Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, Mindfulness, CBIT, ERP, CBT-I, Behavior Consultation, and Treatment for Anxiety and Insomnia

Laura Van Schaick-Harman, Psy.D., BC-TMH


Dr. Laura's Meaningful Psychological Services

Online and Office Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

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Be Thankful

Posted on November 15, 2018 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Happy fall to all! I hope you have taken the time to notice the beautiful and varying colors around you during this harvest season. As we approach thanksgiving and the holiday season, let us take time to experience and show gratitude for aspects of our lives we are thankful for. Maybe it’s a friend we speak to every day, or a cousin we rarely see but often think about. Perhaps we are thankful for the ability to bring our children to school, purchase a cup of coffee, or stay home from work when we are ill.

I encourage you to look for the good in the bad, the happy in the sad, and the meaning in stress.

Have a happy, healthy, and meaningful holiday season.

What Would Someone You Admire Do?

Posted on October 15, 2018 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

This month, I am sharing a podcast with Dr. Samantha Boardman, a psychiatrist who specializes in the use of positive psychology and has an excellent-worth-following blog.



This episode talks about the powerful thought-feeling-behavior connection- how our doing, thinking, and feeling matters. Dr. Boardman also discusses coping strategies for anxiety and how to apply meditation strategies.



I challenge you to consider these ideas:


In this moment, what would someone you admire do?


Have you been handling this situation differently?


How are your behaviors related to your thoughts?



I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Lessons from Winnie the Pooh

Posted on August 19, 2018 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (5)

If you’re ever in need of a pick-me-up, you may find one in the stories of Christopher Robin and the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. We recently enjoyed a movie trip to see the new feature film (I will do my best to avoid spoilers) and loved it!

 

The movie depicts the busy, stressed out, anxious, and worried life many adults experience day to day. We easily get caught up in work responsibilities, financial worries, parenting tasks, and chores. We lose touch with our imagination, forget to rest, and overschedule our families.

 

In this movie, we learn a few valuable lessons. First, work is important, but how important is it? Pooh wonders if work is more important than a balloon (see the movie for context). Second, relaxation and self-care matters. As Pooh says, “Doing nothing often leads to the very best kind of something.” And third, spend time with your family and tell them you love them unconditionally.

 

Do something fun and meaningful today! Just a tip-that may include doing nothing at all.

The Days are Long

Posted on July 17, 2018 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (8)

Happy July! This post totally snuck up on me. I can’t believe how quickly time can pass, especially as a parent.

 

I remember reading “the days are long but the years are short” (Gretchen Rubin) a few years ago and feeling impacted by this message. The days can feel so long, especially when we have so many activities to do, tasks to accomplish, people to see, and places to go.

 

As parents, we may struggle with maintaining the master schedule. We try to make sure our kids take every opportunity that comes their way and feel bad if they miss something. We arrange minute-to-minute schedules to accomplish the daily tasks of food shopping, laundry, and cooking. We say yes to extra work responsibilities. We try to find time to have our own fun, shower, and, yes, even time to use the bathroom.

 

In all of the busyness, are we savoring the moments of traveling, shopping, cleaning dirty little hands, making lists, or going to birthday parties? Are we slowing down from all of the doing and focusing on just being? Are we able to exchange one extra-curricular activity for a family game night?

 

Spend time together.

 

Right now, I am savoring this moment when my 3-year-old (as he is watching me write this) said this post was a “nice list” and when I send it to somebody they will say “wow and put it on their refrigerator.” I don’t know if you will post this on your fridge, but hopefully you will go out and enjoy the day!

 

Pay attention to those little ones.

Our Struggles Can Be Beautiful

Posted on May 21, 2018 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (11)

On most of our walks as the season changed from winter to spring, my oldest son pointed out that the leaves are "trying to grow" in the sweetest most optimistic voice. At 3 years old, our perspective may not yet be influenced by negativity from the world around us. This observation has prompted me to watch how the leaves on one of my favorite trees along our route grow. For months, the tree was barren and devoid of liveliness , as were the neighboring trees. At first, we noticed tiny yellow buds on the edges of the branches. We were surprised by all of the details they displayed and how these buds did not seem to resemble the beginning of a leaf. As the weather grew warmer and the days longer, these buds grew more and finally peaked into a large green leaf. With this, the tree became alive again.


On some days, our life may feel barren and empty. These feelings may even last a whole season. With our weather adjusting between cold and warm days, the leaves were struggling to grow- or as my 3-year-old sees it, "trying" to grow. Our struggles teach us how to harness resilience, be patient, overcome obstacles, and transform something empty into joy.



