Life Beyond Therapy: Practical ways to lower your stress (and be more relaxed)

Well, summer is over and those lazy vacation days are probably a thing of the past. So, how can you have a nice, peaceful, mellow autumn?

Over the years, I’ve been compiling a list of ways to lower stress. These are personal observations, great ideas from other people and tips I’ve gained from colleagues at professional conferences. My list is pretty long: it has over 70 items! So I’ve narrowed it down to my personal favorites:

Physical stuff:

-Reduce your xanthene intake.

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Life Beyond Therapy: Stuck in the (bisexual) closet

Dear Michael:

I am a closet bisexual. I have been with a terrific guy for about 10 years now. We have a great sex life and a good life together. But, I have never been with another woman sexually and I want to experience that.

So, last month I told my boyfriend and he freaked out. He said that this was a deal breaker for him and that we agreed to be monogamous and that this totally fucks with his ability to trust me. What do I do now?

—Coming Out and Unhappy

Life Beyond Therapy: Taking a chance on happiness

Everybody I know says that they want to be happy and it sounds like a pretty normal thing, but rarely do we explore what happiness is and how we can get there.

Happiness is often defined as some perfect combination of pleasure, joy, exhilaration, bliss, contentedness, enjoyment and satisfaction. Sounds good, right? But if this is something that we really want, then why is it so often missing from our lives?

Life Beyond Therapy: Cheaters

Dear Michael:

I never thought it would happen to me, but here I am, in a relationship with a cheater.

I didn’t know he was sleeping with other guys, but I started to notice too many things that were weird and he then started being extra nice to me in a way that made me wonder what the hell was going on.

Anyway, I found out, confronted him and he admitted it. The problem is: What do I do now? Do I forgive him? How can I trust him again? He swears he won’t do it again, but can I believe him?

Life Beyond Therapy: Parenting yourself

Almost everyone I know complains about their parents — clients, friends and relatives alike. Our parents never get it right, do they? They always screw up in tons of creative, hurtful ways. But what can we do about it?

We can learn to parent ourselves.

Many of us go through life looking for what our parents couldn’t give us. We look to friends, partners, children and our pets for those missing pieces of ourselves that we never got. I see it a lot as a psychotherapist: There’s all this stuff we didn’t get from our parents that we still want. And we want it NOW.

Life Beyond Therapy: How to raise your self-esteem

Self-esteem is a phrase that you hear a lot in the media. I’d like to talk a bit about what self-esteem is and how you can improve yours.

When I worked for Kaiser-Permanente Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, I both founded and facilitated the “Healthy Relationships Support Group.” A key concept of the group was that without healthy self-esteem, a healthy relationship is almost impossible.

That said, I invite you to take this self-esteem quiz. Read the following statements and rate them on a scale of 1 (totally true) to 10 (totally false).

Life Beyond Therapy: Reinventing marriage

Now, no matter what state we live in, move to, or visit, our same-sex marriages are legal. Hooray! This has been a long time coming.

As a therapist and someone who has conducted numerous workshops on same-sex relationships in the past few years, many LGBT men and women have come up to me after their particular workshop was over, pulled me over to the side, and asked, “So Michael, what do you think is really the best way to do same-sex marriage?”

Life Beyond Therapy: Fat? Old? Ugly?

I was inspired to write this column after seeing an ad in an LGBT periodical (not from San Diego). The above three words were the large font headline.

Nice, huh? So helpful and encouraging.

It was an ad for plastic surgery; playing on our worst fears and offering a very expensive, and temporary, solution. If only plastic surgery would solve all of our self-esteem problems, I’d sign up myself.

Life Beyond Therapy: How to have a happy summer

Summers are supposed to be happy, right? Carefree, easy, laid-back … and yet, so often they are not. This column is about how to make this summer one of your best ever. Let’s start with: