Flourish Psychology is a boutique private practice located in Brooklyn in New York City. We believe in individuality – of being and living your true self in a way that is free of judgment. We want you to be supported, and we want you to know that you deserve to be the true you.
But while we believe in seeing you the way you wish to be seen, we also acknowledge that it remains a challenging world for LGBTQ+ and those living alternative lifestyles. It can also be even harder the further away you are from large city centers, where coming out at all can be dangerous and finding the support you need even more difficult.
Benefits of Online Therapy in New York
The desire for discretion and privacy is one of the reasons that we offer remote therapy for those living throughout New York State. We know that even in big cities, where diversity is more common, it can be hard to feel free to be yourself. It is often even more difficult in the more remote areas of the state, where everyone knows their neighbor and where access to a psychologist that recognizes that individuality can be exceedingly difficult.
Our therapists, based in Brooklyn, provide LGBTQ+ affirming care to both support your ability to live your individuality, and to make sure you have the support you need to address some of the anxieties, stresses, and other issues you may struggle with as a result of both the pressures of society and day to day life.
By providing therapy online, you can receive treatment from the comfort of your own home. This allows you to:
See a therapist that is not directly connected to your community.
Receive treatment in a way that is completely discreet.
Be in a place where you feel safe and can be yourself during treatment.
Remote therapy also opens the door to see a therapist in areas that do not traditionally have access to any mental healthcare, let alone one that is experienced in supporting LGTBQA individuals. We can also provide gender affirming care for transgender adults, help you cope with the changes that may arise during transition, and provide coping strategies as you navigate a difficult medical system.
Free to Be Who You Are
In addition to our work with individuals, we also provide couples counseling and relationship therapy to any type of couple, including those in non-traditional relationships. We know you deserve support, and our therapists are here to provide it for you.
Let Flourish Psychology help you be you. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options, or to be connected to one of our therapists.
Happiness is an emotional state, but emotion is highly tied to biology. The different hormones and neurotransmitters in your brain and the state of your entire body and nervous system all play significant roles in how happy you feel.
By making small, scientifically proven changes in your life, you can influence these biological factors and guide yourself to happier living in NYC.
How to Easily Increase Your Happiness
The brain and the body are closely tied together. What you feel emotionally directly impacts what your body experiences physically, both at a conscious, noticeable level and at a molecular level. This connection also goes the other way in the sense that by changing what your body experiences physically, you will have a direct impact on your emotions.
Physical changes are often easier and faster to make in our lives since they do not require the willpower to push ourselves into a new emotional state or untangle complicated emotions and previous experiences. This can be one of the fastest ways to increase your day to day happiness, limit your risk of depression, and reduce symptoms of sadness and stress:
Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing – This breathing technique relaxes the body by increasing oxygenation, lowering blood pressure, and releasing muscle tension. It will also boost your energy and make you feel warmer through improved blood circulation, all of which will put you in a better mood. For this technique, you will breathe into your stomach. Place a hand on your abdomen and inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, feeling your stomach expand. Hold your breath for 2 seconds, and then exhale for 6 seconds. Repeat the process until you feel the effects.
Increase Blood Flow to the Brain – Many studies have shown that increased blood circulation in the brain raises the amount of oxygen in the brain. Oxygen is essential for producing serotonin and endorphins – two neurotransmitters tied to happiness. There are a few different tips you can use to increase the oxygenation of your brain by improving circulation, such as physical activity and limiting caffeinated and alcoholic drinks. These changes can have immediate effects on blood flow and making them routine will quickly begin to increase your overall happiness.
Aligning Behavioral Circadian Rhythms – Your circadian rhythms are cycles within the body that control the release of chemicals like endorphins and cortisol, both of which directly impact mood, alertness, and feelings of well being. You can align your circadian rhythms by going to bed at approximately the same time every night and waking up at the same time the next morning, including on weekends. Misaligned circadian rhythms can result in uneven production of cortisol, which is shown to lead to increased rates of depression and anxiety and means that any setbacks you experience throughout your days will have a greater negative effect on happiness.
