The “Couple’s” Resolution


By Regina Bright, Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Board Certified Sex Therapist

At the beginning of every year, millions of people make New Year’s resolutions. They often have individual goals such as lose weight, save money, eat healthy, get a better education, quit smoking, quit drinking, earn more money, change jobs, exercise regularly, or spend more time with their families. However, there is one resolution that isn’t heard, “let’s work on our relationship.” While it may not be spoken, couples with marital issues may be hoping that their relationship improves this year. As couple’s struggle with communication, their relationship becomes more strained.
This year, why not resolve to give yourself and your relationship a “special gift.” This will truly be the gift that keeps on giving; leaving you and your partner with a positive feeling throughout the year.  
Couple’s counseling helps clients rediscover their relationship while learning new ways to communicate more effectively. Working together with a trained therapist can help you become “unstuck” in your marital journey. This can lead to learning strategies that continually bring new life to your relationship.  
Regina Bright is the owner of Stepping Stones Professional Counseling, a Mary Esther practice. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Board Certified Sex Therapist, a Clinical Supervisor, a Parent Coordinator and a Florida Supreme Court Family Mediator. At Stepping Stones Professional Counseling, they provide individual, group, couple’s and family counseling. You can reach her at 850-226-6430 or

Beating Holiday Stress with Basic Meditations

Beating Holiday Stress with Basic Meditations
Regina Bright, MS, LMHC, BCST
Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Board Certified Sex Therapist
Holidays can be stressful. Between work, parenting, in-laws, Holiday guests, shopping, traveling, and cooking, (I believe the Holiday term is hustle and bustle) life can seem pretty hectic this time of year.

When I am feeling overwhelmed, I take a time out to relax and do short meditation exercises. Here are a couple of my favorites:  

Deep Breathing Exercise

Begin in a quiet comfortable area with no distractions of cell phones, T.V.’s, computers, etc.  Remember, our goal is to quiet our mind and to remain in the moment. Don’t get discouraged if you are not able to do this the first time. It took me several times to get the hang of it.  

Sit up straight and tall, feet on the floor, and hands on your tummy. Take a deep breath (in through the nose and out through the mouth) and release. Notice your ribs expand while the rest of your body is motionless. Breathe deep, slow, and smoothly. Your exhale should be twice as long as your inhale. Focus solely on your breath. If a thought comes up, bring your attention back to your breath. You are in control – resist distractions. Try this exercise daily, remember meditation is a practice.

Meditation Using Your Senses

Next time you are at the coffee shop, make your focus a cup of hot coffee. Notice the sounds around you – people talking, the steam from the cappuccino machine, the sound of whipped cream topping off a Frappuccino.  Notice the colorful ceramic cup, the steam, and the creamer swirling around the rim. Notice the fragrant aroma of the dark coffee beans. Notice the warm liquid going down your throat and warming your tummy. Notice how the warmth of the cup is warming your cold hands. Notice the taste of your favorite winter drink.

Notice what it feels like to slow down and live in the moment – it isn’t a race to get through life!

Great Mood Boosters and Stress Reducers
Asparagus = boosts mood and calms nervous system
Avocado = reduces stress, calms nervous system, and boosts mood
Bananas = calms nervous system and increases serotonin
Blueberries = reduces stress and boosts mood
Carrots = reduces stress
Cayenne = reduces depression
Chamomile = calms nervous system
Chia seeds = boosts mood
Citrus scents = boosts levels of norepinephrine
Coconuts = boosts mood
Coldwater fish = reduces stress
Dark Chocolate = reduces stress
Exercise = reduces anxiety and depression, boosts overall mental health, reduces stress, improves sleep
Flaxseed = boosts mood
Green smoothie = boosts energy
Holding hands = calms nerves
Honey = energy, antioxidant, and improves immunity
Hugs = releases oxytocin and relieves stress
Iron = alleviates fatigue and prevents anemia
Jasmine = scent calms the nervous system and reduces anxiety
Kale = boosts mood
Lavender = smelling lavender has a calming effect; reduces stress
Leafy greens = reduces stress and boosts energy
Lemon balm tea = reduces stress
Lemons = scent has a calming effect; reduces stress
Mango = calming fruit
Massage = stress reducer
Music = great anxiety reducer, stimulates blood flow, and is good for your heart
Nuts & seeds = reduces stress, calms nervous system, and boosts mood
Oats = decreases depression
Oranges / pink grapefruit = reduces stress and boosts mood
Peppermint = scent boosts mood
Quenepa = antioxidant, regulates hormones, and helps with sleep
Raspberries = calms nervous system
Raw cacao = boosts mood and calms nervous system
Rosemary = scent helps with mental fatigue

