment options.
  • Remove the stigma. Mental health and addiction issues should be looked at as disease, not personal failing. Surround these issues with support, not stigma or negativity.

To learn more or to help break through the barrier to treatment that so many face, visit www.carepossible.org. CarePossible is a nonprofit focused on making mental health care and addiction treatment possible for everyone.

I would love to hear from you. Please contact me at randy@randymoraitis.com. Websites: www.thecrossing.com and www.randymoraitis.com.

marriage
1. TALK!
It is critical for couples to talk regularly and talk from the heart! As you get to know your spouse better you should grow in learning how and when to best communicate. Be wise and pay attention to what works and what doesn’t. And when you do talk, share your feelings. If you have trouble expressing your emotions, try a feelings chart by clicking here.

2. GRATITUDE!
Having an attitude of gratitude will really change the tone of your marriage. Be sincerely grateful for your spouse, and let them know that you are grateful. Sometimes we get so busy with the daily tasks of life that we take our spouses for granted. Be thankful, then tell your spouse that you are thankful!

3. TEACHABILITY!
Be open minded and mature enough to realize that you may have some new lessons to learn. We are all works in progress that will do best if open to learning and growing through life. Sometimes couple may need a therapist or counselor to teach them the tools and skills needed to grow together through a difficult issue or season.

4. INTIMACY!
There are three types of intimacy that are key to the best marriages–relational intimacy, spiritual intimacy  and sexual intimacy. When you have the first two in place, the third flows more naturally. Be sure to invest in relational intimacy through talks, activities, and date nights. Invest in spiritual intimacy by praying together and attending church together. The closeness you develop through these activities will serve to strengthen your sexual intimacy.

5. DO-OVERS!
Let’s face it, we all make mistakes! Because of this I encourage all married couples to have a rule in their marriage: if they are arguing, one spouse can say, “Let’s start over” and the other agrees.This works great for most day to day marital spats. Obviously more serious issues may require a counselor to help resolve. Bottom line–forgiveness and the willingness to start fresh is key to a healthy marriage. Holding on to resentments only hurts the marriage.

Talk to your spouse, or future spouse, about these five tips. Just having that conversation is a healthy start!

If you have any marriage tips, I’d love to hear them. You can email me at randy@randymoraitis.com. Websites: www.carepossible.org and www.randymoraitis.com.

five_love_languages

By Randy Moraitis, MA, BCPC, CPC

What if there was a way for you to know how to have better relationships? A way to better understand yourself and a way to better understand your partner? Wouldn’t that be great? Well guess what? There is!

It is the New York Times bestseller The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. This classic book is a favorite of pre-marital counselors and marriage counselors because the information it contains is helpful to any relationship. In fact it has been translated to more than 40 languages and has helped people around the world.

The premise of the book is that although there are many ways we can show our love to others, there are five “love languages” that are universal. Dr. Chapman states that we all have a love language and we can all relate primarily to one of these five love languages:

1. Words of Affirmation
2. Quality Time
3.  Receiving Gifts
4.  Acts of Service
5.  Physical Touch

The book describes the different love languages in detail to help you understand both your primary love languages, as well as your partners. There is even an assessment in the book that will determine your primary and secondary love languages.

Why is this important? As a counselor I often work with couples who do not really understand their partners. They spend a lot of energy trying to show love to their partner, but it is usually in their own love language, not their partners. This ends up being wasted time and energy that only leads to frustration for both parties.

As an example, I once worked with a couple who just weren’t connecting. The husband was confused and frustrated. He came home from work every day and did a lot of housework thinking he was showing his love to his wife. He thought this way because his “love language” was acts of service. However, his wife’s love language was quality time. She just wanted his time and attention; she didn’t care about him mopping the floor, so she felt unloved and she let him know it!

They were not connecting because they were not speaking the right language to each other. Once they learned about their love languages, they were able to express their love to each other in ways that really led to deeper and more fulfilling connection.

How about you? Do you know your love language? And more importantly, do you know your partner’s love language? If not, I highly recommend you read The 5 Love Languages. A little education and a little effort can go a long way towards improving your relationship and transforming your life!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. If you have any questions or comments, please send them to randy@randymoraitis.com.

Website: www.randymoraitis.com or www.thecrossing.com.

valentine day

4 Steps to a Great Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day—the often dreaded, frequently disappointing, and usually expensive holiday is here.

Here are 4 easy to remember steps to help make this Valentine’s Day have more lasting meaning and depth than you can buy with an expensive present. (You can still buy the present!)

L—LOVE.
One of the best ways to show you love and care about someone is to actively listen to them. Look them in their eyes when they talk to you. Reflect, and repeat back, some of what they say to you in order to show and ensure that you understand them. Feeling listened to will make someone feel loved and cared for.

