Staying in the Flow, Yet Taking Time for You

hazy clouds duskAs I move from clinical practice into my new venture, I get into the “flow” much more often. This flow is the state of being so involved and immersed in what I’m doing that time doesn’t matter. I’ll look up at the clock after what feels like 10 minutes and realize that 3 hours have passed! This state is one of being constantly present.

It’s not like I don’t notice things around me – I do. But when I’m in this immersed state, it is easier to ignore things that would have side-tracked me before. I know that those things will still be around when I’m done with my current project.

The problem is that I get so immersed that I end up “working” sometimes over 12 hours a day! I put working in quotation marks because for the most part, I am enjoying what I am doing, so it doesn’t feel like work, even though I may get paid for doing what I am doing. However, working that much means that I am not taking time for self-care! That’s a no-no!

About 2 weeks ago, I was looking at my calendar and calculating just how much time per day I was spending doing work projects. That’s when I realized that I was working too much! It didn’t feel like I was, but whether or not I am enjoying myself, it’s essential that I take time out for renewal and recharging. I know that eventually, working that many hours will lead to burn-out.

Now, I set the alarm on my phone to alert me at various intervals to stop and stretch, eat (yes, I have to remind myself to eat!), and check in with the rest of the world. I also now have an alarm that goes off at 5pm, which means that I have to find a stopping point and actually stop for the day. It’s hard sometimes, but I find that when I do make myself stop, I end up doing things for myself and end the day feeling relaxed and accomplished.

Whether you like your work or not, it’s very important to keep regular hours and to include self-care in every day!

Namaste’.

Self-Care and Recovery from Postpartum Depression

coordinator-cor-meyerToday’s Self-Care Month Guest Post is courtesy of Linda Meyer. Linda is a mother of two, a Postpartum Depression survivor and a Missouri Co-Coordinator for Postpartum Support International. Thank you for your words of wisdom, Linda!

The term self-care was not even on my radar as a new mom. You give birth and this becomes your 24 hr/day job until eternity, right? No more lazy mornings, naps, lingering showers, uninterrupted meals, or socializing with friends.

Imagine that you are performing a monotonous mommy routine all day every day without thinking about yourself or your needs; you’re losing yourself.  Three months postpartum, motherhood became tremendously more difficult and overwhelming than I ever imagined. In fact, I was not in love with my new role, completely unaware that I was actually suffering from Postpartum Depression (PPD).  I did eventually seek help (not an easy task!). After receiving a diagnosis, I began working with a healthcare provider and a therapist, and self-care became instrumental in my recovery.

Here are some simple self-care suggestions for the new mom:

  • Get out by yourself without your baby (It’s okay to do this, I promise!)
  • Shower/get dressed
  • Eat a healthy diet and exercise
  • Talk with a therapist/counselor (important for emotional distress)
  • Stay in touch with supportive friends (or make new friends)
  • Sneak in a date night every so often
  • Occasionally ask a relative/friend to take your baby overnight (It’s okay to do this, really!)

It doesn’t matter if you choose to do one or several steps listed here. Choose whatever makes you happy, helps you relax and reminds you of the person you were before you became MOM.

February is Self-Care Month! Help Us Celebrate!

Buddha

We’ve deemed February as Self-Care Month! It’s a great time to do special things for YOU! Valentine’s Day focuses on relationships, but our February focuses on love for the Self.

We’re looking for a few good women to be guest bloggers on Saturdays during February. Have you got something to say about the importance of self-care? Have you established a self-care regimen that works for you? Do you have questions and would like to hear feedback from our readers? Have you made a video about self-care or wellness that you’d like to share? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then please contact us using the form below!

Guidelines:

You may re-post things from your own blog or site (and we’ll put a link in your post to direct readers to your site), write something original or post something that someone else wrote along with your reaction to it (make sure to include any relevant links to the original article/author). Basically, our website is your canvas to paint whatever you’d like as long as it pertains to self-care, self-compassion, self-love, wellness, mind/body health or any other POSITIVE mental health topic.

We look forward to hearing from you, ladies! Let’s share the love in February!

Big Changes

Diane will be back posting next Monday after she gets back from her fabulous trip  to Spain! Hopefully we’ll get to hear all about it!

In the meantime, I wanted to share an experience of my own with you. My family and I recently decided that it was time for my mother to move in with us for several reasons. I felt such a mixture of emotions at the thought: happiness because I’ll see her more and because I’ll be there if she needs anything medically; apprehension because of our past relationship (though it has since been healed); and wariness that I might fall back into my childhood relationship patterns with her.

She’s only been here a couple of days and I have to keep myself from treating her like a guest. My impulse is to ask, “Can I do something or get something for you?” In reality, all she wants is to find her own way and settle into her own routine that is harmonious with ours. My offers to do things for her would just enable her to be more dependent than independent, and neither of us want that.

We have agreed on a code of complete honesty, even if that may mean hurt feelings. We have discovered the hard way through the years that mind reading is just not possible!