Eating Foods High in Tryptophan – The body uses tryptophan, which is an amino acid, to produce serotonin, as well as red blood cells. We do not produce tryptophan on our own, so you will need to eat the right foods to make sure you are getting enough of it. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of foods that contain tryptophan, including meat, eggs, milk, fish, almonds, bananas, and peanuts. Many other high protein foods contain tryptophan as well so you can add more to whatever your diet may be.
Alter Fixed Routines – Daily routines result in a fixed emotional state, and while this can be effective at preventing additional stress and feelings of sadness, it also limits you from taking in novel experiences, which will cause a release of serotonin and endorphins. Introducing small adjustments to your routine that are easy to implement will start to introduce a feeling of novelty and improve resilience to make you happier. This can begin by doing something different after work, purposely trying something new, picking up a hobby, or incorporating a different step into your morning routine.
These simple ways of using biology to improve your happiness can be extremely valuable for your overall well being or for a way to reduce depression symptoms, but they are unlikely to solve depression single-handedly. For this, reaching out for therapy in Brooklyn can give you more precise and personalized guidance in how to improve your happiness and go into greater depth on the aspects of your life that are holding you back.
Sleep requires relaxation. It requires feeling like you can “turn off” your brain and allowing yourself to drift off into dreamland, comfortably. But for those with anxiety and stress, “turning off” your brain is often a significant challenge. Going to bed, you’re left with no distractions and nothing but your own thoughts.
“What do I need to do tomorrow?”
“Why did my partner say this to me today?”
“What if I fall asleep and do not wake up?
Not all the thoughts are anxious either. Your mind may be racing with ideas, like “I have a great solution for a project at work. I hope I remember it!” or “I have an idea for a blog post on Flourish Psychology for tomorrow.”
These thoughts keep you awake, and you need an outlet that will successfully take the thought out of your head and put it elsewhere so that you can let your mind relax and drift off to sleep.
The Sleep Benefits of a Journal
One of the main reasons that your mind cannot relax enough for sleep is that it is trying to remember and process all the different things that are on your mind. Imagine you were tired, hiding in a dark cave, and suddenly heard a scary growl. You wouldn’t want to be able to forget about the growl and fall asleep, because you’d be in danger. So you will stay awake, trying to process the sounds and experiences around you.
Similarly, if you have a great idea, or you have something you need to remember, your brain is trying to make sure that you don’t forget it. It knows that you might forget it if you fall asleep, so it keeps you awake to prevent you from forgetting the idea.
One very effective way to relax your mind is to write out all these thoughts onto some type of journal or diary that you keep by your bed. Every thought, whether it’s sad or happy or scary or just an idea, can be written out in this journal.
What this does is that it essentially tells your brain “don’t worry, I can’t forget about this, because it’s right here in this journal that I can look at tomorrow.” It also helps you process the idea because you’re turning these random thoughts into words on a page.
Journaling for a Better Night’s Sleep
Your journal may not be able to cure your anxiety. But it can relax your active mind. For someone with sleep issues, especially if those sleep issues are due to racing or anxious thoughts, writing out those thoughts into a journal can be a great way to take them out of your mind and give yourself some much needed rest.
If you have trouble sleeping from stress or anxiety, contact Flourish Psychology today for more information about our anxiety treatments and support.
Welcome Summer! It is common to feel a shift during the summer. As young kids, summer meant time off school. As adults, we still experience seasonal changes and mood differences but we sometimes forget to acknowledge this shift and let the summer pass without making attempts to improve our mental health. We still have our day-to-day routine with work and responsibilities so it is totally normal to forget to embrace the summer season.
Here are some tips to help you thrive this summer and have some positive changes to your mental health.
