Posts by TheHopeLine Team

9 Ways to Reduce Codependence for a Healthier Relationship

Relationships are complicated! A healthy one is meant to have a balance of give and take, but sometimes that balance flies out the window… maybe because a friend is having a hard time and needs extra support, or maybe because there was never a real balance in the first place. When one person in a relationship gives way more energy than the other, that’s called codependency. A little bit of codependency happens in every relationship from time to time, but if it’s the norm, your relationship might be a toxic one. 

What Is Codependency in a Relationship?

How can you tell whether your relationships are healthy or whether you and your friend, family member, or romantic partner have developed a codependent dynamic? If you experience any of the following, you might be the giver in a codependent relationship:

The signs of codependency, according to an article on

  • Having a sense of “walking on eggshells” to avoid conflict with the other person
  • Feeling the need to check in with the other person and/or ask permission to do daily tasks
  • Often being the one who apologizes—even if you have done nothing wrong
  • Feeling sorry for the other person, even when they hurt you
  • Regularly trying to change or rescue troubled, addicted, or under-functioning people whose problems go beyond one person's ability to fix
  • Doing anything for the other person, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable
  • Putting the other person on a pedestal, despite the fact that they don’t merit this position
  • A need for other people to like you in order to feel good about yourself
  • Struggling to find any time for yourself, especially if your free time consistently goes to the other person
  • Feeling as if you’ve lost a sense of yourself within the relationship

—By Wendy Rose Gould, Reviewed by David Susman, PhD

How Does Codependency Show Up?

It’s useful to know general signs of codependency, but sometimes real-life examples are an even more helpful way to identify how certain behaviors and patterns might look in our everyday lives. We asked a few people to share their experiences with us to give you a better idea of how sneaky (or not-so-sneaky) codependency can be.


How have you experienced or witnessed codependency in a relationship?


  • “My partner was a person with epilepsy and would blame me for their seizures, to the point where I felt the need to protect them from themselves when they would neglect their own health. Sometimes, they even made me apologize when they had seizures.”
  • “My mom was in a marriage for sixteen years where the longest amount of time she spent away from her husband was four hours to go shopping with me. They had retired early and spent every moment in the same room.”
  • “I struggle to keep my own identity in relationships. The attachment chemicals are strong. I was in a relationship with an alcoholic for two years who didn't have a job and hid alcohol in the house. I worked two full-time jobs so he would stay with me."
  • “I was codependent with my own mom for my whole childhood. I wish I could be more specific, but I guess an example could be that I always felt like I was ‘on the clock’ to serve her needs only and had to ask permission to go use the bathroom, get a snack, read a book, etc.”
  • “The most codependent thing I have witnessed is the need to control the outcome to be constantly ok. No matter what would happen, no matter how many times Partner One would be late, not show up, show up high, and be super inconsistent, Partner Two would beg and plead to get back to the "good times" because being alone was so much harder. Feeling like you're supposed to endure for your partner when they don't do any actions that warrant that commitment and sacrifice… It's addiction. You get addicted to the happy time, and then when the bad time happens, you're so hooked on the good stuff that you don't care how much pain you go through. Healthy relationships seem boring to people who have a love addiction.”
  • “My mother held down a consistent job and was the primary wage earner for our family, while my dad held inconsistent, sporadic employment for 15-20 years despite being fully able-bodied.”
  • “My best friend and I lived together for six years and once had her former boss ask to speak with me about her returning to work because he knew she wouldn't do it if I wasn't OK with it. Other smaller things like being truly genuinely hurt that she ate dinner and didn't tell me because I was waiting on her, even though we hadn't communicated about it.”

Did any of these examples resonate with you? If so, you’re not alone. There are a lot of reasons codependency develops in relationships, and most of them aren’t our fault. If you’re recognizing a pattern, you’re on the right track! Keep reading to figure out how to overcome codependency.

9 Ways to Reduce Codependency

If you’re here to learn how to fix codependency, we have good news and bad news. The bad news is there’s no easy “fix” when it comes to breaking a behavioral pattern… It's going to take time and practice, practice, practice to establish healthier relationship dynamics. The good news? You can learn how to stop codependency in its tracks. The following list combines recommendations from the folks who shared their stories with us and tips from experts! 

1. Learn what a healthy relationship looks like, invest in people who exhibit those qualities, and practice them in yourself.

2. Talk to the people you feel like you have a codependent dynamic with about maintaining equality, independence, and open, honest, affectionate communication.

3. Prioritize self-care and time alone for personal pursuits. If you don’t tend to your own needs, you won’t be able to be a healthy member of any relationship. Take care of yourself by learning what your needs are, investing in your self-esteem, and showing up for yourself in ways that will make your life better.

4. Find healthy distractions rooted in self-care for when your brain just can't stop telling you you’re not doing enough or when your partner/friend/parent needs space. It can be as simple as something that requires you to pay attention, like video games or a puzzle app, as long as it keeps you from engaging in unhealthy thought patterns.

5. Consider going to therapy. Group therapy, family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and Internal Family Systems (IFS) can all help you realize when and why you're stuck in codependent habits.

6. Redirect yourself when you’re about to ask permission from your partner for something or ask them to do something you don’t need anyone’s permission or help to do (use the restroom, heat up food, buy a snack, etc.). Empower yourself to do those things on your own.

7. Remind yourself that others can communicate their needs, so you do not have to anticipate or get ahead of their feelings by constantly checking in on them. Let them tell you when they need something.

8. Remind yourself you’re allowed to have a range of interests, and they don’t need anyone’s approval to be valid. This can help when you’re worried people may judge you for whatever you’re doing, which is the codependent need for other people to like you in order to feel good about yourself.

9. Set boundaries in the relationships where you see codependent patterns… that could look like making some topics of conversation off-limits, setting a minimum requirement for how much time you spend apart in a given week, or even pursuing different living arrangements.

How to Heal from Codependency

If you’re learning to recognize codependency in your life, take a moment to be proud of yourself. Codependent patterns are often deeply rooted in trauma or have been going on in families for generations. It’s hard work to break that cycle, but it’s worth it! If you’re wondering how your faith can help you on this journey, look no further.

In a codependent relationship, the “giver” is often trying to carry everyone else’s loads, usually to their own detriment. If the “giver” drops the ball on something for themselves, that ball may never get picked back up. If the “giver” drops the ball on something for others, guilt, shame, and fear tell them they’re unworthy of love and connection. What if, instead of carrying everyone else’s burdens, you start taking responsibility for just one person? You and only you. Everyone else is responsible for carrying their own loads.

You might be familiar with the verse in the Bible, Matthew 22:39, which says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Doesn’t that mean we should do everything we possibly can for others? Not quite… giving can be a good thing, sure. But if you are not loving yourself, taking care of yourself, and taking responsibility for yourself… You’re missing half the point of Jesus’ commandment here. If you’re loving others without loving yourself, you’re in danger of slipping into the toxic cycle of constantly giving in hopes that others will fulfill your needs in return.

If you need to talk to someone about how codependency is showing up in your life, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our Hope Coaches! We’re always here to walk beside you, answer questions, and point you toward resources.

Codependency can develop in friendships, dysfunctional families, sexual relationships, and even workplace interactions. A Deep Dive Into Codependent Relationships provides additional information about codependent relationships.

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Emotional Abandonment: What Is It and How Do I Overcome It?

“When a child receives the message, even subtly or indirectly, that his emotions don't matter, he will grow up feeling, somewhere deep inside, that he himself doesn't matter.” ― Jonice Webb

What to Know About Emotional Abandonment

What is emotional abandonment?

Emotional abandonment happens when you feel like your feelings are ignored or simply aren't important to someone who should care about them. Sometimes, we call this emotional neglect, and it can happen in a lot of important relationships… emotional abandonment by parents or another family member, emotional abandonment by husband or wife... No matter which relationship you’re feeling rejected in, that kind of pain can have a lasting impact on how you engage in relationships and how you view yourself. 

If the people who are supposed to care the most about you and prioritize your needs simply don’t, it’s hard to see yourself as important. Neglect almost always leads to poor self-esteem or even self-hatred—a recipe for disaster when it comes to your mental health. So, if you’re feeling abandoned, it’s crucial to learn more, recognize the signs, and take extra good care of yourself.