Sex = boosts immunity, stress reducer, helps insomnia, increases endorphins, and increases Oxycontin levels
Spinach = boosts mood and calms nervous system
Sweet potatoes = calms nervous system
Swiss chard = boosts mood
Tomatoes = boosts mood
Vanilla = smelling vanilla has a calming effect
Walking = increases serotonin
Vitamin D = increases serotonin
Yogurt = increases serotonin


Regina Bright, MS, LMHC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Board Certified Sex Therapist
Clinical Supervisor
Parent Coordinator
Florida Supreme Court Family Mediator 

Stepping Stones Professional Counseling
151 Mary Esther Blvd. Suite 310 A.
Mary Esther, Fl 32569
Fax: 850-254-1986

Gratitude, Thankfulness, Appreciation, Acknowledgment: How do you give THANKS?

Gratitude is beneficial to both the one giving and the one receiving. You can show gratitude to others by saying “please and thank you,” “yes Ma’am/ Sir and no Ma’am/ Sir.”
There are many creative ways to express gratitude. It can be as simple as getting up in the morning and acknowledging that you woke up – not everyone has that privilege.
Instead of getting mad at your significant other, show them gratitude. Make an effort to communicate more effectively instead of being critical or judgmental.
When you are having a hard day at work, take a break and remember some of the good days that you’ve had that month – don’t forget that it is only a bad day, not a bad life.
Research shows that individuals that express gratitude have:
  • A more positive outlook on life
  • Are physically healthier – tougher immune system – lower blood pressure
  • Less stressed
  • More likely to forgive others
  • Less lonely and more connected with others
  • Happier
  • Better sleep patterns
  • More refreshed
  • Have stronger relationships
Instead of using a gratitude journal, I started using a Gratitude jar. Having a gratitude jar reminds us of the feeling we felt when we were “in the moment.” It allows us to be more mindful and present.
Gratitude Jar
Find a jar: a mason jar, a decorative vase, a fish bowl, etc. and start recording all of your happy memories and events throughout the year. Keep some decorative paper close so that you can jot these memories down and place them in the jar.  When you are having a bad day, you can reach into your gratitude jar and remember all of the good times that you have had throughout the year.
Studies show that individuals who show gratitude feel happier and were more determined to achieve their life goals.
  • Be creative when writing down what you are grateful for.
  • Be specific when you reflect back on your memory so that you won’t forget any important details.
  • If possible, be personal and include names when writing down your entry.
  • Include blessings: spirituality, parents, kids, spouse, etc.
  • Don’t forget life’s surprises: unexpected events, awards, visitors, etc.
Here are a few of my entries for 2013. I chose one from each month to share with you. J
January:  Thankful for my husband. Our anniversary is January 1st so he is the first person I think of when celebrating the New Year.
February: This year we celebrated Valentine’s Day at the Vue restaurant in Grayton Beach. It was absolutely beautiful. My husband Perry surprised me and my little girl with a dozen roses, balloons, candies, and presents. I am very grateful for having such a giving husband. He sure makes us feel special!
March: We had a wonderful time at Disney World for a week. We stayed at one of our Time Shares and enjoyed the Parks and Arabian Nights. I am very grateful for having such a wonderful family and being able to take mini vacations throughout the year.
April: My daughter’s 9th birthday! We rented Brava Salon for a few hours where my daughter and ten of her closest friends got to have their hair, make-up, toes, and nails done. Then we had Nonie’s Ark come with all of her animals. After the party was over, we went to Marina Café for dinner. Afterwards, we went home and opened presents – my daughter started crying when she opened her new Android Smart Phone. What a memory this day was! It warms my heart to see my daughter’s grateful heart.
May: On Mother’s Day we went to Seaside for an Art Festival. My daughter played on the paddle skateboards and walked around the shops. Afterwards, we ate dinner at A Fish out of Water. What a beautiful day; feeling very loved.
June: Schools out; my favorite time of year. No more homework or studying for tests! We can stay up late, watch movies, picnics at the beach, swim at the pool, and have slumber parties in the living room. I feel very grateful that we are such a close family.
July: We went to Crab Island today and took our 3 Labrador Retrievers: Roxy – my 12 year old Chocolate Lab, Gator – my 7 year old Blonde Lab, and Mr. Chomper – my one year old Black Lab. We packed lunch and spent the day swimming and boating. Afterwards we went home, washed the dogs, and cooked out. I love summer. I feel very blessed to have weekends off to spend time with my family.
August: Back to school shopping! We spent the day at Destin Commons. We took Noelle to Justice, one of her favorite stores, so that she could pick out sparkly, glittery outfits. Afterwards, we went to Bonefish for dinner. Today, I am thankful that I have a husband who likes to shop.    
September: Labor Day is already here. This year we spent the day cooking out and spending time with my parents. I am very grateful that they live in my neighborhood.
October: We surprised Noelle with a trip to Disney World for having exceptional grades! We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Resort. We were able to see so many different animals roaming right outside of our balcony. We went Trick or Treating with Mickey Mouse at the Not So Spooky Halloween Party. Another evening we went to a pool party where we roasted smores on the campfire and played ping pong by the pool. I am very thankful that we are able to give Noelle such wonderful memories.
November: I love Thanksgiving because I love to EAT and I love to COOK! We are spending Thanksgiving over at my Uncle Gary’s this year. We are all cooking casseroles to bring over to his house for our Thanksgiving Feast. I thoroughly enjoy spending the Holidays with my Aunts, Uncles, Mom, Dad, Cousins, Husband, and my little Noelle. I am very grateful for my health, my friends, and my family.


