How to Balance Achievement with Self-Compassion

Date: May 18th, 2017

Filed under: Tips

We all have things we want to accomplish, but sometimes our goals can seem overwhelming, and can even lead to self-destructive thoughts if we fail to achieve them. Follow these steps to help you progress toward your goals without being too hard on yourself.

Prioritize

Focus on the things that are most important to you. Trying to achieve too much is more likely to lead to exhaustion than improvement, so put your best efforts into whatever area of your life you really want to make a positive difference in.

Set Manageable Goals

Most major achievements take more than step to accomplish, so break your overall focus down into small steps that build on each other. Having a list of steps can help you focus on small successes, and see that even if you flub up at some point, you don’t have to give up or start all over again—just try that step again, or move on.

Practice Forgiveness

Even the most self-disciplined people experience failure sometimes. If this happens to you, try engaging in positive self-talk instead of beating yourself up. Look at the good things you’ve accomplished in life, and use those to prove to yourself that you can do this. Tell yourself you’re forgiven for this slip-up, and you get another chance to try again.

Celebrate Success

It’s important to forgive yourself for setbacks, but it’s just as important to celebrate your successes. Every time you move closer to achieving your goal, even if it seems minor, pause to congratulate yourself, or share your success with someone supportive. Celebrating success helps you to recognize it and motivates you to keep going.

Small Ways to Support Equality, Fight Discrimination, and Create Social Justice

Date: May 18th, 2017

Filed under: Tips

Social justice and equality for everyone are at the heart of the American belief system, but it doesn’t always look that way. Luckily, it doesn’t take an activist to fight discrimination. Here are five simple things you can do to make the world a better place.

Determine Your Beliefs

Take time to figure out where you stand, what you believe, and why. This puts you on solid ground and gives you a place to start, as well as motivation to support equality and social justice.

Listen to Others

Listen respectfully when others speak about social issues, and try to understand where they’re coming from. Keep an open mind and realize that your background gives you a certain viewpoint that may not be totally correct.

Speak Up

Speak up against discrimination when you see or hear it, but try to focus on voicing your beliefs, not attacking those of another person.

Practice Inclusion

Include people of many different ages, ethnicities, and walks of life in your relationships. Seek the advice of an older person, engage in conversation with someone of the opposite gender, ask a friend about their religion, or attend a community event.

Expand Your World

Our physical location in the world is often a result of more discrimination than we realize. Visit a restaurant in another part of town, take a walk in another neighborhood, or go to a library event designed for another demographic. By determining where you stand, listening to others and speaking up for equality, and expanding your world by making connections with others, you can fight discrimination and create social justice every day.

Five Surprising Ways to Manage Anxiety

Date: March 28th, 2017

Filed under: Anxiety

If you deal with an anxiety disorder, learning to manage your anxiety is one of the most important things you can do to improve your quality of life. Here are five ways to manage your anxiety that you may not have thought of before:

Use Your Hands

Many people find that keeping their hands busy has a soothing effect. Coloring is becoming a popular stress- and anxiety-reducing strategy, and other ideas include playing with playdough or silly putty, learning simple knit or crochet stitches to make a scarf or blanket, or using a Zen sand garden.

Make Connections

Talking and relaxing with good friends has a positive effect on our sense of well-being. Make and maintain connections with people, and, as much as possible, make sure that you are physically spending time with them. Studies have shown that too much time on social media can actually heighten anxiety, so try talking on the phone or writing notes to friends who don’t live nearby.

Eat Right and Exercise

We all know diet and exercise affect our physical health, but they have a huge influence on our mental and emotional health as well. Drink plenty of water, and eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid sugary or highly processed foods, alcohol and other stimulants, and too much caffeine. Anxiety is sometimes worsened by vitamin deficiencies, low energy, and dehydration, so taking care of yourself physically can make you feel better emotionally.

Exercise is known to release endorphins that make us happier and calmer. The repetitive movements of running, walking, and cycling can induce feelings of relaxation that fight anxiety both during and after exercise. Yoga is often beneficial for those with anxiety, stress, or depression, as it is a highly meditative form of exercise. It also teaches breathing techniques that can be used on their own to promote feelings of calm and control in difficult situations.

Pet Your Pets

Many people find that being around animals reduces their anxiety levels. Petting a dog or cat, holding a guinea pig, or even watching fish swim around a tank can be extraordinarily calming. If you have a pet, giving them attention can be beneficial for both of you. If you don’t have a pet, be sure to consider before you rush out and get one. Pets come with responsibilities that may be stressful if you’re not prepared for them. Chances are you know someone with pets who would be happy to have you come over and spend some time with them. Volunteering with your local humane society is another option that can give you many of the benefits of pets without the constant responsibility.

Do Hard Things

Perhaps the most surprising way to manage anxiety is to put yourself in anxiety-inducing situations. Take it slow, and realize that consistent baby steps are often more helpful than a single massive effort. At first, your efforts may increase anxiety, but as you continue you will find that your anxiety in these situations is reduced and your self-confidence increases. Whatever type or level of anxiety you are dealing with, know that you can learn to manage it. Be creative, find what works for you, and embrace the unique challenges and triumphs that life brings your way.