O—Overcome.
When you are in a long term relationship with someone you are bound to experience conflict. Remember to work together as a team so that you can overcome any bumps in the road together.

V—Value.
Stop and think about how important your special someone is to you. What do they mean to you? What do you appreciate about them? Whatever just came to your mind—be sure to share that. Tell them how much you value and appreciate them.

E—Encourage.
One of my favorite quotes is “encourage one another and build each other up” (from 1 Thessalonians 5:11). Our words are so powerful—we need to use them to encourage and build up our loved ones. It takes five positive comments to balance out one negative comment to others (read that twice so it sinks in!). Make sure your words encourage those you love if you really want them to feel loved.

Whether you are spending time on Valentine’s Day with your spouse, your significant other, or your children, if you remember to Listen, Overcome, Value, and Encourage them, I am pretty sure that they are going to feel the love!

How do you feel about Valentine’s Day? You can email me at randy@randymoraitis.com or visit my websites www.randymoraitis.com or www.thecrossing.com

By Randy Moraitis, MA, BCPC

Wellness is a hot topic right now. A quick Google search of the word “wellness” will net 490 million hits.
That is a huge amount of  interest in the subject of wellness.

So just what is “wellness”? According to the Oxford Dictionary, wellness is “the state or condition of being in good physical and mental health”.

While fitness programs focus on physical health, wellness programs, often designed by wellness coaches, take the process a step further by including focus on one’s mental health.

This is crucial because mental health and physical health are often closely connected, as we see in the proven link between anxiety, depression, and exercise. Numerous studies have shown that regular exercise can reduce or eliminate anxiety and depression in certain individuals.

Starting on a Path to Wellness!

Physical—the American College of Sports Medicine recommends the following for physical exercise:

  • 3-5 times per week.
  • 30-60 minutes per session.
  • 1 session per day.
  • Include aerobic (cardio), strength training, and flexibility exercises.
  • Find activities you enjoy.

Mental—for good mental health try the following:

  • Schedule regular time for rest and relaxation.
  • Engage in healthy community such as a small group at your local church.
  • Seek a counselor or therapist to deal with past hurts.
  • Spend time with family and friends.
  • Find your passion and purpose in life and live it out!

For more information on wellness programs please feel free to contact me at randy@randymoraitis.com. Websites: www.randymoraitis.com and www.thecrossing.com.

Consult with your physician or a qualified wellness coach before starting a new exercise program.

Couple arguing
By Randy Moraitis, MA, BCPC

Most people hate conflict and would rather avoid conflict altogether than work towards a solution. Here is a five step plan for you to use next time you have a conflict with a friend, family member, or significant other.

1. Check Your Anger.
Be sure your anger is under control. Thomas Jefferson once said, “When angry count to ten before speaking. When very angry count to 100.” This is great advice. If you cannot share your thoughts or feelings in a safe and loving way, take some time to cool down!

2. Check The Timing.
Is this an appropriate time to deal with this conflict? Are you in public or in front of children? Find a safe and appropriate time for both parties to work towards a solution.

3. Practice Intentional Listening and Forgiveness.
Decide who will share first and who will intentionally listen first. Practice empathy and humility, and try to stay as positive as possible while sharing. Then reverse roles of listener and sharer. Thank each other for listening and ask each other how you feel about what was shared. After sharing and listening, ask for forgiveness and apologize.

4. Brainstorm Solutions.
Work together with an open mind to come up with as many solutions as possible for the conflict.

5. Choose A Solution.

Decide which solution from the brainstorming session you each are willing to try. Do your best to agree on a win-win and be open to some compromise. Clearly communicate the plan to each other. Give it a try and then give it some time. If the solution does not work out, then do another brainstorming session and choose a new solution. You can do this!

Learn this plan and you can have confidence in yourself knowing you can handle any conflict!

Special thanks to Dr. Roger Tirabassi for teaching me these techniques.

I would love to hear your input on this topic. Email: randy@randymoraitis.com.

Websites: www.randymoraitis.com and www.thecrossing.com

forgive

By Randy Moraitis, MA, BCPC

In my last blog post concepts from the book The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman were discussed. Here we look at a later work by Dr. Chapman (along with Jennifer Thomas) called The Five Love Languages of Apology—How to Experience Healing in All Your Relationships.

The main premise in this helpful book is that individuals must learn to apologize and forgive each other in order to have healthy relationships.

There are no perfect husbands or wives, parents or kids, family members or friends. We all make mistakes. We all blow it sometimes. When we do, we need to sincerely apologize. The problem is that people have different ideas about what an apology is. What may seem like a sincere apology to one person may not be seen that way by the injured party.