Regina Bright, MS, LMHC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Board Certified Sex Therapist
Clinical Supervisor
Parent Coordinator
Florida Supreme Court Family Mediator
Stepping Stones Professional Counseling
151 Mary Esther Blvd. Suite 310 A.
Mary Esther, Fl 32569
Fax: 850-254-1986

10 Most Recommended Self-Help Books



Keep Calm and Carry On, by Mark A. Reinecke, Ph.D. Learn how to manage your anxiety and move through stressful situations with lessons derived from Cognitive Behavior Therapy.
Click to order

It Must Have Been Moonglow, by Phyllis Greene. This is a beautiful and eloquently written book by a woman who was widowed after 56 years of marriage. She shares a personal perspective of her journey through widowhood.
Click to order

The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. Everybody has a Love Language – men, women, boys, and girls. This is a wonderful book that we can all relate to. Learn what your partner’s love language is by doing a short quiz in the back of the book. What is your Love Language? Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Quality Time, Gifts, or Words of Affirmation.
Click to order

Have a New Kid by Friday, by Kevin Leman. This is a well-organized book on how to change a child’s negative behavior. Step by step chapters for every day of the week.
Click to order

Self-Nurture, by Alice D. Domar, Ph.D. and Henry Dreher. This is an excellent book on how to start making yourself a priority. With the motivational stories, short exercises, and meditations, you will be able to swing your focus to self-care. It’s time to make yourself a priority!
Click to order

The Self Esteem Guided Journal, by Mathew McKay, Ph.D. This book is a 10 week program on how to build your self-worth through guided journaling. Change negative thinking patterns, identify strengths, and learn how events from the past have affected your self-esteem today.
Click to order

The Self-Esteem Workbook, by Glenn R. Schiraldi. Learn how to handle your emotions, self- nurture, implement goals and increase self-worth..
Click to order

Shut Up and Live (You Know How), A 93 Year Old’s Guide to Living to a Ripe Old Age, by Marion P. Downs. Need motivation? This is one lady that is living her life to the fullest!
Click to order

Homecoming, by John Bradshaw. This is an excellent book that helps you to address unfinished business from your past so that you can live in the present.
Click to order

Overcoming Bipolar Disorder Workbook, by Amy M. Kilbourne Ph.D., Devra E. Greenwald, Evette J. Ludman Ph.D., and Mark S. Bauer. This book provides an extensive educational element that encourages a person with bipolar disorder to explore their own experiences and inspires them to take action in what personally works for them.
Click to order


Regina Bright, MS, LMHC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Board Certified Sex Therapist
Clinical Supervisor
Parent Coordinator
Florida Supreme Court Family Mediator

Stepping Stones Professional Counseling
151 Mary Esther Blvd. Suite 310 A.
Mary Esther, Fl 32569
Fax: 850-254-1986


Blog Challenge #5

Therapists are People, Too

Therapists are People, Too
 by Martin Miron
Therapists know that it is necessary to take good care of their own mental health, because their clients depend on them. Just because a practitioner may know everything there is to know about stress management doesn’t mean they can’t become mentally exhausted.

