Monday, January 13, 2020
Now that the holidays are over and we can slow down a little. The New Year often brings New Year’s Resolutions with it. Now would be a good time to start some self-care. But what is self-care? Self-care has become a trendy term that is thrown around all the time. Many people believe that self-care includes getting pedicures, manicures, hot baths, massages and facials. All of these things are nice and who doesn’t want to be pampered? However, is that really self-care?
The things listed above can be included in self-care but I think that self-care is much deeper than that. Self-care includes taking care of our mental, emotional and physical self. Things like planning, making budgets and living within our means are included in self-care. I believe that we also need to include things like journaling, getting enough sleep, drinking water, listening to music that we enjoy, exercise and going outside in our self-care toolbox. Self-care should be something that you plan on doing for yourself because you enjoy it. Self-care should not be another box to check off the to do list. It is important to note that self-care is not being selfish. In her article, This is What ‘Self-Care’ REALLY Means, Because It’s Not All Salt Baths and Chocolate Cake, Brianna Wiest states “True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from”.
Setting the goal of incorporating self-care into our lives can start out small. We do not have to make large changes in our lives to get benefits from those changes. Try adding one new self-care skill to your day and practice this for a week, then try adding another small self-care skill to your week.
Tiffany Hayner, LMSW
Wednesday, December 11, 2019
As we find ourselves deep in holiday plans, shopping, wrapping and decorating, we may at times be overwhelmed with the idealized images of the perfect holiday blasted at us from all directions. We unfortunately can easily feel a sense of shame when our own lives don’t seem to conform to those images. Rather than filling us with joy, the holiday season can feel like a humiliating experience. No one deliberately shames us. No one intends us to feel bad about ourselves. But when we’re not with our families or we find ourselves alone, we often feel ashamed all the same. This type of shame lies beneath the depression that can afflict many of us at this time of year.
Brené Brown has described the perfectionistic ideals and expectations imposed upon us by society, and how the inevitable failure to reach those ideals instills a sense of shame; with all those happily-ever-after Christmas movies, Hallmark sentimentality, and carols about joy and love and family, our culture likewise imposes a set of expectations for how your own holiday season ought to “look.” During the holiday season, this sense of shame can easily be intensified by well-meaning colleagues or acquaintances who ask where you’re spending your holidays. Disconnection and a feeling that one does not “belong” will always stir up shame. Rather than go into hiding, as many of us tend to do, we instead can work to build up shame resilience. Building shame resilience can be especially important during this time of year.
Brene’ Brown suggests four ways:
1. Recognize shame when we feel it. Once you know what trips you up and mires you in feelings of shame, you can begin to manage the triggers and learn healthier responses.
2. Recognize our social and cultural expectations and how we react to shame.
3. Connections—make meaningful empathetic and compassionate connections with others. There are many ways to belong. There are many opportunities to volunteer and connect with other people. Getting outside yourself and giving to the needy will not only lessen your sense of holiday shame but brings the added bonus of building your shame resilience.
4. Share it—speak about that which is most shameful to us—shame cannot survive exposure.
Unfortunately shame is not something that we can just get rid of. Shame resilience is an ongoing practice.
Tuesday, October 8, 2019
How often in our day to day lives do we say something that when we later reflect on it we wish we had not said. Or how often do we send negative messages to ourselves, yet we would never say those same messages to our loved ones?
In our daily lives we are influenced by either our friends, family members, or social media. The messages we receive and take in often influence how we speak about other people or speak to ourselves. As a child and even into my college days I always struggled with tests. I would often tell myself I wasn’t going to get a good grade, or if I got a bad grade on a test I would tell myself I was stupid. It was not until later in my college experience when I began to change the message I said to myself. I would always repeat “I’ll be happy with a passing grade.” Once I began changing that inner message I began to do better with my tests. I hadn’t changed my study skills or how I interacted in class, I just changed a negative message I was telling myself to a positive one.
Sometimes it is hard to switch a negative message that we send to ourselves or to someone we care about to a positive one. Often we have to look within ourselves and see why we say what we say. One way we can start to change the messages are with positive affirmations. Positive affirmations are reminders or statements to ourselves that can encourage or motivate ourselves or others. Affirmations can be as simple as a message on your bathroom mirror or the screensaver on your phone. Some people have a pattern of where they say the same affirmation every night before bed. I have provided links below of examples of positive affirmations.
Carmen Stites, LPC
Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Mindfulness. What does that really mean? There are many different aspects of mindfulness and many different perceptions of what it means. In our culture today we are constantly stimulated and feel that “more is better.” We are “crazy busy” even though we are surrounded with devices and conveniences that were invented to “make our lives easier.” Mindfulness is about putting down all the balls that we are juggling and embracing the beauty of monotasking.
There are health benefits associated with mindfulness that include alleviating depression, anxiety, and pain. It can also decrease our flight or fight response and increase our ability to pay attention. Many of us feel that being busy helps us to feel productive but research shows that if we are in a relaxed alert state we actually perform better. We are also more productive.