How do you know if you’re dealing with emotional abandonment?

Some of the most common signs of abandonment issues are:

  • Self-hatred to the point of self-harm or destructive coping behaviors
  • Feeling anxious, insecure, or jealous in your relationships
  • People-pleasing to keep others from disliking you
  • Isolating from people rather than risking connecting with them
  • Getting attached to new relationships too quickly or being overly clingy in relationships
  • Having a hard time trusting people’s intentions toward you
  • Giving so much to your relationships that you’re exhausted or disappointed when others don’t put in the same amount of effort
  • Feeling disconnected, even in your most intimate relationships
  • Waiting for the other shoe to drop, even when a relationship is going well
  • Having a hard time with criticism, even if it’s true or communicated kindly
  • Settling for relationships you know are unhealthy to avoid being alone

Abandonment issues are often at the root of severe behavioral and mental health issues like addiction, whether your feelings of emotional abandonment are because a parent, partner, or sibling struggles with addiction or have led you to turn to addiction to numb your pain. Self-hatred, emotional neglect, and addiction are so often intertwined that it’s a fair guess to say that if there’s addiction in one of your relationships, emotional abandonment is at play.

Childhood emotional neglect or feeling abandoned by your partner can also have a lasting impact on your attachment style. What are attachment styles? Glad you asked! Attachment style theory suggests that our most essential relationships shape how our brains learn to be in relationships. The healthier your earliest and most formative relationships, the more secure your attachment style. Often, someone with a history of addiction, neglect, or abandonment struggles with healthy attachment and might fall into the categories of avoidant, disorganized, ambivalent, or anxious attachment style.

What Does It Look Like to Be Emotionally Abandoned?

“People raised on love see things differently than those raised on survival.”  ― Joy Marino

Emotional abandonment shows up in lots of ways! Do any of these scenarios feel familiar to you?


By the time you were in middle school, you were your mom’s therapist, so you’re really good at listening. You’re the friend everybody calls when they’re going through a hard time, and you love being that friend—you get to help them feel better. You get to feel irreplaceable to their lives. You get to feel important. But once they hang up the phone, you’re alone and you wonder if they’ll ever call you again. You get home from work each day and immediately start thinking of things you can do for other people—make your husband’s favorite thing for dinner, plan a fun day out with the kids, design a cool invitation for your friend's baby shower that takes you hours… but then you realize you haven’t showered in a couple of days, you forgot to actually eat some of that dinner, and you’re going to have to pick up an extra shift to afford that day out.

When our emotional needs are abandoned by the very people who are supposed to teach us how important we are, it’s easy to wind up forgetting about our needs completely. Emotional self-neglect becomes a habit because we’re too busy trying to make sure others never have a reason to abandon us. When we don’t even take time to notice our feelings anymore, we stop caring about our bodies… who has time for a shower or a meal or a walk when those ten minutes could be spent proving our value to the people we’re afraid to lose?


Your sister has gotten into drugs, and your parents are so busy dealing with her that you’re often a second thought, if not completely ignored. Sometimes, your parents even say, “You’re the one we never have to worry about,” which they think is a compliment. But really, they mean you don’t take up too much of their time. You’ve stopped even telling them when you have a home game unless they ask, and you never expect them to care about your grades… As long as you’re not failing or skipping school altogether like your sister does, they probably won’t even notice. 

Every once in a while, this feels like freedom… you can get away with whatever you want to as long as it doesn’t get you in the kind of trouble your sister gets into. As long as it doesn’t require any attention from your parents. 

But most of the time, it just feels like you’re invisible in your own home. If your own parents don’t care whether you’re making A’s or going through a breakup, why should you? Why should anyone? You start to feel small. You begin to feel depressed, hopeless, and like nothing you do is worth noticing. So why do anything? When you stumble upon some of your sister’s stash at home, you wonder if maybe she’s onto something. Maybe taking the edge off your feelings wouldn’t be such a bad idea.


Your dad was a pastor. A good one. His sermons were inspired. He visited every sick church member at the hospital. He grabbed dinner with every new family who joined the congregation. He made people feel loved and excited to worship a God who had given them a beautiful community with a wise, kind leader.

But when you cried because the kitchen ran out of mashed potatoes at the Wednesday night social, your dad got frustrated with you. He told you to be a better example for the other kids and show them how to “be content in all things,” like Paul teaches in Phillippians. When you wanted to see a movie you were particularly excited about, your dad promised to take you, but every time you were supposed to go, something came up at church until eventually the movie wasn’t in theaters anymore. Anytime you got a bad grade or got into trouble at school, your dad freaked out about how this reflected on him as a leader; in other words, you were an embarrassment to him. An inconvenience.

Now that you’ve grown up, the whole concept of church or God leaves you feeling empty. It’s challenging to feel connected spiritually when your feelings have been neglected for so long. Why would you turn to something for support that left you feeling so insignificant growing up? Why would a God who’s “good” stick you with a dad who cared more about hundreds of strangers than his own kid? How could you not hate church? Why care about a God your dad cared more about than you?

How to Deal With Emotional Abandonment

“When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.”  ― Fred Rogers

If any of the scenarios above resonated with you, it’s time to consider facing the pain of emotional abandonment. But how? Where do you even start?

Professional Guidance

If you recognize emotional abandonment symptoms in your life, it’s a good idea to talk to a mental health professional. A licensed therapist can help you figure out whether your fear of abandonment is coming from childhood trauma or one of your more current relationships—they might even recommend couples counseling. If you feel like emotional abandonment has impacted your attachment style, a professional can also help you figure out what yours is. Knowing your attachment style can help you recognize when you’re acting from a place of fear or self-hate, and knowing your loved ones’ attachment styles can help you understand how to relate to them in healthier ways, too.

Caring for Yourself

What’s the opposite of abandonment? Showing up. Being there. Having compassion and holding space for someone’s needs and feelings. You’ve experienced abandonment, and now it’s time to give yourself the opposite.

  • Start paying attention to your physical needs. If you’ve been wearing a bra for the past year with a broken underwire that sticks through the lining and pokes you in the chest, today is the day. Get yourself a new one. If you’re hungry, and you’ve been ignoring it all day because there’s always something more urgent to do... Stop. Eat. Show up for yourself. If you can’t remember the last time you drank water instead of coffee or soda. Find the nearest water fountain, do not pass go, do not collect $200… just drink. Right now. Your physical needs are important.
  • Start advocating for yourself. If something hurts your feelings, say so. If something frustrates you, say so. You don’t have to be a jerk about it, but you do have to prove to yourself that your feelings deserve a voice. This might ruffle a few feathers, but the people who truly love and care for you will stick around. The people who can’t handle you having (gasp!) feelings will reveal themselves pretty quickly.
  • Seek help if you’re struggling with unhealthy coping mechanisms. If you’re struggling with addiction, self-harm, an eating disorder, or another destructive behavior that’s taking a toll on your mental health, well-being, and relationships, it’s time to show up for yourself. Ask for help. There is no shame in recognizing when you’re in too deep, and there are people willing to support you through recovery. 

What’s Faith Got To Do With It?

What we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human.” ― Brené Brown

If you are feeling emotionally abandoned we know it hurts. Thankfully, for those who believe in God, He promises never to leave you or abandon you. There is a verse in the Bible that says:

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

And another verse to give you hope:

For he has said, c“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

What comfort! Do you believe In God? If you do and you feel even God has abandoned you, we invite you to pray these words:

God, why have you abandoned me? And why did you let ________ abandon me?

There is no rule that says a prayer has to come from someone who feels connected to God. You can ask Jesus anything, tell Him anything, shout at him, cry with Him, and none of your feelings will scare Him away. Nothing you’ve done or felt can make Him leave you. When you are afraid of losing the people you love, tell Him. When you are worried that you’ll be rejected for what you have to say, tell Him. You’re never alone. 

If you don’t believe, but would like to learn more about a God who loves you unconditionally and will never leave you, please read this: Try The Solution

TheHopeLine is here for you, too. We’re always around to talk if you need someone to listen without judgment.