Regina Bright, LMHC, owner of Stepping Stones Professional Counseling, in Mary Esther, has been working in the mental health field as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Board Certified Sex Therapist, Clinical Supervisor, Parent Coordinator and Certified Florida Supreme Court Family Mediator. She states, “I listen to clients in crisis for many hours a day, providing support, empathy, interpretation and direction. Therapists can easily lose track of their own issues, ignore their own problems and at times, have a difficult time shutting off the therapeutic process.”

If a therapist should begin to feel any “depersonalization” toward clients, or even themself, it might be a symptom of emotional fatigue. Bright enumerates a few ways that she likes to stay balanced.

“I use my colleagues’ expertise regularly. We go to lunch and consult each other on difficult cases. We bounce around different techniques and approaches that could heighten the therapeutic process.

“I belong to many professional organizations and am very involved in my community. I feel that if I have the support of my community, then I am not alone in my journey.

“I enjoy spending time with my family. Going to the beach and reading or walking is especially refreshing. I take two trips a year with the family, and then one with just my husband.

“I have developed many friendships over the years, and I enjoy spending time with many different groups of people. I am very thankful for the friendships that I have made.

“In college, I could do everything that came to my mind. I achieved more things in one day than most people did in a week. Now, I want to balance giving and getting—with attention to my family, friends, spouse, community and solitude.”

As a mental health professional, self-care is a minimum standard of professional practice, and Bright insists that her clients deserve to be served by a healthy, well-balanced health care professional.
To contact Stepping Stones Professional Counseling call 850-226-6430.

Quick Tips to Great Mental Health



Individuals who maintain a healthy diet are more likely to have overall great physical health. Likewise, there is relationship between diet and mood, proposing that foods containing a higher nutritional value can safeguard individuals from stress, depression, ADHD, and anxiety. Try choosing unprocessed foods, organic foods, fresh fruit, and leafy vegetables. A healthy diet also includes adequate amounts of complex carbohydrates, essential fats, vitamins and water.
Routine weekly exercise increases activity in both the brain’s frontal lobe and in the hippocampus. Exercise naturally boosts levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters are linked to elevating mood.
Mindful meditation helps with so many physical and psychological problems associated with high blood pressure, chronic pain, psoriasis, sleep, anxiety, and depression.
Hobbies are an effective way in reducing stress. Hobbies provide an escape from stressors of our daily life.  Furthermore, by reducing stress you are helping your heart in lowering blood pressure. Participating in activities can also help in reducing fatigue, loneliness and depressed mood. Mentally stimulating hobbies such as reading, playing board games, and doing crossword puzzles can minimize memory loss in senior citizens.
Vitamin D  plays a big role in cognition and mental health. When the sun shines, both our energy and mood improves due to the sun’s ability in increasing both endorphins and serotonin. Sunshine helps your body make melatonin, the sleep inducing hormone that aids in a sound sleep.
Regina Bright, MS, LMHC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Board Certified Sex Therapist
Clinical Supervisor
Parent Coordinator
Florida Supreme Court Family MediatorStepping Stones Professional Counseling
151 Mary Esther Blvd. Suite 310 A.
Mary Esther, Fl 32569
Fax: 850-254-1986

Refresh Your Relationship This Summer


Refresh Your Relationship This Summer

ImageSometimes our relationships can become stagnant. It’s time to reignite the flame and restore the passion that you and your partner deserve.

