Summer Time Depression



Dealing with summertime anxiety and depression is a lot like dealing with a summer flu. Feeling freaked out or down is never convenient but somehow when it’s sunny and warm out it’s even worse! Here are some tips to walk it back from the edge. Then contact us! We want to help.

Meet Nicole Chumsky, your Mindfulness Hike Leader



Mindfulness Hike-3This week I registered to take part in Nicole’s Mindfulness Hike Retreat in July. As an associate at Explore What’s Next, Nicole has deepened her knowledge and clinical practice in mindfulness-based psychotherapy, meditation, and is working on her trauma-informed yoga teacher certification. She came up with this creative concept of taking the classroom outdoors and into the woods. Join me in a chat with Nicole to learn more about her Mindfulness Hike Retreats. ~Dr. Aletta

Dr. A.: How did you come up with this great idea?

Nicole: Honestly, I just want everyone to experience the joy and contentment you can cultivate once you learn how to be mindful! To boot, nature has such a positive impact on my mindfulness and my life. I love to go backpacking because it’s my time to unplug from the busy-ness of life. I get to just be in the moment, clear my head, notice and appreciate everything around me.

Mindfulness is a simple concept but it can be difficult to get started. It might take a while to feel its effects. Knowing this has been a barrier for some people I work with, I thought it would be beneficial to be fully immersed in the practice for longer than one 50 minute session. As I began my research on the effects of nature on mental health, I found evidence that it takes at least 3 hours in nature to start to feel the positive impact it has on anxiety and depression. So I thought, “What better place is there than nature to practice mindfulness for a few hours!” And I was off to the races, building this hike retreat. I have hosted this event for two summers now and participants’ testimonials attest to the positive impact this retreat has on their anxiety and self-awareness.

Dr. A.: I’m really looking forward to Mindfulness Retreat. Tell me more.

Nicole: Taking a half day to put the phone down, stop pouring over to-do lists and getting back in touch with your mind, body and life is what it’s about. This retreat guides us through a series of exercises that will get us more aware of and focused on the present moment. This hike helps retrain our brain to pay attention to things that would otherwise go unnoticed, opening us up to deeper feelings of appreciation, joy and contentment.

Dr. A.: What can participants expect that morning?

Nicole: This is a small group event so you can expect no more than 8-10 people on the trail. You will engage in a variety of activities ranging from learning mindfulness concepts, testing out exercises to build your awareness, mindful eating, meditation, journaling and yoga. The foundations of all of these activities are covered so no experience is required!

Dr. A.: How is this different from other retreats?

Nicole: This retreat provides an extra opportunity to build self-awareness with the journaling activities and teaches you mindfulness basics in nature rather than a classroom. It includes not just meditation all day, it includes lots of other forms of mindfulness activities. The best part is, it’s local to Buffalo area residents! Most times you have to travel to a meditation or yoga retreat and this one is practically in your backyard.

Dr. A.: Who would benefit from attending this event?

Nicole: Everyone! Mindfulness is a way of living that everyone can take advantage of. Advantages like improved memory, reduction of work burnout, reduced stress, improves sleep, reduces chronic pain, lowers blood pressure, improves concentration and increases your energy, just to name a few.

This hike is great for anyone who wants to start a practice, learn about mindfulness, get to know themselves a bit better or just looking for a day to relax! The exercises not only help you while hiking but they translate over to everyday life. They help you to slow down, make more grounded decisions, include rest in your schedule and be more content with what you have on your plate at any given moment.

Dr. A.: How do people register?

Nicole: Visit our events page or contact me directly! I would love to talk to you about how you can get involved and answer any questions you may have.

REGISTER NOW!

Our Moms Before They Were Moms



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Magdalena Maldonado de Gómez

On the morning after the long night of my Mother’s death, my brother-in-law, who couldn’t be with us, sent us this photo. My siblings and I gathered around the computer and stared at my Mom’s youthful face in silence for a long time. Greg gave us a priceless gift we didn’t even know we needed. A visual reminder that my Mother was a whole human being. She lived an entire lifetime. Some of it was shared with us, but ultimately her life was her own.

It took months of grieving before memories of Mom were cancer-free. Slowly stories of her as an energetic, complex, irreverent woman began to overtake the more recent ones of chemo, hospice, saying goodbye.