1.Embrace Time Outside
Try going on more walks on routes you don’t normally frequent. This improves mindfulness and allows us to take a new adventure. While you are outside try to notice what is around you. Use your senses to come into your present moment by noticing what you see, feel, taste, smell, and hear. You will immediately calm and become more observant in this exercise, which helps decrease anxiety and prevent stress.
Time in nature helps us improve joy. Being in nature, we tend to tune into another part of ourselves that we sometimes forget is there when we engage in the same-old routines consistently. You might notice more beauty and peace if you spend just a small amount of time outdoors.
2. Pick Up A New Hobby
During the summer people tend to spend more time outside. Try to observe what others are doing while you are out. Are they playing a game that looks fun? Are they walking an adorable dog? Are they reading on a blanket? This observation might allow you to tap into a new hobby you might enjoy. When we engage in a new hobby we tend to improve our mental health. We are having fun, we are goal-setting, and we are doing something novel. As adults, we sometimes forget to have fun and just play. A new hobby will allow you to tune into yourself and your interests- the ultimate self-care!
3. Enjoy Summer Foods
Lots of produce is in season and it is bright, colorful, and delicious! Try to cook something new or remember the summer meals you loved as a kid and remake them. Grill out or attend a park where you can grill to have some home-cooked flavors.
Look through online recipes for the best summer meals to get some creative ideas. Cooking new foods and trying new recipes can bring you joy. When you cook you engage more creatively and tend to reflect on positive food experiences. Cooking also improves your mindfulness and decreases stress!
Be sure to enjoy lots of summer treats too. Do you ever forget the ice cream truck is for adults too? Enjoy a milkshake as you sit on a bench and take in the warm air. Put on your favorite music and walk to your favorite ice cream shop. Get a variety of candy and lay on a blanket to enjoy it! These great tastes bring us so much joy.
4. Meet New People
As more people are out and about we tend to feel more social. If you are in the market for new friends, join a fun Meet Up. Or if you want to be more spontaneous, talk to the group next to you at the park or sitting near you on a bench. You can even ask to join in a pick-up sports game if you are feeling up to it. Some activities are built for meeting new people that exist in the summer such as pick-up sports, reading groups, new classes, and volunteering. Moving your body, learning something new, or helping others all tend to bring us together and make us feel more connected. Social anxiety also decreases as we expose ourselves more to impromptu conversations with others. What’s the worst that can happen? They walk away and don’t speak to you. Their loss!
5. Start Therapy
Of course, therapy is the ultimate way to improve your mental health. Summer is a great time to start speaking to a therapist. Perhaps you use your summer Friday afternoons to take that hour to speak to your therapist and then hit your weekend feeling accomplished and positive. We are here to help you improve your mental health this summer so contact us to get connected.
When most people hear the word hygiene, they tend to think of taking regular showers and keeping their surroundings clean and in order. When the term is paired with sleep, however, people often say they were unaware of hygienic standards for sleep. This is probably because people don’t consider sleep as a metric of health. Unfortunately, sleep is far more important and susceptible to misaligned patterns than we may think. Sleep hygiene is a combination of behavioral and environmental patterns that address repeated or chronic instances of poor sleep. These undesirable sleep patterns can look like insomnia or hypersomnia and there are different methods of adjustment for each. These can and should be looked at separately in order to effectively address treatment options for each.
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a pattern of disordered sleep that is identified by marked trouble falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the cycle. This difficulty sleeping can be either transient, acute or chronic. Transient insomnia lasts anywhere from one night to four weeks. Acute insomnia lasts anywhere from two to four weeks and is identified by a return to regular sleep. If the symptoms persist for longer than two months at a time, it becomes identified as chronic insomnia.
Along with little amounts of sleep and poor quality of sleep, additional symptoms of insomnia include daytime fatigue, forgetfulness and irritability as well as upward or downward trends in eating. All types of insomnia, from transient to chronic, have the propensity to bear similar root causes. These can include recent stress, chronic anxiety and/or depression, ADHD nighttime environments that are not conducive to good sleep as well as personal life habits like substance use or an unstable work-life balance.