  • Being social… look for healthy couples to hang out with. Summer is the time for BBQ’s, pool parties, camping, picnics in the park, and going to the beach. Socializing with other couples will bring about new adventures to add to your list.
  • Priority… make your partner feel special. Let them know that your relationship is at the top of your priority list. Brainstorm different ways that you can show them daily.
  • Communication… learn to be an effective communicator. Being a good communicator means being a good listener. Most couples listen with the intent to reply, instead, listen with the intent to understand.
  • Play nice… it’s not always going to be fun and games. There will be times that you and your partner don’t get along. Watch your tone. No name-calling, no degrading, and no blaming.  Before you speak, ask yourself, “is this helping or hurting the relationship?” And, if you slip up, don’t forget to apologize.
  • Helping others… volunteering at a Church, soup kitchen, women’s shelter, animal shelter, Red Cross, or nursing home is a great way to give back to the community and will leave you and your partner with a sense of accomplishment. 
  • Be spontaneous… routines are great; however, it can make a relationship feel monotonous. Break up the routine from time to time to make things more exciting.   
  • Respect and accept lovingly… learn to accept your partner for the things that you like and don’t like. Respect each other’s differences.  Allow your partner to be themselves. If we mold our partner to be what we wish they were, then we only love the reflection of ourselves.
  • Take a time-out… everyone needs alone time. Take a personal day and enjoy being with yourself. Go for a walk, have a spa day, hit some balls on the golf course etc. 
  • Surprises… they don’t have to be elaborate, just something to let your partner know that you are thinking of them. Maybe a card to let your partner know how much you appreciate them, a smiley face balloon to brighten a tough day at work, a bouquet of seasonal flowers, or a gourmet box of chocolates to share while watching a romantic movie.  Surprises can also come in other forms –straightening up the garage or cleaning up the kitchen can be a great gift.
  • Intimacy… as a couple’s counselor, I hear more times than not that, “we just don’t have time” or, “we are so tired at the end of the day.” Intimacy not only means physical affection, it also means emotional affection. Take time to talk to your partner about your emotional and physical needs. Discuss how you can improve in these areas and follow-through.
  • Household duties… make a list of what you are responsible for and what your partner is responsible for in the home. Is it equal? Evenly distributed chores could equal more intimacy.  Remember how I said that I hear couples say, “I am just too tired at the end of the day.”
  • Experience something new… with social media; there is so much exposure to new and exciting things. Visit Pinterest and see what excites you!  Maybe redo a room together or learn how to make sushi this Friday night.
  • Spending quality time together… Between work, household chores, and shuttling the children, it is sometimes hard to give each other undivided attention. Schedule some uninterrupted time for the two of you on the family calendar.
Here are some activities that might spark your interest!
   White water rafting
   Cooking class
   Learn a new language
   Go for a swim
   Rock climb at the gym
   Breakfast in bed
   Plant a tree to symbolize the relationship
   Take an art class
   Fondue date night
   Stargaze – enjoy a cold drink on the patio and look at the stars
   Go bird watching
   Plant an herb garden
   Take a mini road trip
   See a local play
   Horseback ride
   Buy art supplies and paint a picture of each other
   Dinner and a movie with a theme – rent “The Three Amigos” and eat Mexican food
   Mini golf
   Bubble bath for two
   Bike ride
   Poetry class
   Paddle boarding
   Tube a local river
   Jet ski
   Go to an art gallery
   Learn how to play an instrument
   Make a 4 course meal together
   Give each other massages
   Search restaurants in your area and find a new one that you haven’t been to
   Relax by the fireplace and roast marshmallows
   Learn to dance
   Science Center
   Sign up for a race: Mud Run or Color Run
   Help out with a charity
   Go roller skating
   Fulfill your bucket list
   Pottery class
   Meet your neighbors
   Homemade pizza night
   Go to a bed and breakfast
   Go to a comedy show
   Rent mopeds and travel around town
   Have a 5 course dinner at different restaurants….
   Truth or Dare
   Take a surf lesson
   Plan a new tradition
   Zip lining
   Go to the gourmet section and pick out a new coffee to enjoy in the morning
   Make candy or bake a cake
   Go to the arcade
   Candlelight dinner at home
   Make a list of 5 things that you love about your partner /exchange lists
   Camp out in the living room
   You plan half of the evening and your partner plan the other half
   Host a dinner party
   Hot tub
   Wake up early and watch the sunrise
   Board game night
   Browse the bookstore and pick out a book for each other
   Plan a vacation for a year from now
   Watch a local band
   Go to a sporting event
   Flea market
   Watch the sunset
   Parade of homes
   Paint a room in your house
   Change the furniture around
   Spend the day browsing the shops
   Watch a local band
   Go golfing
   Collect seashells
   Reenact your first date
   Go to a local farm and pick fruit
   Ice skating
   Talk about dreams for the future
   Take the dog to the dog park
   Beach volleyball
   Detail the cars
   Have brunch this weekend
   Enjoy a new cuisine – Vietnamese, German, Italian, French
   Dodge ball


Regina Bright, MS, LMHC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Board Certified Sex Therapist
Clinical Supervisor
Parent Coordinator
Florida Supreme Court Family Mediator


Stepping Stones Professional Counseling
151 Mary Esther Blvd. Suite 310 A.
Mary Esther, Fl 32569
Fax: 850-254-1986