Our Mothers As We Never Saw Them, brought all of this back to me. I searched my online albums for that photo of my Mom but couldn’t find it. Did my bother have it? He did. He sent it to me and once again I was staring at a computer screen, silently, in tears.

Survival Skills for Women Lawyers: Managing Everyday Stress & Anxiety to Stay Balanced



Presentation at Women's Bar Assoc

This morning at the Women’s Bar Association of  Erie County New York I had the real pleasure of presenting with my friend Dan Lukasik of Lawyers With Depression.

Click here and you will find links to some great resources, books, videos, articles and apps that accompany my talk.

Resources for Survival Skills For Women

5 Reasons *Not* To Go To Therapy



5 reasons not to go to therapy

Being a therapist for 25+ years I’ve heard all sorts of reasons why people don’t go to therapy. Here are the top 5 reasons I hear people say they don’t go to therapy.

    1. I’m not that depressed, stressed, anxious, fill in the blank.
    2.  I know what’s wrong with me. I should be able to deal with this myself.
    3.  It’s embarrassing.
    4.  It costs too much.
    5.  It’s too hard find a good therapist.

Do any of these sound familiar? I thought so. Continue reading to hear my gazillion years of experience refute these reasons!

5 Reasons *Not* To Go To Therapy

 I’m not that depressed, stressed, anxious

1. I’m not that depressed, stressed, anxious, fill in the blank. What drives me crazy is when I hear people say, “Wow, I should have come in months ago.” Yeah, I want to say, so why didn’t you? OK, well, that’s what this article is about. We feel stuck, like life is hard work, but that’s just life, right? This blah feeling is normal, isn’t it? Doesn’t everyone feel this way?

What is depressed enough? What is anxious enough? This is hard to say, in part because we’re the frogs in the pot so sometimes the worst judges. The first time I went to therapy it was at the suggestion of my dad. I was insulted! I was doing fine. To humor him I went and my therapist said, “You are depressed.” Still incredulous I heard him rattle off my symptoms, like, feeling lost, lack of motivation, listlessness, emotional flatness, no great sadness but no joy either. I did not like the image in the mirror he held up to me but he was right and something about how he talked to me, listened to me, sparked a long dormant hope.

I know what’s wrong with me

2. I know what’s wrong with me. I should be able to deal with this myself. All I need to do is work harder, write in my gratitude journal every day, stop eating too much, drinking too much, stop being lazy, get a new job, exercise more, be more positive… So yeah, this is all great and if we can do it we do feel better for a while. Then for some weird reason we go back to the old habits, not writing in our journal, eating and drinking too much, loosing motivation and the negative thoughts creep back louder than ever.

If we’re lucky, we know what we need. We may even know how to do it. So what stops me from doing what I know is good for me? A good therapist is like a good architect. You’ve got the tools, materials and desire to build a bridge. You can see the shore on the other side of the river where you want to go. The architect listens to you, gets behind your vision, sees the spot on the other shore where you want to go and gets to work with you to build the bridge to get there.

It’s embarrassing to go to therapy

3. It’s embarrassing. Stigma is alive and kicking. Except for some neighborhoods in New York City, announcing that you see a therapist may be greeted by the sound of chirping crickets. Or worse. The culture we live in may be accepting and encouraging which would be great, but too often it’s really not. Embarrassment is a close kin to shame which is toxic to growth.

Over the years I’ve seen a change. Thank God. Younger adults are more apt to see going to a therapist like going to any professional for specialized services, an attorney, accountant, medical doctor. Where is the embarrassment in getting your teeth cleaned every six months?

Therapy costs too much

4. Also, I don’t have time. Going to therapy is an investment there’s no way to get around that. You invest more than money. You invest your time and energy. This is all about priorities. If we know the value of something, whether it’s a pair of shoes or new car, we find a way to pay for it. If we really want to do something, like attend a rock concert in Cleveland, we find the time to make it happen. Why is it so much harder to prioritize our own well-being?

It’s too hard find a good therapist

5. Too hard find a good therapist. This one is the easiest because you’re here. At EWN we do our best to get you to the right therapist for you. If we don’t fit what you need, that’s OK, we have the experience and know-how to help you find the best therapist for you. Call us.

