3 Steps To Self-Care



IMG_1977Self-care is essential for any care-giver. Vacation is wonderful but it’s usually only a once in a while thing. We all need time to float, by ourselves, on a daily basis. Whether it’s simply time to take a nice long, hot shower, which for the new mother is nothing short of heaven, take a walk or finding respite care for aging parents so that you can take a day to go to a spa or just sleep-in. These are not selfish indulgences. Self-care is essential like food or oxygen.

What it boils down to is giving ourselves permission to be alone to do what is meaningful for us alone, permission to drink from the well by ourselves. Permission to take care of ourselves because no one else is going to do it for us.

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Hey, Mom! Can You Handle The Truth?



IMG_1937A vacation, when we’re really lucky, gives a family the opportunity to bond, share old memories and make new ones. That was my hope for our recent family trip to the mountains.

Now that my kids are young adults, my son is twenty-one and my daughter 19, (Yikes!) I felt it was safe to ask them if my way of parenting worked for them when they were growing up. Of course I wouldn’t ask this question if I wasn’t fairly confident they would say, “You were a great mother! I wouldn’t change anything! When I have kids I’m going to rear them in exactly the same way!”

Ha! Woman plans and God laughs.

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Four Elements of a Good Marriage



When it comes to marriage, a mentor of mine said, there are no rules. As long as there are Two Consenting Adults, the possible types of marriage are infinite. You can have bi-cultural marriages, bi-racial, bi-coastal, marriages blending different religions, arranged marriages, open marriages, May-December couples, straight, gay and transgender. Traditional or not, all that matters is that the two adults involved agree on what defines their particular coupling.

Two. Consenting. Adults.

After that what are the elements of a good marriage? Everyone wants to know that, right? What my mentor said was a bit surprising. He said that after doing a meta-analysis of studies on happily married couples, researchers boiled down the corner stones of a good marriage to four:

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5 Ways To Deal With Anxiety Over The Heartbleed Bug



3bO_Hxp4_400x400By now you have probably heard about the Heartbleed Bug that has the Internet community shorting out its circuits. With headlines, tweets and posts with titles like “Why Heartbleed Is the Ultimate Web Nightmare” its a wonder any of us got any sleep last night. That Heartbleed logo alone is enough to kick up my flight/fight response!

So what can we do to get a grip, calm our bodies down and take action to do what we can to address the problem?

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The Shooting at Fort Hood & Mental Illness: “Please God, Not Again!”



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Photo courtesy of Steven V

As soon as I saw the “Breaking News” my heart sank. Another shooting. Another gunman. More dead, injured, traumatized.

Then I brace myself for those two little words that always accompany these disastrous gun-related events: “mental illness.”

In a story on NPR, reporter Melissa Block spoke with Counselor Annie Powers, a military veteran herself,  who specializes in treating PTSD. Ms. Powers sees military patients at the Adult, Child and Family Counseling Center in Killeen, Texas, the town where Fort Hood is located.

Ms. Block reports, “All the patients [Annie Powers] talked to since the shooting have been talking about it.”

Ms. Powers states, “I can see where they might be concerned about, oh great, everybody thinks that if you have PTSD, anger, anxiety and depression issues that you’re crazy! There’s a lot of people who are afraid to come get the help. They don’t want it on their military record. They don’t want to go on medication because somebody might know, ‘I couldn’t handle it. I wasn’t strong enough.’ I have to explain to them that PTSD is not about strength.”

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5 Ways to Make a Decision Despite Anxiety



?There are so many reasons why we get anxious that sometimes I get anxious trying to decide what part of being anxious I should write about. How nuts is that?!

Doing the very thing you are afraid of is what reduces anxiety. Somebody said that. Probably Eleanor Roosevelt because she said everything cool, but I digress…

Everyday we are faced with decisions from the seemingly mundane, “Do I get out of bed today?,” (seemingly, because for some that is a major decision, no joke) to the life changers, “Do I take that job? Start a company? Have a baby? Move to a new city?”

