Playful Communication in Relationships

The Power of Laughter, Humor, and Play

Laughter has a powerful effect on your health and well-being. A good laugh relieves tension and stress, elevates mood, enhances creativity and problem-solving ability, and provides a quick energy boost. But even more importantly, laughter brings people together. Mutual laughter and play are an essential component of strong, healthy relationships. By making a conscious effort to incorporate more humor and play into your daily interactions, you can improve the quality of your love relationships—as well as your connections with co-workers, family members, and friends.

The power of laughter and play

Playful communication is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships exciting, fresh, and vital. Laughter and play enrich your interactions and give your relationships that extra zing that keeps them interesting, light, and enjoyable. This shared pleasure creates a sense of intimacy and connection—qualities that define solid, lasting relationships.

People are attracted to happy, funny individuals. Laughter draws others to you and keeps them by your side. When you laugh with one another, a positive bond is created. This bond acts as a strong buffer against stress, disagreements, and disappointment. And laughter really is contagious—just hearing laughter primes your brain to smile and join in on the fun.

Playful communication helps you:

  • Connect to others. Your health and happiness depend, to a large degree, on the quality of your relationships—and laughter binds people together.
  • Smooth over differences. Using gentle humor often helps you broach sensitive subjects, resolve disagreements, and reframe problems.
  • Feel relaxed and energized at the same time. Laughter relieves fatigue and relaxes your body, while also recharging your batteries and helping you accomplish more.
  • Overcome problems and setbacks. A sense of humor is the key to resilience. It helps you take hardships in stride, weather disappointment, and bounce back from adversity and loss.
  • Put things into perspective. Most situations are not as bleak as they appear to be when looked at from a playful and humorous point of view.
  • Be more creative. Humor and playfulness loosen you up, energizing thinking and inspiring creative problem solving.

The health benefits of laughter

Laughter and playfulness also come with numerous physical and mental health benefits. Laughter triggers a host of healthy changes in your brain and body.

Laughter helps you stay healthy by:

  • Boosting your mood
  • Decreasing stress hormones
  • Improving oxygen flow to the brain
  • Reducing physical pain
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Strengthening the immune system
  • Protecting the heart
  • Relaxing your body

Mental health benefits of laughter and humor
Better Health Through Humor, Laughter, and Play

Laughter is strong medicine for both the body and the mind. It helps you stay balanced, energetic, joyful, and healthy.

The mental health benefits of laughter are tied to the physical benefits. When your body is relaxed and energized, you are better able to think and communicate clearly. This helps you keep your own emotions in check, relate in a positive way to others, and resolve conflict.

Laughter is a particularly powerful antidote to depression and anxiety. Having a sense of humor offsets depression and anxiety by:

  • Releasing endorphins. When you laugh, your brain releases endorphins, powerful chemicals that boost mood and override sadness and negative thoughts.
  • Putting things into perspective. Most situations are not as bleak as they appear to be when looked at from a playful and humorous point of view.
  • Connecting us to others. Our mental health depends, to a large degree, on the quality of our relationships—and laughter binds people together.
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Myths and Facts about Anger

Myth: I shouldn’t “hold in” my anger. It’s healthy to vent and let it out.
Fact:
While it’s true that suppressing and ignoring anger is unhealthy, venting is no better. Anger is not something you have to “let out” in an aggressive way in order to avoid blowing up. In fact, outbursts and tirades only fuel the fire and reinforce your anger problem.

Myth: Anger, aggression, and intimidation help me earn respect and get what I want.
Fact: 
True power doesn’t come from bullying others. People may be afraid of you, but they won’t respect you if you can’t control yourself or handle opposing viewpoints. Others will be more willing to listen to you and accommodate your needs if you communicate in a respectful way.

Myth: I can’t help myself. Anger isn’t something you can control.
Fact: 
You can’t always control the situation you’re in or how it makes you feel, but you can control how you express your anger. And you can express your anger without being verbally or physically abusive. Even if someone is pushing your buttons, you always have a choice about how to respond.

Myth: Anger management is about learning to suppress your anger.
Fact: 
Never getting angry is not a good goal. Anger is normal, and it will come out regardless of how hard you try to suppress it. Anger management is all about becoming aware of your underlying feelings and needs and developing healthier ways to manage upset. Rather than trying to suppress your anger, the goal is to express it in constructive ways.