Download this free eBook on Abandonment!

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Absent Fatherhood: Finding Male Role Models

It’s not at all uncommon to grow up in a single-parent home. In fact, an estimated 18.3 million American children live without their dad at home—that’s 1 in every 4 kids. 80% of all single-parent homes are led by single moms. If the absence of a father figure in the home is such a universal experience, why does it feel so daunting to find positive male role models who can give you what you’re looking for?

On top of that, what if seeking out male role models makes the incredible women who are working hard to raise you feel like they’re not doing enough? That’s a fair concern, but let’s take a look at how good male role models might be able to help you learn, grow, and feel supported.

How Absent Fathers Impact Their Children

Absence of Fathers: Effects on Sons

You may have heard the term “daddy issues,” usually about girls, but sons can be just as impacted by a lack of relationship with their dads as daughters.

  • Essential Life Skills: When it comes to skills stereotypically taught by men, you may feel like you’re missing out. While your friends may have learned how to tie a tie, how to change the oil in their cars, or how to shave their mustaches from their fathers, you feel like you’re on a learning curve with things like that. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and isolation if you feel too embarrassed to ask for help.
  • Relationship Challenges: You either have no model at home for how a man should interact with other people in his life, or you have a model for how a man shouldn’t treat people. Either way, you sometimes feel like you’re flying by the seat of your pants when it comes to the fundamental values expected of you in your friendships and romantic connections.
  • Poor Sense of Self: You may find yourself looking for guidance, support, and camaraderie anywhere you can. This could look like engaging in high-risk behaviors just to look cool in front of the people you want to impress. A poor sense of self could also result in exhibiting signs of anger issues or unhealthy emotional expression without knowing exactly why, and not having a clear sense of who you are or what you want in life.

Absence of Fathers: Effects on Daughters

Many effects of an absent father look similar regardless of whether you’re a son or daughter, but if you’re a girl growing up without an involved father or if he’s totally absent, see if any of these ring true for you:

  • Self-Esteem Issues: Do you find yourself seeking validation or attention in unhealthy ways? It could be that you’re missing the support you would get from having a solid relationship with a good dad. That doesn’t mean you need to run right out and call up your dad if he’s not a healthy person to invite into your life, but it’s something to be aware of when you notice your self-esteem is low. You can find other ways to give it a boost!
  • Relationship Challenges: Do you struggle with dating and relationships? If you didn’t have anyone around growing up who gave you a good example of what it looked like for a man to treat you with respect and care, it might be tough to imagine what that looks like now. Cut yourself some slack and allow yourself to grow. You may be on a little bit of a learning curve when it comes to healthy relationships, but nobody’s an expert. And remember you are worthy of respect!
  • Higher Risk Behaviors: Girls who grow up without a dad are statistically at higher risk of engaging in risky behaviors, such as early sexual activity and substance abuse. However, there are exceptions to every rule, so don’t panic! Just be mindful of whether you’re making wise decisions or seeking that feeling of belonging and validation in unhealthy ways.

Finding Male Role Models

Now that we know how the lack of a father figure in your life might impact you, let’s look at the importance of having good male role models and where to find them. Having one can help you feel secure, safe, confident, and worthy of positive, healthy relationships with men. It can also provide guidance and perspective you might not otherwise be getting. But where are you supposed to find these elusive male role models if you don’t have the classic “father figure” to turn to at home?

Extended Family

If they’re healthy and safe options, uncles, grandfathers, and cousins can be instrumental sources of support and guidance. Ask to spend time with them!

Community Involvement

Get involved in community programs or organizations that offer mentorships. That could help you connect to men who are interested in the same things as you, which is a great starting point for a positive relationship.

Teachers and Coaches

Male teachers and coaches can serve as mentors and role models, too. If you want a closer relationship with one of yours, try talking to them. It’s important to remember that sometimes teachers and coaches need to stick to boundaries for their jobs to keep relationships with students fair and appropriate, so don’t take it personally if they’re not open to getting closer to you. But if you need advice about something from a male perspective and trust a particular male coach or teacher, don’t be afraid to ask.

Religious Communities

Many of the adults who get involved in religious organizations do so with the specific goal of providing support and mentorship to the youth. If you’re a member at a local church, or even if you’re just visiting one, keep an eye out for men you respect. You may be able to approach them about mentoring you.

Get Creative

Did you know some experts suggest that not all “good male role models” even need to be male? While it’s fantastic to have solid male role models, you can learn a lot about how to “be a man” from women. Watch how your moms, female teachers, and sisters interact with the men in their lives. Do you like or dislike how certain men treat them? Why? On top of that, there are PLENTY of women who can teach you things like how to change the oil in your car or tie a tie. Don’t be afraid to learn things you think you “should” have learned from Dad from someone unexpected.

You can also learn a lot from fictional men—are there any characters in your favorite comics, books, or TV shows who help you to understand how a “good man” behaves? And consider public figures you admire to be role models, too. Though you can’t have a personal relationship with fictional or famous men, you can be intentional about who you follow on social media and who’s worthy of your respect.  Whether you admire Terry Crews, Uncle Iroh, Pedro Pascal, King T'Challa, Tom Hanks, or Samwise Gamgee… ask yourself how they would handle a situation.

There Are Great Guys Out There

The absence of a father, whether it’s due to separation, divorce, or other reasons, may leave you feeling a little bit abandoned and unloved, but don’t lose heart. It doesn’t have to be your biological father who shows up to give you the love and guidance you’ve been longing for. Whether through extended family, community involvement, teachers, coaches, or mentors, you can find decent men out there to be part of your life. Keep an eye out for the ones who are present, treat you and others with kindness and respect, follow through on their commitments, and aren’t afraid to tell you they love you.

If you’re feeling like a fatherless child and aren’t sure what to do, you can always turn to the most famous father figure of all time for a bit of support and comfort. If you want to know more about God’s role as our Heavenly Father, please reach out to one of our Hope Coaches. We’re always here to listen without judgment, and we’d love to connect you with more resources to help you find good male role models.

After childhood abandonment, it’s hard to know how to have good relationships. If you feel abandoned by your father, find out how to build new relationships.

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8 Dating Tips for Confidence, Success, and Joy

Ah, dating… Do we love it? Do we hate it? It’s usually a little bit of both. For some of us, dating can be a thrilling adventure, an opportunity to explore connections and maybe even find love. Flirting is fun! But sometimes dating is a source of anxiety, self-doubt, and uncertainty. What if he doesn’t like me back? What if she thinks I’m weird? What if this relationship goes south like all the other ones? What if I end up alone?

It’s easy to lose sight of the fun parts of dating when the process feels intimidating, exhausting, and high-stakes. But if you’re not enjoying it, it’s going to be hard to show up as your authentic self, ready to genuinely connect with someone. How can you make sure that your dating life is full of confidence, success, and joy? Check out the following tips.

How to Gain Confidence in Dating

1. Believe in Yourself

At the foundation of successful dating is self-esteem. Confidence is attractive, and it begins with recognizing your self-worth. Embrace your uniqueness and understand that you have something valuable to offer in a relationship.

If you’re not sure that’s true, then stop! Put dating on hold for a little while. Explore who you are and work on building your confidence before you go looking for romance. Without a clear idea of your identity, your values, what you want, what you don’t want, and how you deserve to be treated, dating is going to be a lot harder than it needs to be. It’s okay to be single for a while as you figure things out. You need solid ground beneath your feet so that you’re not knocked over by every little setback, heartbreak, and challenge that comes with the process of looking for love.

2. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

To meet new people and have diverse dating experiences, it's crucial to step out of your comfort zone. In other words, you’re not going to find love if you never leave your room, never talk to people you don’t already know, and never try new things. Attend social events, join clubs, or try activities that genuinely interest you. You're more likely to meet like-minded individuals when you're engaged in activities you love.

3. Online Dating Can Be Your Ally

Online dating apps and websites can be intimidating, but they can also be a great tool! If you don’t have access to a lot of social activities, just moved to a new place, or are just looking to meet people outside of your normal circle, dating apps have made all that possible. Even the stigma that “we met online” used to carry has disappeared, and finding your dates on an app is the new normal.