What is Hypersomnia?
Conversely, hypersomnia refers to another kind of disordered sleep. Hypersomnia is the term used to discuss excessive daytime sleepiness or an excess of time spent sleeping. People dealing with hypersomnia have a hard time staying awake through obligations and activities. They may experience daytime fatigue that feels insurmountable, even while sleeping thoroughly at night. Symptoms of hypersomnia include a lack of energy to persist through the day, falling asleep at inappropriate times (such as during work or while driving) and excessive tiredness, all while getting adequate or extensive amounts of sleep at night.
Hypersomnia can be caused by prolonged use of certain substances, mood disorders (like major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder) as well as it can be a response to acute stress or depression. The metric that ties these symptoms and causes together in order to identify hypersomnia is the acknowledgment of regular to excessive amounts of sleep at night that offer no reprieve from fatigue. Excessive drowsiness can also be a response to acute sleep deprivation in a table of need and supply commonly referred to as sleep debt.
With the human brain and body needing a minimum of six hours of sleep every night for optimal function, there are consequences for brain function if this minimum is not met once, let alone repeatedly. If someone repeatedly gets insufficient sleep, they enter what is known as sleep debt wherein their inadequate amounts of rest begin to affect their daily ability to function. Many people respond to instances of sleep debt with excessive sleeping to treat the fatigue they are experiencing as a result of inadequate sleep.
With the recognition of resultant issues like sleep debt, it becomes clear how insomnia and hypersomnia can be connected and interrelated. Transient or acute insomnia can result in hypersomnia as the body tries to acquire the amount of rest necessary for function. However, sleep debt is likely to increase if the body gets into alternating patterns of insufficient and excessive sleep. The consideration of sleep as a necessary element of health becomes evident when you consider how overall function is affected by both insomnia and hypersomnia. Regarding healthy sleep patterns as an inextricable part of self care becomes essential for the general health of the brain and body. Regulating sleep patterns is a very important part of overall function and this can be done by cultivating good sleep hygiene habits.
Ways to Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
● Limiting nighttime screen time – Doctors recommend relinquishing screens for brain health at least thirty minutes before one intends to fall asleep. The lack of stimulation as well as the lack of bright screen lights can help the brain to wind down in preparation for sleep.
● Eating properly and at regular times – Acknowledging and responding to the body’s hunger cues in ideal intervals can help to contribute to healthy sleep patterns by following suggested digestive times. Eating should stop for the day at least an hour before one intends to fall asleep so digestion can end before sleep therefore not interrupting the sleep cycle.
● Seeing a professional – If symptoms of insomnia or hypersomnia persist even with the changing of individual life patterns, it may be time to see a doctor. Insomnia is often treated with anti-anxiety medication or prescribed sedatives that act as a sleep aid. Hypersomnia can also be treated with antidepressants or prescribed stimulants for energy throughout the day. While poor sleep hygiene is extremely common, it can also have long-term negative impacts on brain and body health. If you find that you are sleeping too much or too little, it is essential to try to stick to routine patterns of sleep and waking in order to avoid falling into dangerous patterns of insomnia or hypersomnia. Help is possible and rest can be acquired.
When you’re ready to take the next step, contact us to schedule your first session.
As a Black woman, I see a lot of messaging that praises our strength, resilience and selflessness. The strong Black woman is characterized by her independence, emotional restraint and ability to meet the needs of others. She is expected to put on a smile as she navigates the difficulties that inevitably come with existing as a Black woman in a society that values maleness and whiteness. The strong Black woman is certainly a more positive archetype of black femininity than the stereotypes of the distant past. Yet it still results in unreasonable and harmful expectations being placed on us – both by ourselves and by everyone around us.
Because we are often so focused on being resilient and selfless, we are more likely to neglect self-care.