Why learning to control your anger is important

You might think that venting your anger is healthy, that the people around you are too sensitive, that your anger is justified, or that you need to show your fury to get respect. But the truth is that anger is much more likely to damage your relationships, impair your judgment, get in the way of success, and have a negative impact on the way people see you.

  • Out-of-control anger hurts your physical health. Constantly operating at high levels of stress and tension is bad for your health. Chronic anger makes you more susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, a weakened immune system, insomnia, and high blood pressure.
  • Out-of-control anger hurts your mental health. Chronic anger consumes huge amounts of mental energy and clouds your thinking, making it harder to concentrate, see the bigger picture, and enjoy life. It can also lead to stress, depression, and other mental health problems.
  • Out-of-control anger hurts your career. Constructive criticism, creative differences, and heated debate can be healthy. But lashing out only alienates your colleagues, supervisors, or clients and erodes their respect. What’s more, a bad reputation can follow you wherever you go, making it harder and harder to get ahead.
  • Out-of-control anger hurts your relationships with others. It causes lasting scars in the people you love most and gets in the way of your friendships and work relationships. Chronic, intense anger makes it hard for others to trust you, speak honestly, or feel comfortable—they never know what is going to set you off or what you will do. Explosive anger is especially damaging to children.

5 Ways to Teach Your Child Anger Management Skills

Help your child learn healthy ways to deal with angry feelings

By Amy Morin
Discipline Expert

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Many child behavior problems center around kids struggling to manage their anger. Oppositional behavior, disrespect, conflict and aggression can often be decreased by helping kids learn how to handle their anger better. If you teach your child anger management skills, it will improve behavior and give your child one of the six most important life skills.

1. Differentiate Between Feelings and Behavior

Kids often have difficulty understanding the difference between angry feelings and aggressive behavior. Teach kids about feelings so they can learn to verbalize feelings of anger, frustration and disappointment. Often, feelings like sadness and hurt are masked by aggressive behavior. Teach your child how to identify and verbalize feelings instead of acting.

Also, give the message that feeling angry is okay. Anger is like any other emotion and there are times that it is appropriate to feel angry. This can help kids learn that feeling and talking about angry feelings aren’t bad.

2. Model Appropriate Anger Management Skills

It’s essential that you role model appropriate behavior to teach kids how to manage their anger. If your kids see you lose your cool, they’ll be much more likely to have trouble managing their own anger or understanding what’s appropriate and what isn’t.

Sometimes parents hide their feelings and frustrations from their kids. Although it’s good to shield kids from adult problems, they also need to see how you handle your angry feelings. Create opportunities to talk about feelings and share appropriate ways to deal with them.

Pointing out times when you feel frustrated teaches kids how to talk about feelings. When you are riding in the car, say out loud, “Wow, that makes me angry that the car in front of us didn’t stop to let those kids cross the street. But, I’m going to stop so they can cross.

Take responsibility for your behavior when you lose your cool in front of your kids. Apologize and discuss what you should have done instead. Say, “I am sorry that you had to see me yelling today when I was mad. I should have gone for a walk to cool off when I was angry instead of raising my voice.”

3. Establish Anger Rules

Most families have unofficial family rules about what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t when it comes to anger. Some families don’t mind doors being slammed and voices being raised while other families may have less tolerance for such behaviors. Create written household rules that make it clear to kids what they can do when they feel angry and what sorts of behavior will result in a consequence.

Anger rules should center around behaving respectfully toward others. Kids need to learn that just because they feel angry it doesn’t give them a right to hurt anyone. Address areas such as physical aggression, name calling and destruction of property so that kids know they can’t throw things, break things or lash out verbally or physically when they’re mad.

4. Teach Healthy Ways to Manage Anger

Kids need to know appropriate ways to deal with their anger. Instead of just being told, “Don’t hit your brother,” tell them what to do when they feel frustrated. When time out is used as discipline instead of punishment kids learn to take a break on their own to help them calm down.