Creating a profile can be a blast! Pick out your favorite (and most recent–no catfishing!) photos of yourself, write a little bit about who you are, and be clear about your intentions. Not everybody on dating apps is looking for the same things, so it’s best to be honest from the get-go. Once you’re confident that your profile accurately reflects who you are, start swiping! It can be a fun way to see who’s out there and to practice having conversations with new people without the stress factor of going on a date.

It’s definitely true that you want to be cautious about safety when it comes to online dating, but the same goes for in-person dating, so don’t let that stop you. Be honest on your profile without giving out your personal information, stick to public places when you’re meeting up with someone you don’t know well, and keep your friends and family in the loop about who you’re seeing and talking to. Be careful, and have fun!

4. Understand Your Deal-Breakers

Knowing your deal-breakers is essential in dating. These are the non-negotiable qualities or behaviors that you cannot tolerate in a potential partner, things that would cause a relationship with someone to not work out well in the long run.

How do you know what your deal-breakers are? Some of us learn them as we go along. Maybe your last girlfriend didn’t respect that you’re a vegetarian, so it’s a deal-breaker from now on if a date tried to pressure you into eating differently. Maybe you’re a Christian, and you’ve always dreamed of finding someone who believes the same things you do, goes to church with you, and prays with you—it’s a deal-breaker, then, if someone you want to date doesn’t want those things, too.

Be mindful of the things you want to remain true about your life as you consider bringing someone new into it. Ask questions about your deal-breakers early on when you’re talking to someone new. That way, you aren’t blindsided by a deal-breaker after you and the other person have already gotten invested in the relationship.

5. Ask Lots of Questions

And listen to the answers! It’s easy to get caught up in the “me, me, me” of dating. Will they like me? Will they think my hobbies are cool? Will they like the way I look? Will they want to see me again? It’s definitely fun when the answer to those questions turns out to be “yes.” Just remember that you’re not the only person on the date. They’re hoping to find someone who likes them too, and you should want to get to know as much about them as you can!

Questions are a great way to show you care, to learn how this person communicates, to discover things you might have in common, to gauge whether there’s chemistry, etc. If you’re on a date and realize you’ve been doing all the talking, take a breath. Ask some questions, and let the other person show you who they are.

6. Red Flags Are Real

Learn to recognize and acknowledge red flags in a potential partner. Similar to deal-breakers, these are warning signs that indicate potential problems in the relationship.

Some red flags might vary from person to person. For example, while it may be a deal-breaker to some for a date to question your dietary preferences, for others it may just be a red flag. When something like that comes up, stop and address it in the moment. Don’t be afraid to ask, “Why did you say that?” If your date explains that they didn’t mean to offend you and that it won’t happen again, you may choose to continue dating them for now. If they double down and explain why they think the way you eat is stupid, you may have just learned that this person doesn’t know how to respect others. Not cute.

Other red flags are pretty universal: treating baristas, waiters, cashiers, or rideshare drivers like crap; bullying friends or family; abusive behavior of any kind; refusing to take responsibility or apologize, etc. It's crucial that you address red flags with someone you’re thinking of getting into a relationship with. Prioritize your well-being—if this person were to continue this behavior once you’re in a relationship, will you be happy in the end?

Trust your gut. If something doesn't feel right or makes you uncomfortable, pay attention to that feeling. Even if you can’t explain exactly why, you’re allowed to remove yourself from a situation that doesn’t make you feel safe, valued, or excited. Your instincts are there for a reason—they can protect you from potential harm and guide you away from unhealthy relationships.

7. Don’t Take Rejection Personally

Don’t BE a red flag. Understand that everyone else has the same rights as you do when it comes to the dating world. You may feel a connection with someone and think things are going well, but if they tell you that they aren’t feeling it, they aren’t obligated to continue seeing you. Period. Instead of getting angry or defensive, recognize that rejection is part of the process. They don’t owe you an explanation for wanting to step away, and you don’t need to try to prove to them that you’re a good person or that they’re making a mistake. Be polite. Say “Thank you for your time and good luck.” Then take a moment to feel disappointed, lean on family and friends for support, and gather up the courage to get back out there!

8. Don't Aim for Perfection

No one is perfect, and expecting perfection from yourself or a potential partner can lead to unrealistic expectations. Embrace imperfections as part of the beauty of human connection. It's the quirks that make people interesting!

He’s kind, funny, and enjoys the same kinds of nerdy things as you do… but he hates cheese with a burning passion? Get over it! More cheese for you! You can laugh about how different you are at the same time as you enjoy playing board games.

She’s got a great laugh, bakes a mean chocolate chip cookie, and shows up to your first date wearing a t-shirt from your favorite band of all time… but she’s a cat person? Get over it! You’re dating the human, not the cat. You don’t have to trade in your “dog dad” beanie—you just have to appreciate that she’s going to send you 3-17 cat videos per day. It’s endearing.

You’ve had a rough day, and after a week of feeling excited for your date tonight, you’re not up for it anymore? Cut yourself some slack! If you’ve been dating this person for a while, see if they’d be okay with a last-minute change of plans—movies and popcorn on the couch. If you’re not there yet, just politely communicate that you need to reschedule. The right kind of person will understand completely, not pressure you or make you feel guilty for having needs.

Perfection is unattainable. You can’t realistically expect it of yourself or anyone else, so understand that not every date will go the way you thought, and not every date leads to a long-term relationship. Be flexible, be kind, and look for the fun of the dating process.

In the world of dating, confidence is your best friend. If you can find a way to embrace who you are, rather than what others think you should be, your dates will notice. Show up as yourself and for yourself, and remember that the point of dating is connection. Believing that you’re worthy of that connection and that everyone you date is too, will help you stay focused on the beauty, joy, and fun over the fear, awkwardness, and emotional effort.

If you’re struggling to find hope that your dating life can look different, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our Hope Coaches. We’re always here to listen without judgment and encourage you when you’re feeling down. We believe that everyone is worthy of love and connection, and we’d love to walk alongside you as you discover how that includes you.

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What Are the Qualities of a Good Reputation, and How Can You Achieve Them?

To understand how to build a good reputation, you first need to know what a “reputation” is. Is it what others think of you? Is it what you think of yourself? Is it important or not? Is someone’s reputation who they really are? Can someone with a lousy reputation be a good person? Can someone with a good reputation be a bad person? If you have a bad reputation, can you ever recover, or will it be set in stone forever?

A helpful way to think about reputation is that:

  • How we see ourselves = our identity.
  • How others see us = our reputation.

It’s pretty common, about 50/50, for the two perceptions not to match up. You know that guy at school nobody can stand? Doesn’t he think he’s pretty great? That’s an example of his self-perception not lining up with how others perceive him and his personality. Understanding the difference can be useful when it comes to learning about yourself, having empathy for others, and navigating the often muddy waters of reputation.

How to Gain a Good Reputation

Qualities of a Good Reputation

What does make for a good reputation?

  • A solid reputation is built on trust. Trustworthiness involves keeping promises and being true to your word.
  • Consistency in behavior and actions also reinforces a positive reputation. People are more likely to trust and respect people who show that they’re reliable rather than unpredictable.
  • Demonstrating empathy and kindness lets people know you’re an approachable, down-to-earth person who values the feelings of others.
  • Treating people with basic respect, regardless of their position or background, reflects well on you and makes it more likely that you’ll be treated with respect in return.
  • Exhibiting competence and effort in what you do can also establish a positive reputation. It shows others that you care enough to pay attention and develop skills rather than expecting everyone around you to pull your weight.
  • The ability to adapt and be flexible when circumstances change showcases your resilience and resourcefulness, which makes you a person others feel like they can depend on when times are challenging.

Do's and Don'ts for Building a Good Reputation


1. Do what you say you’ll do. In other words, don’t just “talk the talk.” You have to “walk the walk.” Make sure your actions align with your words and your values. If you tell a teacher you want to improve your grade, show up and do the work. If you ask someone on a date, follow through on making plans and treating them well. When your words and actions line up with each other, others will respect that.