So how do we integrate moments of stillness, mindfulness, or meditation in our lives? It takes practice and commitment. Start small by taking a minute in the morning to wake up, take in the smell, and the scenery. Take time to land in your day and notice all the things that are stimulating your senses. Go through each of your 5 senses and identify what you see, taste, hear, smell, and touch. Life is beautiful so take time and literally smell the roses.
April Moedl LCSW
Wednesday, August 7, 2019
Sometimes it is very hard for kids to remember to use skills to help them feel calm if they are feeling stressed or angry. Many times, they are struggling to express and communicate their feelings. It is very important for all of us to be able to take a step back if we are getting frustrated and our emotions are escalating. Strong emotions can take over and then we are in trouble because they are running us and we are not in control anymore.
It is good for kids to learn skills to help them know it is ok to take a break and implement tools they may need to help them get their emotions lowered and their mind back on track. I am going to share a great way to help kids do this and hopefully it will help you at the same time.
Helping kiddos make a Calming Skills Box to have in their room or somewhere they would like in the house is a very helpful tool. You can prompt them to use it as needed and talk to them about what they would like you to do to help them remember to use the box.
Steps to create Calming Skills Box:
- Get a box (there are great picture boxes at the craft stores or a shoebox would work well – whatever works for you).
- Let your child decorate the box so they can make it their own. and write CALMING SKILLS BOX on the lid.
- Identify several skills that your child feels would be helpful for them to take a break and increase their ability to feel calm. Either print a picture of someone doing this skill or put the supplies to use to complete this skill in the box.
o Coloring (put crayons and coloring pages in the box)
o Deck of Card
o Picture of someone taking deep breaths
o Little notebook for a feelings journal and pencil or pen
o Picture of someone listening to music
o Word search
o Write a story
o Picture of a calm relaxing place to imagine they are in.
o Picture of someone doing stretches
o Pet their animal
o Read positive quotes
Create a book or flip cards of the pictures to put into the box so that your child can look at them. It is hard to remember what skills to use if you are feeling nervous, scared, frustrated, sad or angry. Each child is different so the skills will be different for each child. That is why it is important to do this with your child and not just do it for them.
One of the most important parts of this tool is for us as parents and adults to be able to take a step back too. We should not expect our kids to do this if we are unable to. Then prompt your child to try to use the box or remember some of the skills from the box and allow the child to use the skills that you have been working on with them. I hope that these tools will help you and your child manage stress and create good skills they can use for a lifetime.
Sue Rosenbaum, LCSW
Monday, July 1, 2019
What is respect? The Webster dictionary defines it as having high or special regards. Most people learn respect in their homes, churches, youth organizations, etc., but it is tough for some people to understand what self-respect is and where it comes from. Self-respect comes from within and not from our surroundings, achievements, or appearance. When a person respects himself or herself then others will respect them. To start respecting ourselves we first need to realize that we all have self-worth and are valuable no matter what. No one can take away a person’s self-worth because it is something that we are all born with and it is important in helping a person define their path in life. Let us take a dollar bill for example. A dollar bill is worth $1, but if that dollar is stepped on, crumpled up, or ripped then how much is that dollar worth then? The answer is that it is still worth $1. The value of that dollar does not change because of what has happened to it. That is just like us, we go through life and have experiences that are hard on us and they can leave visible and nonvisible scars. No matter what we have been through or what scars we have, we are still valuable and need to realize that so we can respect ourselves. Once a person starts to respect himself or herself then others will start showing them more respect too, which will help that person be happier and go farther in life.
David Homer, LCSW
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
How is it that some people can thrive after a traumatic event and others seem to be stuck forever? Dr. Edith Egar survived living in a Nazi concentration camp. Following her liberation from Auschwtiz death camp, she has learned how to overcome the guilt and grief of surviving when so many others did not and she has liberated herself from her trauma. Dr. Egar has found a way to embrace hope and forgive others. Dr. Egar has four questions that she asks to help herself and her clients move forward and build a new life after experiencing trauma. The questions appear simple at first but one soon learns that answering them takes self-reflection and soul searching. The four questions are:
- What do you want? This question is harder than it looks. To find an answer, it is necessary to look deep within, stripping away layers of self-delusions and the needs and wants of others.
- Who wants it? Are we defining ourselves through the expectations of others?
- What are you going to do about it? Dr. Egar notes that, “Anything we practice, we become better at. If we practice anger, we will have more anger. If we practice fear, we’ll have more fear.” Are we moving toward our goals, or spending lots of energy just spinning our wheels? “Change is about noticing what’s no longer working and stepping out of the familiar, imprisoning patterns.”
- When? Plans are great; but if we never start walking, we never reach our destination. Dr. Egar relates “If we are to evolve instead of revolve, it’s time to take action now.”
To learn more you can read Dr. Egar’s book The Choice or visit her website at https://dreditheger.com
by Tiffany Hayner LMSW