Kids can also benefit from learning coping skills. Teach them to take a break when they are becoming frustrated. Show them how to relax by doing something enjoyable. Also, teach problem-solving skills and help them learn how to resolve conflict peacefully. Most importantly, teach them to walk away when they are angry before they become aggressive.

5. Offer Consequences When Necessary

Kids need positive consequences when they follow the anger rules and negative consequences when they break the rules. Positive consequences are especially important for kids who usually have difficulty managing their anger. A reward system or token economy system can provide extra incentive to help them remain calm and use their skills to manage their angry feelings safely.

There needs to be immediate consequences for any aggressive behavior. Depending on your child’s age, consequences may include time out, loss of privileges, or even paying restitution by doing extra chores or loaning a toy to the victim.

It’s normal for kids to struggle to manage their anger at times but difficulty with anger can cause serious problems for some kids. If you grow concerned about your child’s behavior or anger management problemsseek professional help. A trained professional can rule out any underlying mental health problems and can offer assistance in creating a behavior management plan.

BLOGS

9 ways to live longer

Live healthy, live longer

Making just a few changes in your lifestyle can help you live longer.

Making just a few changes in your lifestyle can help you live longer.

A recent study found that four bad behaviors—smoking, drinking too much alcohol, not exercising, and not eating enough fruits and veggies—can hustle you into an early grave, and, in effect, age you by as many as 12 years. Fortunately, you can do something to correct these and other unhealthy behaviors. Adopt the following nine habits to keep your body looking and feeling young.

Copyright © 2014 Health Media Ventures, Inc. All rights reserved.

Don't overeat

If you want to live to 100, leaving a little bit of food on your plate may be a good idea. Author Dan Buettner, who studies longevity around the world, found that the oldest Japanese people stop eating when they are feeling only about 80% full.

St. Louis University researchers have confirmed that eating less helps you age slower; in a 2008 study they found that limiting calories lowered production of T3, a thyroid hormone that slows metabolism—and speeds up the aging process.

Get busy

Having satisfying sex two to three times per week can add as many as three years to your life. Getting busy can burn an impressive amount of calories—sometimes as much as running for 30 minutes. (Which would you rather do?)

Regular sex may also lower your blood pressure, improve your sleep, boost your immunity, and protect your heart.

Turn off the TV

Too much time in front of the boob tube can take a serious toll on your health. In fact, a 2010 study found that people who watched four or more hours a day were 46% more likely to die from any cause than people who watched less than two hours a day.

Even cutting back a little can help; each additional hour you watch increases your overall risk of dying by 11% and dying from heart disease by 18%.

Stay out of the sun

Avoiding too much sun can head off skin cancer, and it can also keep you looking young by preventing wrinkles, fine lines, and saggy skin.

It’s never too early—or too late—to add sunscreen to your daily skin-care regimen (look for an SPF of 30 or higher). And don’t focus only on your face. Sun damage spots and splotches on your chest and neck will also make you appear older.

Reach out

Research shows that you’re at greater risk of heart disease without a strong network of friends and family. Loneliness can cause inflammation, and in otherwise healthy people it can be just as dangerous as having high cholesterol or even smoking.

Loneliness seems to pose the greatest risk for elderly people, who are also prone to depression.

Drink in moderation

Women who have two or more drinks a day and men who have three or more may run into detrimental effects ranging from weight gain to relationship problems. But in smaller quantities, alcohol can actually be good for you.

A 2010 study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology linked light drinking (defined as one drink a day for women and two for men) to significant heart benefits.

Eat fruits and vegetables

Getting fewer than three servings of fruits and vegetables a day can eat away at your health. Nutritional powerhouses filled with fiber and vitamins, fruits and veggies can lower your risk of heart disease by 76% and may even play a role in decreasing your risk of breast cancer.

As an added bonus, the inflammation-fighting and circulation-boosting powers of the antioxidants in fruits and veggies can banish wrinkles.

Focus on fitness

Daily exercise may be the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth. A 2008 study found that regular high-intensity exercise (such as running) can add up to four years to your life, which isn’t surprising given the positive effects working out has on your heart, mind, and metabolism.

Even moderate exercise—a quick, 30-minute walk each day, for example—can lower your risk of heart problems.