2. Own your mistakes. None of us are perfect, and that doesn’t have to mean your reputation is tarnished forever! Instead, admit it. When you fall short or fail, address it as soon as you realize it. Acknowledge that you messed up and want to do better in the future. That kind of honesty will go a long way in the eyes of others.

3. Listen as much as (or more than) you talk. Since reputation is a lot about how others feel around you, consider how your behavior impacts their experience. If you’re so busy talking to prove that you’re smart, nervous, kind, or cool, when will they have a chance to shine? When will you have a chance to learn? Listening to the people around you is critical to building a good reputation.

4. Do what you can to help others. Life is not a competition. If someone you know is trying to get an A on a test or get a new job, why not help them study or talk them up to your boss? Just like you would appreciate their help if you needed it, it’ll mean a lot to people when you help them reach their goals.

5. Build and nurture positive relationships with peers, colleagues, and mentors. Surround yourself with individuals who inspire and uplift you. They say you can tell a lot about someone by looking at who their friend group is, so make sure you’re investing your time in the kinds of people you want to be associated with.

6. Practice humility. Acknowledge where you still have a lot to learn. Nobody in the world knows everything, and nobody lives in a vacuum. You wouldn’t be where you are today without the help of others, and there will always be areas where you can grow.

7. Give back. Challenge yourself to do acts of kindness and get involved in your community. Volunteer your time or skills to causes you believe in. Sure, this will make you “look good” when it comes to your reputation, but it will also help you remember that it’s just as important, if not more, to give than it is to take.


1. Don't bail on your promises to yourself or others. If you told yourself you would drink more water, do it. If you told your friends you’d be somewhere at a specific time, do your absolute best to be there. If you develop a habit of failing yourself and others, not only will your reputation start to take a hit, but your self-image might as well.

2. Don't dodge accountability. If you’re struggling to accomplish something you said you’d do, communicate that, apologize, and work out a plan to get back on track. If someone calls you out for making a mistake, take a deep breath and be honest. If you want to build a solid reputation, you don’t want to be the person who refuses to acknowledge when they’re wrong.

3. Don't ignore feedback. Listen, listen, listen. It can be hard to hear when others tell you that you have things to work on, but we all have things to work on. Constructive feedback can be really useful and even teach you a few things if you’re willing to be open instead of shutting it down. Getting feedback can be uncomfortable, but people will notice if you become the kind of person who refuses to grow and change.

4. Don’t make things harder for others. You are not the only person trying to make it through the day. If you’ve got too much on your plate, communicate that and ask for help, but don’t expect others to magically pick up your slack. If you don’t take out the trash like you’re supposed to, that means someone you live with has to stop what they’re doing to take care of it. If you turn in your section of the group project late or do it poorly, someone in your group has to stay up that night before it’s due to fix it or gets stuck with a lousy grade. Do your part.

5. Don't talk badly about others. Gossip is fun, easy, and feels like a bonding activity. But as much as you might think you’re developing a rapport with someone, you’re also letting them know that you might be capable of trash-talking them when they’re not around. Treat others with respect and kindness, even in their absence. And a friendly reminder: if one of your buddies is happy to trash-talk others with you, ask yourself whether they’re also trash-talking you.

6. Don't act like you know everything. You don’t. Some of the wisest people in the history of this world say things like, “The more I know, the more I know I don’t know.” If you balk at every opportunity to learn, or if you walk around like you’re always the smartest person in the room, people will take notice. Do you want to be someone who’s known for their closed-minded arrogance, or do you want to have a reputation for being humble and open to new things?

Is it Possible to Change Your Reputation?

Yes! Redemption arcs are some of the most popular stories in the world because we love to see someone turn their life around. Think Steve from Stranger Things, Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol… Some of our favorite characters are people who had a terrible reputation only to transform into kind, brave heroes. If you’re wondering how to change your bad reputation, it’s not impossible. Take an honest look at how you’ve gotten to this place, and start making changes today. It might take some time, but people will recognize that you’re changing.

If you’re looking for support and inspiration, redemption is the entire point of Jesus’ message. He believed that even those with the worst reputations—tax collectors, shepherds, lepers, and prostitutes—were worthy of his time, attention, care, and love. Because of his kindness, Mary Magdalene went from being shunned by society to one of the Bible's most famous, faithful women. If you’d like to talk about more ways Jesus’ life can teach you about change, or if you’re not sure where to start working on your reputation, please reach out to one of our Hope Coaches. We’re always here to listen without judgment, no matter what’s on your mind!

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How Can You Combat Sex Trafficking in Your Community?

January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month! Did you know there are an estimated 50 million trafficked and enslaved people throughout our world?

Human trafficking comes in many forms: labor trafficking, sex trafficking, child trafficking, debt bondage, forced labor, forced marriage, organ trafficking, etc. “Trafficking” is anything that involves the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of people through force or deception to make money. Of all the forms human trafficking can take, sex trafficking impacts almost half of the total estimated trafficked people in our world… that’s around 25 million. And it’s happening around you, whether you recognize it or not.

Sex trafficking isn’t always apparent, and those who are involved may be deceived or manipulated into not wanting out of the vicious cycle. That’s why it’s crucial to learn what you can about trafficking, how to recognize it, and what you can do to help.

How to Combat Sex Trafficking

Understanding Sex Trafficking: What Is It?

When you think about human trafficking, you may assume that it’s not happening here—it’s happening far away, in other countries, right? Wrong. Several common assumptions about sex trafficking are myths, not facts. For example:

  • Myth: The United States and its citizens are safe from dangers like human trafficking.
  • Fact: The National Human Trafficking Hotline records upwards of 50,000 reports of suspected sex trafficking each year, and estimates indicate that number doesn’t come close to touching how many people are trapped in these situations because victims are hesitant to report, and it’s difficult to prosecute traffickers. 
  • Myth: Sex trafficking only happens between strangers.
  • Fact: The majority of sex trafficking involves family members, friends, or intimate partners, which further complicates the victim's ability to recognize their situation and their willingness to make a report. 
  • Myth: Only women are victims of sex trafficking.
  • Fact: Some studies suggest that at least half of trafficking victims are male, and members of the LGBTQ+ community are increasingly vulnerable to sexual exploitation.
  • Myth: Sex trafficking is easy to recognize because it’s violent and victims are physically unable to leave their situation.
  • Fact: While a sex trafficking situation can involve a kidnapping or the use of physical force, the majority of cases occur when a trafficker uses manipulation or psychological methods. They trick, defraud, or threaten their victims into providing sex for money, making it look like the victim is a willing participant.

Sex trafficking is any instance in which a person is made to perform commercial sex acts by force, fraud, or coercion. If the victim is under 18, any commercial sex is deemed trafficking, regardless of whether there’s evidence of force, fraud, or coercion. Sex trafficking can happen anywhere, but common sites include fake massage businesses, escort services, residential brothels, in public on city streets and truck stops, strip clubs, hostess clubs, hotels and motels, illicit pornography, homeless and domestic violence shelters, etc. It’s a pervasive crime that’s not always easy to spot, so what, if anything, can you do about it?

Recognizing Signs of Sex Trafficking: Red Flags to Look For

Common Sex Trafficking Red Flags

  • They want to stop participating in selling or trading sex but feel scared or unable to leave.
  • They disclose that they were reluctant to engage in selling sex but that someone pressured them into it.
  • They live where they work or are transported by guards between home and workplace.
  • They are children who live with or are supported by or dependent on a family member with a substance abuse problem or who is abusive in other ways.
  • They have a pimp or manager in the sex trade.
  • They work in an industry where it may be common to be pressured into performing sex acts for money, such as a strip club, illicit cantina, go-go bar, or illicit massage business.
  • They have an older or simply controlling parent, guardian, romantic partner, or “sponsor” who will not allow you to meet or speak with the person alone or monitors their movements, spending, and/or communications.