Pay attention to the details and challenges in your life. With time, resilience, self-care, and hope, they may develop into something beautiful.

Everything is Fine

Posted on March 20, 2018 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (15)

"Everything is fine." How many of us hope for everything to be fine?


The TV series The Good Place invites us in with this phrase right away. We find ourselves yearning for things to be fine, to have everything going well, and to not deal with sickness, anxiety, depression, or anger.


If you haven't watched The Good Place yet, consider catching up before reading this post I am sharing below, as there are significant spoilers. I have really enjoyed this series- it will get you thinking, feeling, and laughing.


If you're like me and find yourself curious about the science behind "everything is fine" and the struggles of life, then read on. This link shares a very interesting peek at the world of goodness and evil.



Enjoy!


https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_the_good_place_says_about_good_evil?utm_source=Greater+Good+Science+Center&utm_campaign=b3401ffd33-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_GG_Newsletter_Jan+31+2018&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5ae73e326e-b3401ffd33-50850427" target="_blank">What "The Good Place" Says About Good and Evil

Healthy Nutrition: Focus on Eating Disorders

Posted on February 19, 2018 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (6)

Caring for ourselves is very important. When we struggle with self-care, it not only hurts ourselves, but the people we care for as well. Have you ever felt like you were trying to do so much that you were actually ineffective?


There are many different aspects of self-care. This month, I am focusing on one aspect-nutrition and healthy eating.

I am sharing this blog post, republished with permission from my sister who is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor specializing in the treatment of eating disorders. Please share this information with your loved ones and seek help if there is a concern. I hope for a healthy lifestyle for all.


https://www.stateofbalancementalhealthcounseling.com/blog/snapshot-of-the-different-eating-disorders" target="_blank">Snapshot of the Different Eating Disorders

Unfortunately, society and the school systems typically fail to properly educate on the topic of Eating Disorders. As a society, we are terribly misinformed and under-informed. Health classes typically breeze over the topic in a 40-minute period, if that, or in 5 textbook pages that are glanced over. Furthermore, most health classes explain different Eating Disorders in language that is very misleading. I hear so many of my clients complain about the frustrations they’ve felt when their health teacher teaches that people who have Anorexia simply starve themselves and don’t eat anything at all. This is, in fact, untrue. If a person doesn’t eat for any significant period of time, they will die. If people with Anorexia never eat, how is it possible that they may be struggling with this disorder for years, and still be alive? Now, why does this matter? It matters because our adolescents and young adults are so susceptible to eating and body issues, and if our teachers are explaining these disorders without giving due diligence to the topic, our young people then come to believe that they don’t have a problem, when they do. The consequences then become them continuing to struggle, not reaching out, and getting to a place much further along in their Eating Disorder, simply because they thought they didn’t have a problem, because they were educated in such a way to believe they did not. Now, I want to make it clear that I am not blaming the school systems or our teachers for the misinformation or not spending enough time on this. I simply would like to put this information out there in a simplified, yet straight-forward way. I’ll give a small snapshot of each disorder so that it can begin to correct the misconceptions we have been taught in our society:

-Anorexia Nervosa: This is marked by the intense fear of gaining weight. A person will severely restrict their food intake to a caloric intake that is below what really is necessary for the body to function optimally. Many times, this will lead to a significant drop in weight in a small window of time. However, it is important to note that you do not need to be underweight to have Anorexia. This is one of the biggest barriers to seeking treatment that many people have since they feel they are not classified as being underweight, therefore they must not have a problem.

-Bulimia Nervosa: In Bulimia, there may be periods of time where the person restricts their intake. The difference from Anorexia is that there will also be episodes of binging and purging. Purging may be done through various methods including inducing vomiting, using laxatives or over-exercising. The person with Bulimia also struggles with body image issues and fear gaining weight.

-Binge-Eating Disorder (BED): BED has 2 clear differences from the other disorders;

1: There are episodes of binge-eating, however the person does not purge and;

2: There is not a body image component. However, this does not mean that the person may not feel shame about their body, it means that they are not engaging in an act to ruthlessly avoid gaining weight such as restricting or purging.

Typically, Binge-Eaters will have episodes of binging that they will describe as mechanistic, numbing or out-of-control.