The books authors claim that, through countless hours of counseling sessions, they determined there are five different ways that folks usually apologize. These  languages of apology are usually learned in childhood. Here they are:

5 Languages of Apology

1. Expressing Regret—People who relate to this style of apology usually say, “I’m sorry that I.. “. Once they’ve said they are sorry, to them the situation should be over.  When expressing regret, always say what you’re sorry for, and never add the word “but”.

2. Accepting Responsibility—This is when the person says, “I was wrong”. For folks who speak this language of apology once they admit they were in the wrong, they feel the matter should be over.

3. Offering to Make Restitution—Those with this language of apology will often say, “What can I do to make this right?” They want to make up for the wrong. A husband forgets his wife’s birthday perhaps he can make up for it by taking her on a cruise. To be an effective apology, the bigger the wrong, the bigger the restitution!

4. Genuinely Repenting—This is where the person in the wrong truly wants to change their behavior. They often say, “I don’t want this to keep happening”. To be sincere this apology needs a plan to show that behavior really can change.

5. Requesting Forgiveness— Some people will not forgive if you don’t ask them for
forgiveness. You just may need to say, “Will you please forgive me?”

When you apologize, what do you normally say or do? See if you can determine your apology language from the five above. Remember, the way you apologize may not be what the person you hurt needs to hear.

For example, you may hurt someone’s feelings, then say “I am sorry”, and think you have properly apologized. But that person may be waiting for you to ask for forgiveness. If you sense your apology is not
connecting it is okay to ask the other person what they need.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this or any other topic. If you have questions or comments please send them to randy@randymoraitis.com.
Website: www.randymoraitis.com. Twitter: @RMoraitis

 christmas tree
By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

1. What’s up with mistletoe? Mistletoe, the only plant to rival roses for inspiring kisses, was originally used by Druid priests 200 years before the birth of Christ in their winter celebrations. They revered the plant since it had no roots yet remained green during the cold months of winter.

The ancient Celtics believed mistletoe to have magical healing powers and used it as an antidote for poison, infertility, and to ward off evil spirits. The plant was also seen as a symbol of peace, and it is said that among Romans, enemies who met under mistletoe would lay down their weapons and embrace.

Scandinavians associated the plant with Frigga, their goddess of love, and it may be from this that we derive the custom of kissing under the mistletoe. Those who kissed under the mistletoe had the promise of happiness and good luck in the following year.

So mistletoe is more related to wintertime, than Christmas, but it’s use is highly encouraged by this writer.

2. The stable truth. The biblical story about the birth of Christ does not actually mention a stable. It does mention a manger which often leads people to think the baby Jesus was born in a barn. In reality, Jesus was probably born in a cave or, according to archaeology experts, Jesus was probably born in the house of relatives, but outside of the normal living and guest quarters. Quite a humble beginning.

3. Who were The Three Kings? Sorry to totally mess up your nativity scene (mine, too!) but there is no actual mention of “kings” in the biblical account of Christ’s birth. The Bible does say that wise men, also called “magi”, (but not Kings) visited Jesus. And it never says there were three of them. The word used for “magi” is plural, there were more than one, but people assume there were three because of the three gifts—gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Bottom line, they were not kings and there may not have been three of them!

4. Is Christmas really Jesus’ birthday? Although it is possible, it is very unlikely that Jesus was born on December 25th. No one knows for sure the exact date of Christ’s birth. The date chosen to celebrate it may be related to the Roman Saturnalia festival that lasted from the 17th -23rd of December. December 25th was chosen somewhere during the 4th century AD by the heads of the church. People were already used to gathering, so why not celebrate the birth of Christ?

5. Who is Santa Claus? Yes, Virginia, there really was a Santa Claus! The origin of Santa Claus began in the 4th century with the real Saint Nicholas, a Bishop in present day Turkey. By all accounts St. Nicholas was a generous and devoted Christ follower. He was particularly devoted to children. His kindness and reputation for generosity gave rise to much folklore that has spread and increased across cultures and through the years.

6. What about Jesus? Who was he? Did he really exist or was he a mythological character? There can be no doubt that Jesus actually existed and that he walked the earth. Sources outside of the Bible clearly confirm this. We may not have all the facts and cast of characters of our nativity scenes completely accurate, but we can rest assured that Jesus Christ was born, that his birth has been celebrated for two thousand years, and that he is the reason for the season. Merry Christmas!

Do you have any interesting Christmas facts or fallacies? I would love to hear them! Contact me at randy@randymoraitis.com or 949-303-8264. Websites: www.randymoraitis.com and www.carepossible.org.