—Polaris Project

How to Help Sex Trafficking Victims: A Proactive Approach

There are several ways you can be more involved in spotting and supporting victims of human trafficking:

  • If you suspect that someone may be a victim of human trafficking, report it to the authorities or a trusted organization that can help. The number for the National Human Trafficking Hotline is 1-888-373-7888, or text *233722).
  • Stay informed about the signs of sex trafficking and educate your community. Awareness is a powerful tool in preventing and addressing this crime.
  • Support anti-trafficking organizations. These organizations provide support to victims and work on prevention and advocacy. Contribute money or volunteer your time.
  • Be a vigilant observer. Pay attention to your surroundings. If you notice something suspicious, report it to law enforcement or local authorities.
  • Support victims with compassion. If you encounter someone you suspect is a trafficking victim, approach them with compassion. Provide information about available resources and encourage them to seek help.
  • Advocate for policy changes. Support policies that strengthen anti-trafficking measures. Encourage your local representatives to prioritize legislation that addresses sex trafficking.
  • Engage with law enforcement. Collaborate with law enforcement agencies to stay informed about their efforts in combatting sex trafficking. Report any information that could aid in their investigations.
  • Offer safe spaces. Create safe spaces within your community where victims can seek help without fear of retribution—partner with local businesses, healthcare providers, and community centers to establish these havens.
  • Foster community awareness. Organize workshops, seminars, or awareness campaigns within your community to foster understanding and recognition of sex trafficking signs.

It is possible for you to make an impact on the human trafficking epidemic. Know your facts and help debunk common myths. Be aware of your surroundings and the resources available in your community. Together, we can work toward eliminating sex trafficking and supporting its victims.

A Collective Effort Against Sex Trafficking

Call to action:

  • Have empathy.
  • Be vigilant.
  • Advocate for change.
  • Champion for those who need our help the most.
  • Commit to creating a society where exploitation is no longer tolerated.

Luke 4:18 says that Jesus was sent to “proclaim release to the captives, [recover] sight to the blind, [and] set at liberty them that are bruised.” As Christians and as human beings with the divine love of God in our hearts, it’s time for us to step up and find ways to contribute to the efforts of those who are actively working to free people from human trafficking. If you suspect someone you know is involved in a human trafficking situation, or if you want to learn more about how you can help, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our Hope Coaches.

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Different Types of Rest and Why They Matter

Contrary to popular belief, you cannot, in fact, sleep when you’re dead. The truth is that without good sleep, your life will be considerably shorter, since research shows that sleep deprivation can shorten your lifespan. So all that work and fun you’re trying to cram in by cutting sleep? It’ll still be there after a good night’s rest… promise. Without rest, you can’t enjoy much anyway. The toll it takes on your mental health to go without rest is all too real.

From burnout to mood changes to higher blood pressure and the risk of impulsive behavior such as substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts, a lack of rest can have a serious impact on us. Sleep is crucial to our well-being, but there are seven different types of rest we need to stay in good health. If that sounds like seven new things to add to your already too-long to-do list, take a deep breath. We’ll give you some ideas for how to start incorporating all kinds of rest into your busy schedule.

The 7 Types of Rest

There are so many ways in which you can become tired or burned out, so it makes sense that there are multiple ways you can rest and recover! Think about it: if you took a final exam, would you choose to rest afterward by starting on your summer reading list? Or would you prefer to head home, put on some comfy clothes, and catch up on the shows you missed while you were studying? The kind of rest you need, depends on the kind of tired you are, and sleep isn’t always necessarily the most effective form of rest.  Check out the seven kinds of rest below—do you already engage in some of these? Did you even know you were resting?

1. Physical Rest

Your body does a lot. From the muscles that keep you upright to the nervous system that keeps all your vital organs functional without you even thinking about it, you are physically always on the go. That’s why your sleep schedule and the quality of your sleep are so important. Without it, your brain can’t repair itself each night to keep things running smoothly tomorrow. But sleep isn’t the only way to take care of a tired body.

Exercise can be the answer when your body is tired of sitting at a desk all day or being on your feet for a work shift. Your muscles get achy after being used repetitively, and stretching can be an important way to help them rest and recover properly. A healthy snack, massage, a warm bath, plenty of fluids, etc. Anything that gives your body the nourishment and care it needs to function properly is facilitating physical rest.

Try this: pretending you have the flu. What does someone with the flu need? Vitamins, fruit, tea, soup, gentle walks, steam, deep breathing, pajamas, bed and a book or a good movie before going to sleep early. Have a “flu night” this week and give your body some rest.

2. Mental Rest

Why is rest important for mental health? No battery can last forever. Are you as good at math in the afternoons as you are in the mornings? If so, you’re amazing, but if you find yourself daydreaming more in your afternoon classes or after a particularly tough week, that may be because you’re mentally fatigued. Focusing on tasks and doing them well requires a lot of mental energy, and that energy has to be replenished with mental rest.

Mental rest can look like changing up the activity you’re focused on or it can look like taking a total mental break. Unburdening your mind by emptying all of your thoughts into a to-do list or a journal can be a huge act of rest… try giving yourself “time off” from managing everything by letting a page in your notebook hold onto all your thoughts for a few minutes or even a few days. Meeting regularly with a licensed therapist can also be a great way to keep your mind clear and help you stay aware of how your mental health is doing.

Try this: researching something fun that’s not required. If you’ve been studying for hours or just got home from a tough work shift, give yourself permission to fall all the way down into a rabbit hole looking into that thing that popped into your head randomly this morning. Sometimes the mind just needs to switch gears to feel reinvigorated. Where does the phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” come from, anyway?

3. Social Rest

If you’re an introvert, you’re already sold on the idea of social rest. But calling all extroverts… you need it too. We each use up a unique combination of our faculties when we socialize vs. when we’re alone. If you’re the type of person who feels rested and energized after spending time with family and friends, make sure you take some time for yourself now and then. If you prefer your own company, you need to prioritize spending time with others routinely. It’s all about balance with this kind of rest.

Try this: ask a friend to coffee with a book. This is low pressure for both the introverts and the extroverts. You can sip your drink, chat with your friend on and off, and read your books together. Hopefully, being together as you both rest and enjoy the time will be restorative.

4. Spiritual Rest

What is spiritual rest? The answer to that lies in another question: What is spiritual burnout? We are created to crave a sense of community, belonging, passion, and purpose. When you aren’t feeling those things, or when you’ve been pouring those things into the lives of others without refilling your own cup, you might need to replenish your store of spiritual energy.

Try this: nature and music. If you’re feeling spiritually depleted, hopeless, or nothing seems “good,” it’s time to surround yourself with something you think is beautiful. Go on a hike to a beautiful view and blast your favorite music while you do. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting."

5. Sensory Rest

The five senses are constantly at work helping us navigate the world. It makes perfect sense that they would need a break now and again. Think about how amazing it feels to step into a warm room after being outside in the cold. How about the feeling of putting on sunglasses when the sun is shining in your eyes? How delicious does your favorite food taste when you haven’t had it in a while? But what about the feeling that you can’t breathe when the concert you’ve been enjoying goes on for just a bit too long? The feeling that your clothes are too tight when you’re overheated? The way a smell can remind you of a bad memory and ruin your day? Pay attention to where you might be feeling sensory overload or exhaustion and look for ways to rest that are specific to your needs.

Try this: ice, earplugs, baths, and candles. When your senses are exhausted, give them a reset by changing things up. Shock your system with a super cold drink, put in earplugs or wear noise-canceling headphones to reduce the amount of auditory input you’re getting, take a bath and focus on how it feels for your body to be submerged under the water, and light candles so you can turn out all the artificial lights (including screens *ahem*) and give your eyes a break for the evening.

6. Emotional Rest

Life is a rollercoaster. In the span of two minutes, we can get a cute “good morning” text from our crush, take a bite of burned toast, choke on our coffee, trip on an uneven sidewalk, spill everything we’re carrying, and then get an email that we got the scholarship or made the team. That’s a lot of feelings to feel. The best way to know if you’re in need of emotional rest is to take notice of emotional changes. Have you stopped enjoying something you used to? Have you been short-tempered or crying more easily than usual? As with mental health, it’s a good idea to meet regularly with a licensed therapist who can help you learn how to manage your emotional health, including ways you can find emotional rest.

Try this: a day of favorites. Wear your favorite clothes, talk to your favorite people (and pets!), eat your favorite foods, and go to your favorite places. Treating yourself to things you enjoy makes you feel good! That’s a much needed act of rest in the midst of a life that often has our emotions working overtime.