-Orthorexia: Although this one has yet to make its way into the DSM-5 as an official diagnosis, it is something that still is problematic that is hiding under the disguise of “healthy eating.” We are living in a society that is all about eating better, eating “cleaner,” and some people take this to an extreme. How does one know if it’s just a person trying to pursue a healthier lifestyle versus Orthorexia? The answer lies within their flexibility, or lack thereof. If they are never, or very rarely, willing to have a food item that may not be considered “healthy” or “clean,” they may have Orthorexia. When there is such a rigidity around healthy eating, it begins to become unhealthy. If you can never allow yourself to have regular ice cream or a meal at a normal restaurant, the quest for healthy eating may have gone too far. There’s nothing wrong with trying to pursue a healthier lifestyle, but healthy also requires flexibility. In this disorder, body image issues tend not to be the focus.

-Avoidant-Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): This feeding disorder looks a bit different than the rest. It is sort of the catch-all for Eating/Feeding issues that don’t have it’s own diagnoses. Some examples of how it may present itself in a person are as follows;

1: Someone can’t eat anything green because they have an aversion to the color. The aversion may have developed from a time they got sick from having a food that was green in the past. Or;

2: Someone undereats out of fear that if they eat too much, they will get sick.

While these examples are not all-inclusive, the important piece to take away is that there is some reason that the person is unable to eat all foods in a normal, healthy way, for a reason that is unrelated to body image.

-Body Dsymorphic Disorder: This one can be very tricky to understand, even for the person experiencing it. The textbook definition is a “preoccupation with a defect or a part of your body that is either slight or imagined.” For example, someone may be convinced that they have one eye that is smaller than the other, however, no one else is able to see this. The “defect” is either very slight or even imagined. As an outsider looking in, it can be difficult and frustrating to understand. What is important to remember is that that preoccupation is that person’s truth. In the example given, this person’s truth is that one eye is smaller than the other, and trying to convince them otherwise is going to be about as difficult a task as convincing me that the sky is green.

It is important to note that while these are listed as distinct disorders or issues, they typically do not look as clear cut in actuality. People may and typically will range in their problematic eating behaviors throughout their lives, if not dealt with. It is rare that you find someone who is so close to the textbook definition of solely one disorder.

One note I want to make perfectly clear is that not falling into one of these categories does NOT mean that you aren’t struggling enough to get help. You do not have to feel you have a diagnosis to need treatment. You do not have to be underweight to need treatment. You do not have to feel out-of-control to need treatment. You may feel that you struggle with eating or body image issues and find that it is interfering with your quality of life. If you feel you are struggling, treatment could be beneficial for you.

Thank you for reading, I hope this post offers some clarity and understanding! Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns or comments either by leaving a comment or messaging me privately!

I wish you wellness on your journey to finding your State of Balance!

Hate and Love

Posted on January 16, 2018 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (19)

Any Doctor Who fans out there? My husband is a huge fan, so I've been witness to a few episodes and lots of memorabilia. I watched part of the most recent episode, which included (spoiler alert) an amazing monologue/last speech by the Doctor as he was regenerating. One of the remarkable and most memorable statements during this speech included an important concept.

"Hate is always foolish- love is always kind." 

This statement is actually paraphrased from British philosopher, mathematician, and Nobel prize winner Bertrand Russell.

Hate and love are both strong words. Some may view them as opposing feelings on each extreme of the continuum of feelings about people or things.

This got me thinking. Always is also a strong word. As a psychologist trained in cognitive-behavior therapy, we are taught and teach to avoid using such definitive and absolute words such as "always" and "never" since they can be inaccurate, irrational, and unhelpful. Rarely is something always or never anything.

And yet, I find myself agreeing with the Doctor's speech.

Holding hatred is unhelpful and hurtful. Are there times when it is good to hate? We might think there are, but probably not. Forgiveness if a gift to ourselves just as much or even more-so than it is for the person we are forgiving. Sometimes, we can forgive someone without ever telling them that we have. Letting go of hate doesn't mean resuming a relationship again in the same way or continuing to get hurt. We can still change our behaviors. We just let go of the hatred. Why hold on to hate? Perhaps it really is "always foolish."

Now we get to love. Love is another powerful emotion that we experience towards our friends, family, pets, jobs, activities, and foods. We can show love to others in a variety of ways. Kindness is good. When we treat others with kindness and show them love, we usually feel good. Sometimes we feel yucky after showing love, especially when the love is not returned, but it is still kind. If we remember to keep ourselves safe and in healthy relationships, we will be able to enjoy showing love.

Let's be wise- show more love and let go of hatred...