Those of us who tend toward anxiety too often find ourselves going around in circles, towards a decision then backing off, only to go towards it again and backing off once more, like a toddler who can’t decide if it wants independence more than it wants to be with mommy.

Why do we get anxious about making decisions and what can we do about it?

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5 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Couples Therapy



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This is a True Story.

A couple walked into a therapist’s office. (OK. It was my office…)

“If you would only stop doing what you’re doing we’d be fine!” yelled one.

“If you would only stop telling me what to do we’d be fine!” growled the other.

“Time out!” said the therapist (me), using the universal ‘T’ hand gesture.

The couple, united in intent at last, stared at me, shocked, as if a monkey had suddenly jumped on my head.

I gently continue, “Couples Therapy is not about having the same fight you have at home here in this office. Just because there’s a third party witnessing it, that won’t make the fight, or your relationship, any better. Let me explain what it takes to be in couples therapy. Then you can decide if you want to continue.”

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The Buzz on ‘Bossy’ and that other ‘B’ Word!



When was that Moment of Truth for you? When you realized there are certain words in our culture used almost exclusively to keep us down. Words like ‘Bossy!’

For me it was when someone I love and trust called me that other word that starts with a ‘B.’

Many, many years ago when I was in graduate school, I took a road trip with my brother. We were driving from Kansas where my parents lived, back to the East Coast. We are only a year apart in age, pretty opinionated and, shall we say, vocal. Being cooped up in a car for over 12 hours can be a dangerous environment for siblings who don’t always see eye to eye no matter how much you love them.

I have no idea what the topic was we were talking so heatedly about. All I remember is we were arguing about something passionately when he said, “Why are you always such a b*#ch!”

Whoa! Talk about conversation stopper!

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Stand Like Wonder Woman! Body Language & the Power of Faking It ‘Til You Make It



“Sit up straight!” “Do not hunch over!” “Shoulders back!”

No, this wasn’t bootcamp. It was my childhood.

My father was a posture Nazi. His constant vigilance at the dinner table was a literal pain in the neck. People would compliment my parents on my posture and inwardly I’d roll my eyes, “You have no idea.”

Now I’m grateful. My spine is grateful, My internal organs are grateful. And today I learned that my self-esteem can be grateful, too!

While I was walking on the treadmill doing my morning mile, I watched the first episode of Life Hacks, a collection of TED talks, on Netflix. A client, who knows my love for Netflix, suggested this series as an alternative to Sherlock episodes.

Social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, shares how her research supports the idea that our body language can make a difference in whether we feel powerful or the opposite, small and unworthy. Stand up tall with your hands on your hips for two full minutes and, even though you may not be feeling it totally, it will be easier to act as if you own the room.

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Sleep sweeps away the garbage in the brain



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Eiko Ojala

Owning your own business can mean working 24/7. I really felt it last week. Even though I thought I was doing a good job with self-care, last night was the first time I was really able to sleep deeply, well and for as long as I wanted. This morning I woke up so happy, loose and serene I almost talked myself out of it! Almost!

It started with, “Remember the back up of emails you need to get to, that conversation you have to have you’re not looking forward to, that report you have to write…” I could feel the good mood start to dissolve like sugar dropped in boiling water. Thank God I stopped myself.

Instead I stretched and told myself, “Today I am happy. I can get to that stuff and still be happy right now!” And I smiled.

As I sipped my morning coffee, basking in my sleep fulfilled afterglow, I read the front page article in the New York Times Sunday Review section: Goodnight, Sleep Clean and it sighted studies that explained exactly what I had just experienced. That’s pretty cool.

We’ve had a lot of articles here on the EWN blog about the importance of sleep such as “7 Tips to Improve Your Sleep!” and without a doubt we’ll probably have more in the future. Sleep is that important to our mental, emotional and physical health!

So go to bed, relax and remember that sleeping is not a waste of time. It is actually allowing a second shift of biochemical workers to get busy taking out the trash! Wishing you all a refreshing good night’s sleep!

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