Don't smoke

Quitting smoking is perhaps the single most important thing you can do for your health—and your life span. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that women who quit smoking by age 35 add roughly six to eight years to their lives.

It’s never too late to kick the habit. Quitting can slow disease and increase survival odds even in smokers who have already caused significant damage to their lungs, like those with early lung cancer or COPD.

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GEORGIA ANGER
​MANAGEMENT


Happiness and Your Health

Find a happier and healthier you with a few simple strategies.

It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and lose sight of what makes you happy. Really happy. But making sure your happiness meter is giving optimal readings can provide many health benefits.

Happy people have younger hearts, younger arteries, and a younger RealAge. Happy people recover more quickly from surgery, cope better with pain, have lower blood pressure, and have longer life expectancy than unhappy people.

Studies also suggest that happy people may have stronger immune systems -- they're less likely to get colds and flu viruses. And when they do, their symptoms tend to be mild.

Not surprisingly, happy people are better at looking after their health, too. When people's happiness levels improve, so do their health behaviors. They exercise more, wear sunscreen, and go for regular checkups.

How to Get There

Everyone wants to be happy, and the benefits are clearly plentiful. But the fact is that people aren't always great at predicting what will make them happy. If it's long-term happiness you're after, you may need to learn a few new tricks.

What Is Happiness?

We all know when we're happy and when we're not. But ask a roomful of people what makes them happy and you're likely to get a wide range of responses, from "watching the sunset" or "spending time with good friends" to "finding a great shoe sale" or "winning the office football pool."

Defining happiness is no simple feat.

In an effort to narrow the definition, researchers have devised a series of questionnaires to measure life satisfaction, positive mood, and subjective well-being. Some scientists are even beginning to use brain imaging to better understand the physiology of happiness. And economists have jumped on the happiness bandwagon, too, hoping to calculate the value of happiness within a sociopolitical context.

So what have they discovered? What makes for a happy life?

It's Partly Your Genes

Your level of happiness is not entirely predetermined by your genes, but genes do play a part, just as they play a part in your general health. Some researchers estimate that as much as 40% to 50% of a person's capacity for happiness may be genetically predetermined. And although that means some lucky people may start off with a greater propensity for happiness, it's no guarantee they'll lead a charmed life. Fortunately, evidence suggests that even the gloomiest of us can learn to be happier.

And learn we must. Left to our own devices, we tend to focus our energies on things that will give us the greatest instant pleasure. Even when we know better.

Test Your Happiness Know-How

Think you know the secret to happiness? Check the happiness accuracy of some of these common answers. You might be surprised.

A Massage and Pamper Day at the Spa
Aahhh, yes. A day at the spa is not only pleasurable, it's also a great de-stressor. And keeping your stress levels under control will have a positive effect on your physical and emotional well-being.

Winning a Million Dollars
Winning a million bucks will make you instantly wealthy, that's for sure. But happy? Not so much. Read on to find out why money won't buy you bliss.

Renting a Beach House for a Week with Your Closest Friends
Spending quality time with good friends is one of the key components of a happy life. And taking time off to relax will also keep your stress levels low. But don't wait for rare opportunities like this to get together with your friends.

Losing 10 Pounds
It's important to your health and happiness to maintain a healthy weight. But yo-yo dieting and lose-weight-quick scams are likely to starve you of the happiness you're after.

World Peace
A noble aspiration, but you might want to start small—setting unrealistic goals may be a happiness deterrent. Do your part for peace by getting involved with an organization that promotes nonviolent conflict resolution or another peace-promoting issue you feel strongly about. Helping others and feeling a sense of purpose in life is linked to greater happiness.

Finally Getting the Garage Organized
It may not be glamorous but it certainly is gratifying. Cleaning out the clutter and creating a usable space will give you a sense of achievement that's guaranteed to boost your well-being.

Having Superhero Powers
Superhero powers would be super cool, without a doubt. But they might cause more stress than happiness. Plus, it's never going to happen. By focusing on more attainable goals, you'll be more likely to make them come true and that will make you happy.

A Long Walk (or Run) in the Park
Physical activity is a great way to instantly increase your sense of well-being. And by incorporating exercise into your daily routine you'll be both healthier and happier in the long run.