Inner Peace

Posted on December 18, 2017 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (13)

Have you ever experienced some days where you couldn't access a moment of peace? Days of craziness, hustle and bustle, or stress?

This busy holiday season can really bring up the stress levels. While we can’t control the number of holiday event invitations we receive, the expectations of those around us, the traffic jams, the flight delays, getting sick, the change in schedules, or the weather, there is a lot that we can control.

This season (and maybe moving forward, always), we can find that inner peace during all of the phone calls, drop offs, doctor visits, gift wrapping, and traveling. The peace that hides inside while we endure stress. The peace that wants to spread outward to others.

I am going to challenge myself to experience peace throughout my day. Bringing it out, feeling it, enjoying it, and savoring it are all under my control. When we are able to feel peace, we can actually change the way we respond to situations. When we change the way we respond to situations, we influence the reactions of others and the outcome.

Looks like we have more control than we thought. I hope you find your inner peace today.

Can You See Things Differently?

Posted on June 12, 2017 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (4)

You think you have the right and best way of doing (insert activity). In fact, you insist that you know you're right and your (insert person-partner/friend/co-worker/boss/child/parent) is wrong. Where does this lead you? Usually to a disagreement, disappointment, or a feeling of being disgruntled. In reality, there is no right or wrong way. So, why do we get so hung up on seeing things from our own perspective?


The way we view the world matters. In fact, this interpretation has a direct impact on how we feel, which influences how we behave. It can feel very natural and easy to concentrate on our own perspective and not consider the perspectives of others.


In my practice, we often work on a mental stretching exercise in which we try to develop alternative explanations for the behavior of other people as well as understand a situation from another perspective. Trying to see the situation differently has a lot of benefits, including the development of cognitive restructuring skills.


Being able to see a situation from another perspective does not mean that you agree, disagree, accept or reject someone else's viewpoint. It just means that you value multiple perspectives on an issue and can expand your thinking. You may ultimately decide that your original opinion is still best for you, but you may be more compassionate towards the other person. Sometimes you will amend or change your viewpoint by incorporating other perspectives.


To illustrate this, consider the following situation. You are standing in line at the supermarket and perceive that the cashier is moving too slowly scanning your items for you. Your first thoughts attribute this slowness for lack of skill or caring for the job. This results in frustration, negative judgment, and a potentially not so nice interaction. When you consider alternatives from the cashier's perspective, you can develop the following options that the cashier 1- cares very much about their job that they don’t want to make a mistake; 2-love their work and enjoy going slowly; 3- just got yelled at by their supervisor for making a mistake; 4- dealt with an aggravated customer earlier who said the cashier bagged too quickly and broke their glass jar of sauce; 5- they don't feel well; 6- they do not in fact care about their job; 7- they have a physical disability. You may be able to come up with even more possibilities. In doing this, you are expanding your viewpoints and cognitive abilities and may even be kinder both to yourself as well as the other person.


Challenge yourself today. Try to see things differently. Try for even a moment to be in someone else's position. You may learn a lot about yourself and your world.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Posted on May 15, 2017 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (12)

May is Mental Health Awareness month. My goal for this month is to bring attention to the importance of our mental health.


Our well-being is important to monitor, develop, and take care of. Have you ever noticed when you feel irritable that you may be negatively impacting your friends, family, or co-workers around you? Our well-being affects the well-being of others.


Self-care is not selfish, but rather a necessary and important aspect of caring for and loving ourselves and others. We can only care for others when we have cared for ourselves. This may seem counterintuitive to many of you, but think about how much better you are able to help your children complete their morning routines, rock that work presentation, or spend meaningful time with your significant other when you are well-rested compared to when you are sleep deprived.


In my practice, I often reference the emergency instructions providedwhen flying. If the oxygen masks are released, parents should put the mask on themselves before their child. As a parent, this seems very counterintuitive and unnatural. Take care of myself before my child? The important point to remember is that by taking care of the grown-up first, we can better care for the child. If we pass out or get injured, how can we help our child then?


Practice some self-care this month. Read up on well-being and having a healthy mindset. Our mental health matters.

Permanent Decisions and Temporary Feelings

Posted on April 17, 2017 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (25)

Have you ever said something and then almost immediately regretted it? Most, if not all, of us have been there are at one point or another in our lives. When we get down to the basics of this experience, we learn that we let our feelings dictate our actions. In other words, we let a temporary state make a permanent decision for us.