Parenting Tips for Parents with Tweens

Date: March 14th, 2017

Filed under: Kids

Parenting tweens can be challenging, and its normal for both parents and kids to feel confusion about their roles and relationships as children begin to assert their independence. But with the right tools, parenting tweens can also be vastly rewarding, and can help ensure strong relationships both now and in the future.

Stay Connected

It’s important to stay connected with your child during these critical years. Children between the ages of 10 and 12 may be more interested in spending time with their friends than with their parents, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need quality time with you. Set aside time to work and play together, and show an interest in your child’s interests. While we're not advocating that you launch your tween into social media just yet, if you're already there, you might try using the technology your child uses to stay connected through texting and social media when you can’t be together physically.

Be Open

Children are often introduced to big topics like drugs and sex during their tween years. Don’t be afraid to bring up these topics in daily conversation so your child can see you’re okay talking about them. Most kids are uncomfortable with “the big talk,” but discussing these issues in small doses can break down barriers and make children more likely to be open with you about their questions. Kids will shut down if they see you react with shock or harsh judgment, so always try to be calm and reasonable in your reactions.

Involve Your Child in Setting Boundaries

Children in the tween years feel a need for greater autonomy—and that need will increase as they get older. Fighting their desire for independence will only backfire, but it’s still important for children to have limits and learn self-discipline. It can be helpful to involve your child in setting boundaries. This can help them to feel respected, and gives them a feeling of investment in the rules you decide on together.

This doesn’t mean mistakes will never happen though, so decide together on clear consequences for keeping and breaking rules, and stick to them.

Choose Your Battles

Your child will not always make the same choices you would, and it’s important to respect that. When a child breaks the rules, always follow up with the promised consequences, but when their choices are not necessarily wrong, simply not what you would prefer, it can be beneficial to allow that freedom. You may not want your tween daughter to wear knee-high, neon-colored socks to school, but it’s not going to make or break anything if she does. Allowing small freedoms like this can help a child feel greater independence without venturing into dangerous territory, and can go a long way to promoting a peaceful relationship between you.

Expect the Best

Parents sometimes dread the tween and teen years, but don’t let negative expectations get the better of you, and certainly don’t pass them on to your child. Although they may not admit it, tweens still need your love and approval, and frequently respond to positive expectations and interactions in kind. Always expect the best of your child; express love, pride, and confidence in them on a regular basis. You may be surprised by how well they respond!

Making the Most of Therapy

Date: July 18th, 2016

Filed under: Tips

Be authentic.

Therapy is your opportunity to resist the demands of the formal world and share what you are thinking and feeling. Your therapist is NOT expecting you to ‘have it all together’. Therapy is an opportunity to learn how your thoughts and feelings, and your responses to both, impact your capacity for tolerating life’s ups and downs. Be open and honest in therapy. Authenticity leads to self-acceptance.

Say anything. Ask anything.

We encourage you to share your happiness AND your disappointments… about yourself, others, and even your therapy experience. At times we all struggle with sharing our disappointments and appreciations of people. Yet, learning to share our innermost experiences is critical to becoming whole. We encourage you to let your therapist know how you feel about your sessions -- if you’re content or disappointed or mixed. Learning how to confront these feelings and share them in a measured but meaningful way can help you learn about yourself and accelerate the growth process.

Consistent, on time attendance works wonders.  

The research is clear that therapy works best when attendance is regular and consistent. Inconsistent sessions or frequent late attendance is something to discuss with your therapist -- we want to support your personal growth -- it’s our top priority for you. We want to support you in honoring and believing in yourself by making therapy a valued, even sacred space for you. Consider discussing with your therapist practical and personal barriers that might keep you stuck in not putting yourself first.

Therapy begins the moment you walk through the door.

We train our administrative staff to treat you as though they are part of your treatment team. We encourage you to expect the best of our staff and yourself. Sharing office-related anxieties can be amazing opportunities for personal growth. It takes courage to enter into therapy and at times requires you to address intense emotions. Don’t deprive yourself of the opportunity to learn more about how disappointment sometimes takes hold of you and can actually be a guiding light towards change! If you have any concerns about your therapy or the office experience, we encourage you to discuss it with your therapist and to use the feedback kiosk located in the waiting room. 

Make progress your ultimate goal. Resist the urge to ‘find a cure’.

There is no magic therapist or magic pill to make all problems go away. Therapy is about growing by exploring and managing thoughts and emotions. Not ‘curing’ them. While signs of improvement may be confirmation that treatment is helping, it doesn’t necessarily mean that treatment is over. Much like physical exercise, therapy is about working with your own personal (mental-wellness) trainer aka your therapist, to get in shape and maintain your good (mental) health. If you are thinking of ending therapy, consider discussing and exploring this with your therapist.

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