A Sharp Rise in the Value of Your Investments
It's wise to invest in your future but not so wise to link your happiness to the stock market. Contribute emotional capital to your relationships and personal growth and you may see a steady rise in your happiness levels.

Read on to find out more about what makes people happy, what doesn't, and what you can do to live a full and happy life.

Health and Happiness

Studies show that a person's health is one of the strongest predictors of happiness. But the link between health and happiness is complex. Research shows little correlation between a person's objective health -- as defined by medical assessment -- and happiness. It's our subjective health -- how we view our health -- that affects our well-being. So is happiness all in your head?

Not necessarily. For example, adverse changes in health do have a negative impact on happiness levels, at least temporarily. Poor health has the potential to significantly affect almost every aspect of your life: your independence, your self-image, your personal relationships, your ability to work and carry out basic daily activities. So it's no surprise that when your health takes a hit, your happiness does as well.

But people are resilient. We become accustomed to new life circumstances, good or bad. We adapt. Within a month or two of an adverse health event, most people have gravitated back toward the level of happiness they enjoyed before their health took a turn for the worse.

When the change in health status is severe, however -- for example, involving chronic pain or multiple disabilities -- the impact on happiness can be long lasting.

And both physical health and emotional health influence happiness. Mood disorders diminish quality of life even more than chronic physical ailments, such as arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes.

What You Can Do

Do all that you can to maintain a healthy lifestyle and you'll be well on your way to a long life rich in happiness. Taking the RealAge Test and following your RealAge Plan can get you started.

Be your healthiest and happiest by eating a balanced diet with lots of fruit and veggies, keeping stress levels to a minimum, getting regular checkups, wearing sunscreen, laughing often, moderating alcohol intake, getting plenty of exercise, and not smoking. Your RealAge Plan will provide more personalized detail on this.

Exercise not only helps keep you healthy but also keeps you happy. In general, increasing the amount of physical activity in your life increases well-being, whether it's yoga, weight training, or daily walks around the neighborhood. One study of nearly 7,000 men and women revealed that walking, jogging, or running between 11 and 19 miles per week was optimal for improving emotional well-being. But don't overdo it or underdo it. Moderate exercise offers the biggest boost in happiness.

And if you think you may be living with a mood disorder, get it treated. Appropriate treatment can help reduce your symptoms, increase your sense of well-being, and get you back on track to a happy life.

Social Side Up

Developing your social side is crucial for well-being. Studies show that people who are socially active, who are compassionate, and who are emotionally generous have higher levels of happiness and live longer than people who lead a more solitary life.

Research also shows that people who have strong interpersonal skills rank in the highest levels of happiness,  those who are socially isolated have substantially lower levels of well-being.

Social skills are just one part of this happiness factor, though. People who maintain good personal relationships also fare better than people who are socially inactive. Open, trusting, intimate relationships are essential building blocks for a happy life.

And it isn't only receiving support that makes us happy; it's being able to give support to others as well.

Perfect Pairs

Of course, many see marriage as one of the ultimate social relationships. But studies on marriage and happiness are somewhat conflicting, and the causal relationship between the two is unclear. On average, people who are married tend to report higher levels of happiness than people who are not married. Unmarried people in committed relationships also tend to be happier than people in casual relationships.

But it's not clear if this is because people who are predisposed to being happy are more likely to marry, or because marriage itself makes people happier, or if there is still some other yet-to-be-discovered dynamic at play between marriage and happiness. Although observational studies clearly show an association between well-being and relationships, there is no evidence to prove that one causes the other.

One theory for the correlation between happiness and marriage is that, compared with married people, people who aren't married tend to experience lower levels of social approval as well as fewer financial and social benefits. These factors may play a role in the lower levels of personal well-being reported by people who are not married.

What You Can Do

When important personal relationships come to an end, it can have a lasting negative impact on happiness. So use your energies to nurture the relationships that mean the most to you. Not all relationships are meant to be, of course, and getting out of a destructive relationship can do more for your health and happiness than staying in it. But if it is within your power to make a good relationship work, you have every reason to try.

Keep all of your other personal relationships healthy, vibrant, and strong by spending quality time with friends and family. Make a standing date with the people you love -- it'll give you something to look forward to and help relieve stress levels.