Why Black women are more likely to neglect self-care
Self-care can be difficult for everyone, but Black women are perhaps most likely to neglect it. Due to socioeconomic factors, we are more likely to face hindrances when it comes to finding the time and money to invest in self-care. “Time poverty” refers to having little or no time to spend on yourself and the things you want or need to do. This is usually due to the overwhelming obligations of work, family and home life. In the United States, women of color are more likely to work multiple jobs and to be responsible for most of the unpaid labor in the home. For single parents and caregivers, there is often little time left to invest in self-care after meeting the needs of everyone else. Rest and relaxation can be elusive for Black women, and we are more likely to be sleep deprived and to experience sleep apnea.
Black women have the highest rate of labor force participation and are more likely to work multiple jobs or overtime hours. 80% of Black mothers are the sole, primary or co-breadwinner for their household. When it comes to finances, Black women tend to have less disposable income than other demographics. Black women earn 63 cents for every dollar earned by a White man, compared to the 79 cents earned by White women. Half of Black women are of the view that their race will make to harder for them to advance in the workplace. Black women disproportionately work lower-income domestic and caregiving jobs, which offer little in the way of benefits and paid time off. With less time and money, self-care often gets pushed to the back burner.
Many Black women have been socialized into toxic productivity. As girls, we’re more likely than our White counterparts to assume caretaking or housekeeping roles in the home. We are also under increased pressure to perform academically and in the workplace, having been caused to believe that we have to be “twice as good to achieve half as much.” The research backs this up, with statistics showing that Black women work longer hours and occupy a higher percentage of the overall workforce.
Unique Challenges Faced by Black Women
Black women stand at the intersection of gender-based and race-based discrimination. As a result, we face many challenges not faced by men and women of other races. As a woman of color, it’s not uncommon to deal with microaggresions and misogynoir in the workplace, in social environments, and online. Black women are constantly being scrutinized for their hair, body shape, skin tone and the way we express ourselves, leading to increased rates of body dysmorphia and low self-esteem.
A research study concluded that Black women are more likely to experience stress-related accelerated biological aging. Researchers believe that this demographic faces consistent or prolonged stressors, which can speed up the body’s aging process. Physical signs of premature aging include grey hair, hair loss, wrinkles and painful joints. Accelerated aging can also cause memory and vision problems, as well as decreased energy levels.
Racial trauma is real and it can have long-lasting effects. Also known as race-based traumatic stress, it is the after-effects of exposure to racism and other forms of race-based discrimination. When people are subjected to violence, unfair treatment or microagressions because of their racial background, the effects can be similar to symptoms experienced by people living with post-traumatic stress disorder. In the workplace, Black women face micro aggressions, barriers to advancement and the constant pressure to outperform their peers.
There are several health conditions and lifestyle diseases that disproportionately affect Black women. We are more likely to experience heart disease, stroke and diabetes, all of which can be caused or exacerbated by stress.
Ways to prioritize self care as a Black Woman
While the general tenets of self-care are applicable to Black women, there are some more specific ways that we can address the unique challenges we face on a daily basis. Personally, I try to be intentional about limiting my intake of triggering media and news stories. While it’s important to be informed, overconsumption can have a traumatic effect. When stories of police brutality and racism are dominating the news feeds, it’s okay to check out.
Another thing I strive to do is consuming media that portrays Black women in positive and inspirational roles. Representation is important. Movies, TV shows and books about Black characters can be a joyful and healing experience. Finally, it’s important to set boundaries regarding racially-charged conversations. Remind yourself that you do not have to take on the role of educating others about social justice issues. You do not have to participate in conversations that you find uncomfortable or triggering.
During Black History Month, we celebrate the achievements and contributions that Black people have made to the world. This time of year also causes us to look towards the future wellbeing of our community. When Black women take better care of ourselves, we’re able to contribute more at home, at work and in the world.