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I was visiting with my cousin at my mother’s annual holiday party when he commented to me he was glad to have “endured” Christmas. I told him that once his children were older, like mine who are now 22 and 18, he would enjoy the holiday more. I recalled how I felt after decorating, shopping, wrapping, and celebrating with the girls in tow, and how my joy was tempered by exhaustion.
Our self-care tip this post-holiday week is to rest and recharge your battery. Don’t put pressure on yourself for playdates, taking the children out or visiting friends and family unless that’s easier for you. Resist preparing gourmet meals, downloading holiday pictures or catching up on errands. You have the entire year ahead.
What to do instead? Rest. Restore. Recharge. No child has ever died from a diet of hot dogs and macaroni. In fact, many of them prefer it. They will gladly wear the same clothes and don’t care if their rooms are a mess. Also, let them entertain themselves. What about the new toys they took seconds to unwrap? They can play with them!
For a healthy and happy new year, you need to have the energy to enjoy it. As Ann and I always say, you must keep your pitcher filled to take care of yourself and those you love. Don’t run yourself ragged like little Spudgy and miss out on the fun. Give yourself a break this week. You deserve it. And get some sleep.
You just wrapped up your holiday festivities and this years’ “fun” has left you more stressed than ever. It’s time to find your happy place.
Your happy place is the place you go when you need to rejuvenate. It can be your bath tub or your favorite chair where you can escape with a good book. And if your happy place is a beach in Aruba where you know you can’t literally go, escape there in your mind. The point is you need to get to that happy place and you really should visit daily. Some experts say taking just 15 minutes a day for YOU can make all the difference in the world in your outlook and your health. Don’t think you have 15 minutes for you? Well, if you believe it’s simply not possible, you’ll be right. But imagine how sweet it would be if you were wrong on this one!
Think about all the things you consider important in life. Shouldn’t you be on that list? Where do you go to escape the stress of daily life? Tell me about it and inspire other moms to find their happy place, too.
Today’s guest author is Desiree Miller, mom of 4, who developed her motherhood expertise into a baby planning business, www.bottlestobritches.com.
As Ann and I said many times during the 21-day self-care challenge, 15 minutes is a great start toward filling your emotional pitcher and making your health and well-being a priority. Go Desiree.
What is spirituality? It can be a feeling of intense peace, a true connection with God or whatever your higher power is, or a complete faith that no matter what happens you will be okay. Everyone has the potential for feeling spiritual but if you want it, you have to encourage its growth inside you.
Twenty years ago, during a time of turmoil in my life, I was talking with a very good friend. He is the kindest, calmest, happiest, most spiritual person I know. I told him I wanted what he had. He told me I could not have his, and that I had to find my own. I was dismayed. Why couldn’t he just give me some?
So I learned that spirituality involves becoming aware of your unique spirit which is different for each human being. It is your journey to find yourself. It is recognizing that there is a spirit within you which is part of a higher power that extends everywhere.
It is learning to be kind and caring to yourself and others you do and don’t know. It means letting go of judgmentalism, negativism, and selfishness. Ultimately, it leads to understanding that all living things are connected to one another because all are aspects of divine consciousness.
As Chief Seattle said,
“Man did not weave the web of life
He is merely a strand of it
Whatever he does to the web
He does to himself.”
Real Mom Ariel
Let your spirituality shine inside and out.
Today’s author is Ariel Martin, M.A., Pastoral Care Director and Counselor.
The holidays often sucks us into the gimmes, just like our kids, as we make the holidays happen. We easily lose track of the underlying message of the season for our kids. Consider these focused activities to reconnect with the holiday lessons:
1) CHOOSE actively, in line with your values. Stop and consider what you want to teach about the holiday season. You might want to say no if an event is too commercial, or detracts from planned family time. It’s fine to focus on fun–and opt out if an event is more drudgery or duty than pleasure. This is your holiday, too, and you have the right to celebrate it in a way that is meaningful and enjoyable for you. What a good example for your children!
2) INVOLVE everyone in the process of giving, helping small children pick out toys for the holiday toy drive, donate from their piggy banks to the bell ringer at the grocery, or make macaroni necklaces for favorite aunts or sitters. Older children might perform a chore, or sing/perform on an instrument for neighbors, visiting family, or residents of a senior living community.
3) READ one book about your spiritual perspective and traditions nightly. Every library has a children’s librarian eager to suggest new (or old favorite) titles. On the subject of reading, consider a classic book as a gift each year. Building a personal library for a child fosters a lifelong love of reading, one value to focus on that continues throughout the year.
The holidays are here with fun-filled and stress-filled times sandwiched together, not unlike raising children, work, marriage and other life pursuits. So, here are some recommendations to make the holidays calmer and happier.
First, have realistic expectations of yourself. Many of us feel disappointed because our “fairytale images” don’t materialize. Instead, focus on feeling good from the inside out. Build a fire and roast marshmallows, shop with a friend, or take a long walk in the woods. Meditate, workout, read, or listen to music. Feed your soul.