And while you're appreciating the people who are already near and dear, don't forget to welcome new friendships into your life.

Happiness and the Meaningful Life

According to the founding father of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, a happy life is one that is pleasurable, engaging, and meaningful. And the more engaging and meaningful, the better. Seligman suggests that people who focus their energies on leading an engaged and meaningful life are more successful at achieving lifelong happiness than those who focus on the transitory feel-goods of pleasure.

Research appears to support his theories. A recent study revealed that participants' subjective well-being was directly affected by the fulfillment they derived from the activities they spent most of their energy on, whether that was raising children, working, or volunteering. Research on aging shows that being actively involved in life is linked to increased levels of happiness.

What You Can Do

Spend more time doing what you love. Engaging in activities that are in line with your values and interests can improve your sense of well-being. If you feel as though you've lost touch with what those activities might be, think about what captivates you so entirely that you lose yourself in the moment and forget about your stress.

It's likely to be something you're good at that also provides you with a bit of a challenge or some kind of emotional reward. Some examples might be gardening, writing, painting, surfing, cycling, volunteering, or playing a musical instrument.

If you can make your activities social, all the better. Whereas personal hobbies, such as knitting, have been linked to an increase in happiness, social activities have been associated with an increase in both happiness and life expectancy.

As you focus on bringing meaning to your life, be sure to set realistic, attainable goals. People who do so report being happier than people who focus on grandiose long-term goals. Being able to realize goals that reflect your personal values and interests can help reinforce your sense of autonomy, purpose, and achievement. This has been shown to contribute significantly to overall well-being.

3 More Ways to Get Happy

1. Forget the Joneses

Social comparison is a natural part of human behavior, and it can be a healthy source of both motivation and affirmation. But taken to the extreme, social comparison can become an unhealthy, unhappy competition. Try not to compare your successes to others. Happiness researchers identify this as a key detractor to life satisfaction.

It can be especially harmful if you are making material comparisons. Some studies show that placing too much importance on material wealth can make people very unhappy.

Just as people adapt to bad situations, they also adapt to good ones. With each new pay raise or purchase, aspirations also increase. People get used to the good life. Once the initial thrill of extra income and the latest luxuries wears off, they want more. Another raise, a faster car, a bigger house.

It becomes a never-ending cycle that leaves people feeling perpetually unsatisfied.

2. Share Your Skills

Giving back to the community and helping others is linked to greater levels of happiness, particularly for people who are retired or not employed. Volunteering in your community can provide a valuable social interaction, increase your sense of purpose, and, yes, make you happier.

Check out the Network for Good Web site to search a database of volunteer organizations by zip code and area of interest.

3. Do Your Happiness Homework

Seligman and his happiness colleagues have devised and tested a number of exercises to help boost well-being. Here are several activities that have been found to be most effective:

  • Take note of what's good in your life. Literally. Studies show that people who spend a few minutes every evening writing down what went well each day show a significant increase in well-being.
  • Tone-up your signature strengths. Signature strengths are the things you're really good at. Discover your signature strengths at www.authentichappiness.com. Once you know what your strengths are, try using one of them in a new way every day for a week.
  • Give gratitude. Write a letter of thanks to someone who has been particularly good to you or has had a profound impact on your life. Once the letter is written, deliver it personally to the recipient. If your gratitude letter has a long distance to travel, call the recipient to make sure it was received and tell the person on the phone how much you appreciate his or her presence in your life.

No More Mystery

There is no mysterious magical formula that you have to follow exactly in order to achieve happiness. Happiness is a personal journey of self-discovery. What makes you happy is not necessarily the same as what makes your friend, your partner, or your son or daughter happy.

Experimenting with key happiness factors will help you find the combination that works for you. Just be sure to take stock now and then to see how your emotional health is doing. It's worth your time and attention. Not only does your health benefit from it, but there's nothing like a contented smile, a look of ease, and a few sexy laugh lines to make you look -- and feel -- years younger.

RealAge Benefit: Taking care of your emotional health and well-being can make your RealAge up to 16 years younger.

Call Georgia Anger Management at 678-662-7066 or visit us at www.georgiaangermanagement.com to  learn more and be happy.