This is a big change for all of us, and I struggle to remember that. Holding myself back from offering things and allowing myself to be calm in spite of my mother’s habitual anxiety is a challenge. But my intuition is telling me that this is a good situation, so I’m focusing on an attitude of gratitude instead of stressing out. It’s not easy, but I am worth it – and so are YOU!

Instant BFFs: Is it Possible?

Have you ever encountered someone that you’ve never met before, but it seems like you’ve known them forever? Someone that you knew within the first 5 minutes of talking to him/her that you want to be in his/her life (in friendship or romantic relationship)? If you have, you know how rare that is. If you haven’t, let me tell you about it!

Recently, I was on a writing assignment and went to interview my source for the story. The interview went very well and we were both professional. After the “official” work was over, this young lady and I sat around talking about this and that; it was surface chit-chat, but I felt as if I could tell her my deepest secrets – and I had only just met her!

It turns out that she had experienced the same phenomenon with me, and we found ourselves contacting each other to find ways to hang out. She’s a volunteer with a local animal charity, so I signed up too. I have made time to help out on 2 occasions so far, and while I enjoy working with the animals and people, it is nice to have extra time with my new friend!

If one of us is not feeling well, the other will offer (and mean it) to cook chicken soup or go to the store for remedies. If one of us is having a crisis, we instinctively contact each other. Keep in mind that I have known this woman for less than a month.

Somehow, I just know that I can trust her and that I can count on her. I also know that I feel a deep loyalty to her and will make myself available whenever I am able when she needs something. How can someone I just met feel like a best friend? How can such a short relationship feel like it’s taken years to build and cultivate?

I firmly believe that people are put in our lives for a reason: to teach us lessons, to see us through a crisis or victory, to be there when we need them. My “new” friend and I joke that we are long-lost sisters, but I know without a doubt that she is supposed to be in my life and I am grateful to have found her!

What Is Happiness – Really?

A friend recently directed me to a website called The Happiness Project. Basically, it chronicles a woman’s quest to find happiness in several areas of her life. She is very insightful and has some great ideas!

Happiness is something everyone aspires to, but have you given any thought to what happiness means to YOU? 99% of my clients list “to be happy” as one of their goals for therapy. When I ask them what “happy” means, I usually get confused or blank looks.

Happy means feeling happy, right? Well, do you think it’s possible to feel happy 100% of the time? Even the spiritually enlightened, such as Eckhart Tolle in modern days, and Buddha in times past, acknowledge that all feelings are fleeting – even happiness. So if it is not possible to feel happy all the time, how does one achieve the goal of “to be happy?”

I usually ask my clients to think of a time when they felt really happy, joyous even. I ask how long that feeling lasted. I have gotten answers anywhere from “a few minutes” to “a couple of weeks,” but no one has even said that the feeling was permanent. As I ask them to dissect that memory and feeling, setting the actual joy aside, most people come to the conclusion that inner peace and/or contentment is what lingered the longest.

The grand question is, “How do I get inner peace?” I wish I had a single answer that would work for everyone or have access to a magic pill. Since I don’t, let me tell you what I have learned from my clients and my own experiences. First, realize how little control you really have over your life. The only thing you have the ability to control is your own behavior. You can’t control other people, circumstances or events. So, if you are unhappy in some area of your life, either change your own behavior or work on accepting the fact that it is what it is and you can’t change it. Once you get a firm grasp of this concept, techniques such as meditation, yoga, aerobic exercise and mindfulness will be helpful in acquiring the inner peace you seek. Once you stop trying to control everything, you’ll free up some inner resources that can help lighten your emotional load.

 

Web Therapy: New Options for New Moms

If any of you have seen Web Therapy starring Lisa Kudrow on Showtime, then you know that this type of interaction is possible (though we hope no counselor is as awful as Kudrow’s character). Therapy is indeed coming into the 21st Century, with resources available to folks that may have had none before.

Regroup Therapy is one such example of how resources are reaching out to new moms instead of them having to research, coordinate and get to a therapist’s office. Regroup offers both group and individual sessions from the comfort of your own home or office. Each group and session is led by a licensed mental health professional with extensive training in the field of perinatal mood disorders. Clients just need a computer with a web cam, a microphone and head phones or earbuds, which most modern machines come equipped with.

This service is useful in many situations. Folks who live far away from any resources, moms who may be just too depressed to get to an appointment, new moms who want a group experience where no groups are available, and even moms who like the less personal interaction with a therapist on the computer screen can all benefit from Regroup’s services.

I am proud to be a part of Regroup, and ask that you spread the word to anyone who may benefit from a service like this. Please take a look at our website and stay tuned for exciting new things to come! Therapy can be a very vital part of self-care, and with Regroup, it can be much easier, too!

 

Regroup: We Bring the Support to You

Buying “Stuff”: Necessity or Luxury?

I think we all can agree that our American society is more consumer-oriented now than ever before in history. Whether you call it “keeping up with the Joneses” or “retail therapy,” the things that used to be luxuries are starting to be perceived as necessities. Cable TV used to be something wealthy people had when I was growing up. Now, if you don’t have cable, you must live in a cave! One of the biggest problems with this attitude is that many people are sacrificing their financial self-care for buying “stuff.”