7. Creative Rest

Creative burnout is a tough hole to dig yourself out of, so stay on top of creative rest and avoid that in the first place. Especially if you’re in a creative industry, it’s important to stay connected to why you started creating art in the first place. If you’ve only been practicing the music for an upcoming show or concert, take a break and play something easy or something you just love… let yourself enjoy that creative time without the pressure of performance.

Creative rest can also help with mental, spiritual, and emotional health in many cases. When you’re feeling low, sign up for a pottery painting class. When you’re struggling with a homework assignment, take a break and bake something you haven’t made before. If you’re looking for hope, rearrange all the books on your shelf by color, and allow yourself to enjoy the simple pleasure of how cool it looks. Creating something helps you feel capable, proud, and at ease when you allow yourself the time to do it in a restful way.

Try this: making special playlists for very specific situations. You know that weird feeling you’re forgetting something important? Make a playlist for it. That awkward 45-minute break you have between school and work? Make a playlist for it. Those mornings when you’re running too late to stop for your iced latte? Make a playlist.

Rest can look different for you than it looks for anyone else, and it’s important to note that one activity may serve as multiple kinds of rest for you! If you enjoy taking bubble baths in candlelight while listening to music, that could be fulfilling the categories of mental rest, social rest, physical rest, sensory rest, and emotional rest all at once. On the other hand, maybe it takes a lot of mental effort for you to take a shower, so choosing that activity of physical rest for yourself may mean you have to spend a bit of time on mental rest afterward. It’s a careful balance that you can play with as you learn your unique self-care needs. Think about how you can build more types of rest into your life, starting today.

How Can Your Faith Help You Rest?

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.

—Genesis 2:2

One of the very first things God does in the Bible is rest, and later He commands us to do the same in honor of His seventh day of rest. It’s called “Sabbath,” and though some denominations still observe it, it may not be a big part of your personal religious practice. Traditionally, the Sabbath started as an entire day, during which the Israelites were commanded to do no work, even to the point that they were supposed to make all their food the day before—#mealprep, anyone? It may not be feasible these days to build a whole day of rest into your weekly schedule, but what about one per month? What about a restful morning, afternoon, or evening each week? Even an hour of “sabbath” could be a useful way to use your faith to build more rest into your life.

Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.

—Matthew 8:24

Jesus knew His body needed sleep, even and especially in times of crisis. The story goes that Jesus’ disciples woke Him up from this nap, and He calmed the storm with his words. Can you imagine being calm on a fishing boat being rocked by a storm? It’s a lot easier to do when you’re well-rested…

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

—Matthew 11:28

If life is starting to feel overwhelming, and you don’t even know how to start resting, lean into your faith and ask Jesus for help. Pray. Ask Him to give you rest, whether that means helping you fall asleep in the face of insomnia or helping you find the right doctor or therapist to treat a sleep disorder or build healthy coping skills.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

—Mark 6:31

Jesus is mostly surrounded by people who need things from Him in the stories we read in the Bible, but He’s also very intentional about taking time alone and encouraging others to do the same. Try to be mindful of when it’s time for you to step away and have some quiet time to yourself. FOMO is real, but be wary of keeping yourself so busy that you get burned out.

If you want to chat more about how your faith can help you rest, or need help finding resources and mental health help, please chat with one of our Hope Coaches today. We’re here to listen without judgment and will do all we can to meet you where you are.

For more on self-care, watch this video: "What Is Self-Care and Why Is It Important?".

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What Is Trauma and What Can It Do to Your Daily Life?

The truth is, most of us have experienced trauma at some point in our lives, but what does that actually mean? The more our culture accepts the importance of good mental health, the more and more you’ve probably heard the word “trauma.” Maybe you’ve heard of “little t” trauma vs. “capital T” Trauma. Maybe you’ve heard of childhood trauma. Maybe you’ve heard about medical trauma, collective trauma, racial trauma, sexual trauma, or any number of terms that all seem to mean something different. It can get confusing!

So… What is considered trauma? Have you experienced it, how is it impacting you, and what can you do about it? Keep reading.

What to Know About Trauma

What Is Trauma?

According to Dr. Matthew Tull of VeryWellMind, the word “trauma” refers to “any type of distressing event or experience that can have an impact on a person's ability to cope and function. Trauma can result in emotional, physical, and psychological harm.” While it is possible to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of traumatic experiences, not everyone who goes through a trauma will. That said, a lot of the common symptoms of PTSD are perfectly normal reactions in the immediate aftermath of traumatic events, so if you’re noticing those signs in yourself or someone you love, it may not necessarily be PTSD. It’s always a good idea to chat with a mental health professional when you’ve experienced something traumatic, and it’s important not to jump to any conclusions or engage in self-diagnosis.

Trauma looks different for everyone, so ultimately, any kind of extreme or stressful experience can be a trauma if it impacts you that way, but the following are some common traumatic events that you may recognize:

  • Any kind of abuse
  • Any kind of assault
  • Any kind of accident
  • Any kind of violence
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Loss of a job or home
  • Poverty
  • Imprisonment
  • Natural disasters
  • Serious illness or injury
  • Witnessing any of the above

It’s also important to note that while a car accident would be a singular traumatic event, other traumatic experiences, like poverty or abusive relationships, are prolonged. If you’re being emotionally abused, for example, it can be hard to pinpoint precise instances of trauma because that relationship has been so toxic for so long. In the end, any kind of trauma can result in life-changing impacts on your mental, emotional, and physical health.

How Does Trauma Affect Everyday Life?

The effects of trauma can look different for everyone and vary depending on what kind of trauma you experienced. For instance, the impact of a car accident may be that you experience physical symptoms like broken bones or chronic pain. Another person may not be physically injured in the same car accident, but they could develop a strong emotional response to driving or riding in a vehicle that makes travel or employment difficult for them.

Here are some other examples of how trauma can affect you on a daily basis:

  • Intrusive thoughts. You may find that you are consistently and “randomly” reminded of your trauma. This can look like having memories of the trauma when you run into a certain person, go to a certain place, or are reminded in some way of what you went through. It can be difficult to get your brain to “change the channel” on an intrusive thought or memory once it’s there.
  • Hypervigilance. You may not feel as safe as you did before the trauma. Even if you are safe, you might not be able to help being extra aware of your environment or constantly scanning for potential danger or risk. This is your brain’s way of trying to help you feel safer after the traumatic event.
  • Hyperarousal. If you feel anxious, afraid, or tense after a traumatic event, that’s because your body is trying to stay ready to leap into action in case another traumatic event occurs. This can look like jumping out of your skin when a car backfires, or not being able to sleep through the usual nighttime sounds in your environment. 
  • Fatigue. Your brain and body have been through something huge, and it takes up a lot of energy to heal, especially if you’re dealing with illness, injury, sleep difficulties, and the above hypervigilance and hyperarousal. It makes perfect sense that you’d be mentally, physically, emotionally, and even spiritually exhausted in the wake of trauma.
  • Mental and emotional challenges. From anxiety and depression to cognitive issues like impaired memory or inability to focus, trauma can significantly impact how your brain works. You may struggle to regulate your emotions, deal with low self-esteem, or find it difficult to keep up in school or at work.
  • Relationship issues. Depending on what kind of trauma you experienced, you may find it difficult to set healthy boundaries, develop trust, or navigate loving relationships without fearing abandonment, self-sabotaging, or falling into toxic patterns.

Remember, a certain level of emotional distress during or after a traumatic event is a perfectly normal reaction to this kind of experience. Nothing is “abnormal” about you if you’re struggling to cope in the wake of going through something big. Always seek the opinion of a licensed therapist or talk to your doctor if you think you’ve experienced trauma or have PTSD.