About Randy Moraitis
Randy is married to Kim and they live in Laguna Niguel. Together they have a blended family of five adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. (If you don’t believe Randy he will gladly show you pictures!) Randy is a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and expert in helping families affected by addiction and/or mental health issues. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and is both licensed and ordained as a pastoral counselor. He has five professional coaching certifications and loves working with clients on executive coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching and recovery coaching. Randy has a master’s degree with emphasis in theology and counseling, a bachelors degree in management and leadership, and a certificate in health and fitness with emphasis in exercise physiology and sports psychology from UC Irvine. He has been helping groups, individuals and families get mentally, physically and spiritually healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.

christmas family

By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

The holidays are rapidly approaching and most of us have this ideal image of how we want our family lives to be full of joy and peace during this special time of year. This ideal is challenging enough in traditional family systems, but for those who are in a step-family system peace during the holidays can seem like an unattainable fantasy.

These days almost everyone is somehow connected to a step-family system whether in our own home or in the home of our relatives. You may have step-kids, step-grandchildren, step-nieces or nephews, or even get a new step-parent once you are already an adult if one of your parents remarries. If so, then you are
part of what’s called a step-family system.

Step-family systems can be very challenging. Step-families are often referred to as blended families because the hope is to blend two families together. The term “blended family” can be a little misleading as it implies that the two families blend together quickly like a smoothie in your kitchen blender.

The reality is that life in a step-family is more like using a crock-pot, than a blender. In a crock-pot it takes a long, slow time for something to cook. Step-families can take some time to get to a place of peace and harmony in the home.

Here are three quick tips to help step-families get on a healthy path during the holidays. Whether you are part of a step family system, or are someone who works with kids and families, these are great tips for you to know, share, and apply to make our families happier and healthier.

1. Have Extra Grace—The first rule of step-families is to have extra grace! That means to be more
forgiving on a daily basis. There are so many stressful issues inherent in step-families that it is imperative for step-family members to have an overall attitude of extra grace in their homes.

The parents must decide to create a culture of extra grace in their home, and then teach it to their children. And the parents must model the extra grace rule. It is very common that your step children will get under your skin faster and more frequently than your biological children. When you are aware of that tendency, it is easier to control it and exercise grace. A home filled with extra grace is a home where families can begin to blend together in a healthy way.

2. Discipline with Wisdom—In a step family system, discipline dispensed with wisdom goes a long way towards creating the best possible family environment. When step-parents discipline their step-child, this creates a great deal of resentment that may fester over time, be very difficult to overcome, and be a drain on the peace and harmony in the home.

When a child misbehaves and discipline is necessary both parents should discuss the situation and come to an agreement on the proper course of action behind closed doors. They then address the child with the biological parent stating what the discipline is, and the step-parent standing right behind the biological parent showing their support for the decision and their spouse.

Quick example: Billy, who lives with his stepdad and biological mom, stays out thirty minutes past curfew. Step-dad thinks Billy should be grounded for two weeks; mom thinks Billy should lose his cellphone
for a day. Stepdad and mom need to discuss, and perhaps compromise a little, on the course of action, but they have to do it behind closed doors or else Billy will try to divide and conquer if he sees them arguing. Once the decision is made, mom and stepdad approach Billy, with Mom in front doing the talking and
stepdad standing right behind her. Mom lays down the law and stepdad shows his strong support for her.

3. Create New Family Traditions—When two families come together each one has had family traditions in their past that are so important and dear to their hearts. While it is important to honor and respect those past traditions, it is wise to start some new family traditions that are unique to the new blended family.

New family traditions can include family movie nights, family game nights, or a new sport or other activity. And of course the holidays are a great time to start a new family tradition. Some new decorations, a special meal, attending a Christmas Eve service, a snow day, there are numerous possibilities. Be creative and have fun with it…you may be starting something that will last for generations!Happy Holidays to you and your family!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. If you have any questions or comments, please send them to randy@randymoraitis.com or call 949-303-8264.
Websites: www.carepossible.orgwww.randymoraitis.com.

About Randy Moraitis
Randy is married to Kim and they live in Laguna Niguel. Together they have a blended family of five adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. (If you don’t believe Randy he will gladly show you pictures!) Randy is a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and expert in helping families affected by addiction and/or mental health issues. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and is both licensed and ordained as a pastoral counselor. He has five professional coaching certifications and loves working with clients on executive coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching and recovery coaching. Randy has a master’s degree with emphasis in theology and counseling, a bachelors degree in management and leadership, and a certificate in health and fitness with emphasis in exercise physiology and sports psychology from UC Irvine. He has been helping groups, individuals and families get mentally, physically and spiritually healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.