I was reading last week’s People Magazine and came upon a blurb about purses. Apparently a designer named Jil Sander took some plain brown paper bags, stamped them with her name, and put them on boutique shelves with a price tag of $290.00. Guess what? She can’t keep them on the shelves because they are selling so well! These are brown paper bags, people! They are the kind we pack “sack lunches” or carry our groceries in! Consumerism has obviously gotten out of hand.

Jil Sander’s $290 paper bag “Vasari” purse

It is difficult to find someone who is debt-free these days. Some debts are just necessary, such as a mortgage, school loans and even car loans. But if you’re paying off a $290 brown paper bag purse, you are neglecting your financial self-care! There are so many financial advice gurus out there that I’m not going to attempt to explain any remedies for debt. I am, however, going to encourage you to really think about each purchase you make on your credit card(s). Stop and look closely at the item, then ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” This simple process can help keep those credit card balances down to a reasonable amount.

When we talk about self-care, many people get mental pictures of women getting manicures and massages (which is great if you can afford it). But there’s so much more to self-care than that. You can apply it to every area of your life, including your financial responsibilities. So, stop trying to keep up with the Joneses (or Kardashians) and live within the parameters of your/your family’s individual situation. No one is in your exact situation, but modeling fiscal responsibility sure can make them want to keep up with YOU!

A Different Take on 9/11

The 9/11 tragedy affected so many people on so many different levels. Of course, there was loss, hatred, patriotism, conspiracy and a myriad of other feelings and consequences that came out of the loss of the World Trade Center in 2001. But what about the people who have birthdays and anniversaries on this significant date? What do they experience every year?

Dora* and Andrew* will have been married 11 years on September 11, 2012. They were married in a modest ceremony in a small town in southeast Texas. They had seriously considered postponing the wedding after watching what had happened that morning. Their friends and family convinced them to go ahead with the weekday wedding, as they didn’t know when Andrew would be available again. He had an offshore job that took him away from home for weeks at a time.

“Even 10 years after the whole World Trade Center thing, we get strange looks if we’re out celebrating our anniversary at a restaurant. We’ve even had one guy tell us that we were heartless for having a good time!” Andrew recalls. “When is this ever going to stop?”

Dora and Andrew are by no means alone. Over 10,000 babies were born on September 11, 2001. As it was a weekday, not as many weddings took place. However in 2004, when 9/11 fell on a Saturday, 8,000 weddings were held across the country. Reasons for choosing this date range from “taking back that day as a happy one,” to “honoring a fallen loved one.”

While birth dates are not as widely chosen as happen by chance, children born on that fateful day will turn 11 years old this year. Amanda*, a rambunctious 4th grader, has always known that something was different about her birthday. “Sometimes, people are sad on my birthday,” she says, frowning. “But everybody at my party is happy!” Her mother, Sandy*, says that she has experienced all kinds of reactions to party invitations she sends home with Amanda’s classmates. “I had one mom call me and yell at me once,” she remembers. “She asked me how I could be so thoughtless – like I had any say in when my daughter was born!” Most people are very gracious, Sandy says. “They realize this is a little girl’s birthday party and nothing else. Amanda hasn’t ever had a bad experience with her birth date.”

Perhaps the country will always mourn each year when September 11 rolls around. But for 10,000 kids and countless couples, that date will be special to them for entirely different – and joyous – reasons.

*Names have been changed for privacy reasons

Welcome to the Holiday Season!?

Labor Day has come and gone, signaling the commercial commencement of “The Holidays.” Every year, I feel a little nauseous the first time I see Christmas/Hanukkah items displayed in a store in late-August/early-September. It’s sad, really. I remember a time when “holiday time” started after Halloween and consisted more of family gatherings instead of the shop-fest that it has become.

Instead of reiterating a bunch of advice about avoiding holiday stress, let me instead ask how can you make this early Fall more self-focused? The kids are off at school. Things are slowly starting to settle down. Do you find yourself settling down as well or are you immediately jumping ahead to planning Thanksgiving dinner?

One of the first pieces of advice I remember ever giving my daughter was, “Don’t believe everything you see on TV.” The same goes for all of society’s mass outlets – TV, radio, Internet and stores themselves. If the merchants were to have it their way, we’d buy back-to-school clothes, Halloween candy and costumes, huge turkey dinners, Christmas/Hanukkah gifts and holiday dinners, one right after the other. Family? What family?

As you send your kiddos off to school today, I challenge you to avoid the media – avoid the hype. See what a pre-Fall day can be like with just your thoughts about things, not influenced or controlled what you “should be” thinking forward to. Staying in the present moment is a tried-and-true method for reducing anxiety and tension. So, when you look at right now, what do you see? Thanksgiving? Christmas? Or just September 6, 2012, ready to bring you whatever it brings? This is YOUR “holiday season,” whether it’s already started or not – do what’s best for YOU and YOUR family!

Happy September!