How to Overcome Trauma

Coping with trauma in the long term takes a fair amount of effort. Is it fair that after going through a trauma you should also have to work so hard to feel healthy and whole? No! But the good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. Nothing can change the past, but there is an abundance of research out there now when it comes to trauma and recovery—take heart. There’s so much you can try to improve your life:

  • Therapy, therapy, therapy. Some of us come from cultures where seeing a mental health professional is viewed with incredible stigma, so it may sound scary even to consider talking to someone. However, avoiding your emotions in the wake of trauma may increase your chances of developing PTSD down the line, and trauma-informed therapy can help you in many ways. It’s been shown to reduce feelings of fear, and it can also help you learn to trust others and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Look for a licensed therapist who has experience working with patients who have experienced similar trauma to yours, and give yourself the gift of support.
  • Practice the “Post-traumatic Growth” mindset. We spend a lot of time dwelling on the negative ways that trauma shapes our lives. It’s important to validate that what you’ve been through was awful, and that the recovery process is hard. But it’s also true that incredible growth can happen after trauma. When you’re feeling discouraged, remind yourself of what you’re working toward and how far you’ve come. No step forward is too small.

Now for the “you’re not alone” part. The Bible says that God “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Trauma is devastating, but you can heal. God desires that for you. If you need to talk to someone right now, either about your trauma or about God’s healing love, please reach out to one of our Hope Coaches. We will always listen to what you’re going through without judgment, and we can connect you to resources that provide additional support and education about mental health.

To find out more about PTSD, read our blog, PTSD Awareness: 9 Steps to Take if You Keep Reliving the Trauma.

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Is My Anxiety Real and How Can I Fix It?

If you’re doubting whether your anxiety is real, it might be helpful to remind yourself that anxiety impacts every single person on our planet, regardless of age, gender, or background. When you experience healthy anxiety, it’s just your brain’s natural and helpful way of letting you know that something needs urgent attention. It’s normal to feel anxiety in certain circumstances—if you’re in danger, for example. If you’re feeling anxious constantly, however, and it’s taking a toll on your everyday life, that’s when it might be worth exploring whether your anxiety has become a mental health issue.

What to Know About Anxiety

Understanding Anxiety: Is It Real?

Anxiety is undoubtedly real! It is a well-documented mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder, are recognized by medical professionals and are included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). If you or someone you know is questioning whether your anxiety is valid, rest assured: it is. Talk to your doctor or consult with a licensed therapist to see whether or not the anxiety you’re experiencing is normal or whether it’s developed into something more.

Symptoms of Anxiety: What to Look For

Anxiety is undoubtedly real! It is a well-documented mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder, are recognized by medical professionals and are included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). If you or someone you know is questioning whether your anxiety is valid, rest assured: it is. Talk to your doctor or consult with a licensed therapist to see whether or not the anxiety you’re experiencing is normal or whether it’s developed into something more.

Symptoms of Anxiety: What to Look For

Anxiety symptoms can vary from person to person, but there are common signs to watch out for. If you're questioning whether your anxiety is real, consider whether you've been experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Persistent, excessive worrying about everyday concerns or events, and not being able to control or stop the worrying.
  • Feeling constantly on edge or restless, making it difficult to relax.
  • Feeling tired and lacking energy, even without physical exertion.
  • Becoming easily irritable or agitated, sometimes without apparent cause.
  • Suffering from muscle tension, which can lead to aches and pains.
  • Experiencing difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or having restorative sleep.
  • Encountering physical symptoms like increased heart rate, shortness of breath, and digestive issues.
  • Avoiding situations or places that trigger anxiety, to the point that it limits your daily activities.

If any of these sound familiar, and you’ve been experiencing symptoms frequently, it sounds like your anxiety has started to impact your life. Consider talking to your doctor about how you can get some relief.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions famous for causing excessive, persistent worry, fear, and unease. These disorders can severely impact your daily life, emotional well-being, and physical health. Here are some of the most common types of anxiety disorders:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
    • GAD is marked by chronic and excessive worrying about a wide range of issues, including health, finances, and relationships… anything and everything! People with GAD often struggle to control their fears and experience physical symptoms such as muscle tension and restlessness.
  • Panic Disorder
    •  Individuals with panic disorder suffer from recurrent, unexpected panic attacks. Panic attacks are episodes that involve intense fear and physical symptoms like a racing heart, sweating, and shortness of breath. The fear of experiencing another panic attack can also lead to avoidance behaviors, which could be limiting to your daily life.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
    • Social anxiety, or social phobia, centers around an intense fear of social situations and being judged by others. This could look like you are avoiding social interactions which would severely hinder your ability to lead a fulfilling life.
  • Specific Phobias
    • This type of anxiety disorder involves an irrational and intense fear of a specific object or situation, like heights, flying, spiders, or needles. When exposed to their phobia, individuals may experience severe anxiety or panic attacks.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
    • OCD combines obsessions (intrusive, distressing thoughts) and compulsions (repetitive behaviors or mental acts) that are supposed to reduce the anxiety related to the obsessions. Compulsive rituals can be time-consuming and disruptive to daily life.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
    • PTSD occurs after exposure to a traumatic event. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety. People with PTSD may also avoid reminders of the trauma, avoiding situations or places that could trigger a panic attack.
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder
    • This type of anxiety is often associated with children, but it can affect adults too. It looks like excessive worry about being separated from attachment figures or places, like leaving the house or going somewhere without your mom. Eventually, that kind of limitation leads to significant distress and disrupts your life.

Understanding these disorders might help you recognize the specific ways your anxiety is manifesting so that you can seek the right kind of treatment and support. It’s important to remember, though, that while you may have a pretty good idea of what’s going on, you should always chat with a doctor or licensed therapist about a diagnosis.

Dealing with Anxiety: How to Fix It

So, yes, your anxiety is real, but how do you fix it? Thankfully, there are quite a few effective strategies for dealing with anxiety! It's crucial to remember that while anxiety can be challenging, there are practical steps you can take to manage it and improve your mental health:

  • Seek Professional Help
    • Consulting a licensed mental health professional, such as a therapist or psychiatrist, is one of the most effective ways to address anxiety. They can provide you with a diagnosis, treatment options, and coping strategies tailored to your specific needs. That could look like going to therapy or taking medication, but everyone’s situation is different, and your doctor can help you decide what fits your symptoms best.
  • Lifestyle Changes
    • Our brains are a part of our bodies, so just like anxiety can manifest as physical symptoms, we can use our bodies to take better care of our brains! Increasing your physical activity, eating a balanced diet, and getting adequate sleep can have a big impact on anxiety. Make sure you’re giving your brain what it needs to function properly.
  • Support Networks
    • Isolation is tempting when we’re overwhelmed and feeling like a burden, but it’s also a big contributor to worsening anxiety symptoms. Sharing your feelings and experiences with trusted friends or family members can provide the emotional support you need on the hard days and folks to celebrate with you on the good ones.
  • Education
    • Learn about anxiety and its treatment. Understanding your condition and the available resources can empower you to actively manage your anxiety.
  • Self-Care
    • Prioritize self-care practices, such as hobbies, leisure activities, and self-compassion, to nurture your mental health. Practicing mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation can also help manage anxiety symptoms and enhance your overall mental well-being. You’re mind and body will have a much better chance of improvement if you take the best possible care of yourself, so don’t be afraid to embrace the #selfcare trend.

Finally, be patient with yourself! Anxiety ebbs and flows. You may feel like you’ve beat anxiety one day, only for it to come back swinging the next. That doesn’t mean you aren’t making progress! It just means you have anxiety… it’ll never be fully absent from your life, because it’s part of having a human brain. But if you ask for help and take steps to care for yourself, you’ll be able to build a life that isn’t controlled by your anxiety.

Can Your Faith Help With Your Anxiety?

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink... Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" —Matthew 6:25-26, ESV

Jesus invites us to cast our worries aside and place our trust in God's care. He reminds us that we are precious and that, just as He provides for the birds, He will also provide for us. Jesus encourages us to embrace each day without the weight of anxiety, finding solace and comfort in the truth that God’s taking care of us even when we can’t see it or understand it.

Does that mean that you should just grit your teeth and push through your anxiety without support? No! Jesus also tells us to care for one another, and you deserve to be cared for as you work on healing. If you need encouragement or ideas about how to manage your anxiety, please reach out to chat with one of our Hope Coaches. We’re always here to listen without judgment and never want you to feel alone.

Are you struggling with panic attacks? Follow these guidelines to help recognize and mitigate a panic attack if you believe you’re experiencing one.

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