Welcome New EWN Therapists!



It makes me so happy to welcome Emily Becker, LMSW, and Christine Frank, LMSW, to EWN! ~Dr. Aletta

Christine 2Christine works with people who suffer from past trauma, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and low self-esteem.

Christine is easy-going, friendly, empathetic, non-judgmental. She’s funny and real in a wonderful down to earth way.

She can help pre-teens, teenagers, and young adults move through those difficult life transitions that can make a person feel lost. Most importantly she can hear your story. She’s a great listener.

716.430.4611     cfranklmsw@gmail.com

 

EmilyEmily’s experience and skills cover treating mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, as well as eating disorders, and the issues around relationships or life stress. In your work together, Emily will use a number of therapeutic models including cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy; however, she strongly believes that it’s the strength of the relationship you create together that generates meaningful change.

Emily will strive to greet each session with a curious mind and an open heart.

716-400-1605     ekbeckerlmsw@gmail.com

True Love Is All About How He Helps You Love Yourself



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  • It’s not just how you feel about him. It’s about how he makes you feel about yourself.

  • It’s not about losing yourself in him. It’s about becoming true to yourself with him.

  • It’s not about how great he is. It’s about how great you can become along side him.

  • It’s not about how much you love him. It’s about how much he helps you love yourself.

  • It’s not about his finding room in his heart for you. It’s about his finding room in his life for your energy, drive, ambition, passions and interests.

  • It’s not just about how good he is deep down. It’s about how you experience his goodness as you live your life together.

  • It’s not about how he makes you hungry to be with him. It’s about how much he makes you feel at home when you are with him.

  • It’s not about the love you share. It’s about your ability to fully, equally, deeply share your life together.

  • It’s about falling in like.

~Mira Kirschenbaum

Women & Love

Finding True Love While Being True To Yourself

Happy Holidays From All of Us at Explore What’s Next!



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Christmas 2016: A “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” Do-over



Yup, times have changed. What used to be considered a cute duet between a couple sharing a winter evening together has a wee bit of an uncomfortable feel these days. I heard about this new version on NPR and thought it was worth a share in case you haven’t heard it yet. Merry Christmas!

Choose Discomfort



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This quote (one of my favorites) is all about avoidance and procrastination. Avoidance and procrastination, the twin demons of my psyche, generate anxiety and guilt. Dr. Brown offers the antidote to anxiety driven by guilt in her concise, direct way. If I were a tattoo kind of girl I’d tattoo that quote into the palm of my hand so I could see it everyday.  Choose discomfort over resentment.

“But I don’t want to be uncomfortable!” I whine. Uncomfortable sucks. Is it really better than resentment?

Yeah. I’m afraid so. Discomfort is a moment to work through. Resentment is forever. Discomfort is like a sleepless night before confronting a task at work or presenting a report to the boss or picking up the phone to say “No” to the latest request from a friend, the kids’ school, a cause you really believe in. Oh my God, my heart is beating faster just imaging this! Does yours?

When we push through the guilt and nerves, we make the phone call and keep our promise to ourselves to say “No”, we feel relief, maybe even pride. No resentment; anxiety gone. What’s left is an eye blinking moment when we admit to ourselves that that wasn’t so bad. We sleep like babies.

What if the stakes are higher? Starting a new business, taking the first step in breaking up a relationship, facing those monstrous obstacles that get in the way of our happiness… The higher the stakes the greater the discomfort and the potential resentment.

We all know people who have “If only” syndrome. “If only I did this when I was younger,” or “if only I did that when I had the chance.” If we’re lucky we know a few people who did choose discomfort over resentment. They say, “Yup, I quit that soul sucking job, one of hardest things I ever did, and then I did something I’d been wanting to do all my life.” Or…”When I finally left him I was scared to death, but here I am free to make my own way and I’m so excited for the adventure of it all.” Often they are the same person, which can be very cool.

The Explore What’s Next logo represents a hill which itself represents a well-loved metaphor about confronting anxiety. The thing we avoid is at the top of the hill. The hardest part is putting one foot in front of the other, believing in your worthiness and strength  even when every cell in our body wants to turn around and run back down. Therapy is often about learning that you’ve got what it takes to lean into that discomfort, get to the top of the hill and enjoy the view.

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