Second, have realistic expectations of others. No one’s family or friends are perfect, and the holidays won’t change this. Since we can’t change them, we need to rely on ourselves to gather what’s positive and let go of the negative. Create new family traditions so they don’t stir up bad memories. If a situation becomes too negative, leave.
Likewise, don’t take relationship stress too personally. If your partner snaps about household clutter because they’re stringing Christmas lights while baking cookies, understand it’s their problem. Don’t let them take their bad mood out on you but don’t react poorly either. After all, love is the true intention of the season and it starts with you.
I just got back from a wonderful week of meditation and yoga with Deepak Chopra and the amazing Chopra Center teachers. In it, they talked about how each day corresponds to one of “7 Spiritual Laws of Success,” and ways to practice each law on a given day.
So, here’s my first gift for you-ideas from Deepak Chopra about how to put Monday’s law, the “Law of Giving” into practice.
1. Bring everyone you come in contact with today a gift. For example, a smile, compliment or hug. Be creative. Material gifts count too but research shows that affection, attention and acceptance nourish our souls most.
2. Be grateful for all life’s gifts like the sun, the flowers and waking up in the morning. Be open to receiving gifts from others whether it’s a material gift, compliment or kind remark. Let it soak in.
3. Keep the ultimate “wealth in life” -love, affection and caring ” circulating through giving and receiving which work in unison to keep the energy of the universe flowing. Send lovingkindness silently to everyone you meet.
My second gift to you is to encourage you to sign up for the Chopra Center’s 21-Day meditation challenge “Free to Love” which starts today. Each day has a guided meditation, inspiration and practical tips about improving your health and well-being. Don’t pressure yourself about this. Be open-minded and take from it what works for you. That’s all.
There have been certain times in my life that were more challenging than others. Challenges not only make you stronger, but they force you to get out of your normal and comfortable routine. Without challenges in our lives there is no room for growth or opportunity for gratitude.
My experience with postpartum depression was negative and frightening, but I am thankful that it created the stronger, better, mom and person I am now. I am thankful that my experience led me to help other moms struggling with the same feelings and let them know that they are not alone. I am thankful to have met so many wonderful people on my life’s journey.
Think about people you have met in your lifetime, the influence that each and every one of them has had on your life. Let someone know that you appreciate them. Thank someone for their time or kind gesture. Think about things you are you thankful for: a pet, flowers in your garden, the opportunity to travel. Giving thanks is a powerful positive message that can become part of your daily routine and improve your life. I didn’t learn to give thanks; it was something I created within myself. There are many benefits to giving thanks. Express gratitude today and always.
Linda Meyer is the Executive Director of Mother to Mother in St. Louis, MO. Mother to Mother provides free telephone support, group support and resources to women experiencing emotional difficulties during pregnancy and postpartum.
Last week, our theme for the self-care challenge was expressing gratitude and thankfulness. Many of you commented that you liked Friday’s challenge which was to send gratitude to others by “choosing someone you want to express thanks to for what they’ve done, who they are or what they mean to you. It can be someone you’re close to or someone you may have fallen out of touch with. Let your heart and soul decide.
Then message that person via e-mail or Facebook, text them, make a call or send a note. Once they receive your message, ask them to choose someone to express their gratitude towards and contact them. The goal is to connect as many people as possible with thankfulness and appreciation, keeping the true spirit of the season alive. Let’s see how many cities, states, and countries we can reach and how far our message can spread.”
Since Thanksgiving is Thursday, we hope you’ll make this a weeklong activity. Let family and friends know your gratitude for them. Perform random acts of kindness like smiling at the grocery clerk or saying “Hi” to a neighbor. When someone is thoughtful towards you, show them your appreciation. Did you know that when you are kind or someone is thoughtful towards you, it improves your and their health and mood? It also has a positive influence on those observing.
Join us on twitter and Facebook for conversation and support in spreading an attitude of gratitude. Best to all of you!
This past weekend, I participated in a training for Mother to Mother, our free volunteer phone support program for pregnant and post-birth moms in Missouri. One conversation which stood out for me was how surviving postpartum depression (PPD) can help us become stronger and more confident. Not that anyone would willingly choose this, but sometimes it chooses us.
Experiencing mild depression after my first baby, took me by surprise. After completing my doctoral degree, getting my psychology license, and seeing 30 clients a week, I thought I could handle anything. Certainly, motherhood couldn’t be more challenging. How wrong I was!
As a new mom I doubted myself about many things, including if I’d made the biggest mistake of my life. I felt incompetent, inadequate and that I wasn’t “good enough” to be the mom my daughter deserved. I thought sleep, self-care and sex were permanently gone. On bad days I was convinced life as I knew it was over and I’d be trapped in motherhood hell forever.
But gradually, the landscape changed. Surviving the ups, downs and uncertainties of new motherhood, I emerged feeling stronger and self-assured. More capable of meeting life’s changes. Empowered with renewed strength and confidence.
For all moms, including those with PPD, listen now to “The Princess Who Saved Herself. It is a reminder and affirmation that while others may help us through challenging and stressful times, making our way through the darkness is ultimately what saves us.