Our emotions can be experienced so intensely at times. We feel so angry at our spouse for forgetting to take out the garbage again. We feel scared that the darkness while driving will be too much to handle. We feel sad that our friend cancelled plans on us. And so we yell at our spouse, or avoid driving at night, or mope around the house the entire weekend.


These actions are hard to undo or take back, and often leave a permanent mark on ourselves or someone else. Handled a different way, the feeling would have passed and our choices would have been much less detrimental to those around us.


We have more power than we think. Our feelings are temporary. They will go away. Why make a permanent decision based on a temporary feeling?


This month, I am challenging you to respond with grace, respect, love, hope, and self-care. Use your problem solving skills and think of an alternate solution. Remember, all feelings are ok. What you do with them is what matters.

This is Us

Posted on March 13, 2017 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (4)

*Spoiler alert* This month's post is about a TV show, This is Us, on NBC that premiered this fall. If you have not seen the show, consider watching the first episode and see if you connect. The remainder of this post may spoil some of the plot for you (I tried not to be very specific), so proceed at your own risk...


Ok, so I am hooked. This is Us has successfully tapped into multiple elements of the meaningful life. The real meaningful life, not a fairy tale. We explore interesting family dynamics, we dig deep into the backgrounds of secondary characters, we cry with grief, we suffer with anxiety, we are surprised practically every episode as the story unfolds, we laugh with appreciation, and we journey together in the complications that make us, well, us.


Some of the recent episodes have highlighted the role of anxiety and panic on both the individual and family. We learn about a drive for perfection, competition, pain with loss, and stress-induced panic. We learn that we may feel differently on the inside from what we portray on the outside. We see the impact of anxiety on family and the impact of family on anxiety.


This is Us shines a bright light on themes of adoption, of disease, of second chances, and of diving into life with a zest that is unshakable. We learn about anger, frustration, fear, and forgiveness.


We learn about loss. We really learn about loss. But we also learn about resilience. In one of my favorite lines so far, taken from the first episode, we learn how this family took "the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade." Excuse me while I retrieve my box of tissues...


This is Us explores so many psychological concepts. We dig into resilience, adoption, stress, illness, grief, pain, panic, anxiety, joy, relationships, divorce, re-connecting, and addiction. I am eagerly awaiting what other themes we will explore. After all, this is us too.

THINK Before You Speak

Posted on February 13, 2017 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (3)

We've all been there. Someone has said something without really thinking about what they said. The words used could have been hurtful, embarrassing, careless, lies, impulsive, or revealing. We likely have experience being the speaker as well as the receiver. We likely have witnessed an emotion such as anger or anxiety speaking through a person rather than the rational mind. We wish we could take back what we said. We wish we could have not heard what was shared. Yes, we have all been there.


How many times have we heard or told people to think before we/they speak? Probably many. This is easier said than done. While expanding on my learning recently, I came across a very helpful acronym that breaks down exactly what we can do to think before we speak. As soon as I learned of it, I immediately knew this was to be the topic this month. It is so important for us to know. I do not know of the original source, but whoever it is- thank you!


Here is how we can T.H.I.N.K. before we speak:

T - is it True?

H - is it Helpful?

I - is it Inspiring?

N - is it Necessary?

K - is it Kind?


Before we use our words, we can ask ourselves these 5 questions. My hope is for you to be an effective communicator, maintain and repair relationships, and use your words to build others up rather than tear them down. Try it and see how you feel.

Kindness

Posted on January 16, 2017 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (5)

The idea for this month's post was inspired by my toddler. Yes, my 2 year old told me what to write about. Over breakfast the other day, I asked my son what Mama should write about for her monthly newsletter. His response of "How 'bout Count and Big Bird?" inspired me.


My son is a big Sesame Street fan, which means I have read, watched, and listened to a lot of Sesame Street over the past few months. As a child, I loved the show. As an adult and psychologist, I have a renewed appreciation of the program and the lessons it teaches. The current season premiered recently and the theme is kindness, a simple fact that I was reminded of with my son's suggestion.

Kindness- what a wonderful concept to focus on this month. Kindness is often confused with being nice, but there are differences. Telling someone they look great before a job interview when they obviously have food stuck in their teeth may be nice but not very kind. The dictionary distinguishes between the helpful nature of being kind and the pleasant nature of being nice.


There are lots of ways to be kind. If you want to get some ideas, take a look at the first episode of Sesame Street this season. You will see people and monsters being considerate, helpful, and loving to one another. All ways of being kind.


Kindness is good for you, others, and the world. It can even boost happiness. If you are interested in learning more about the research on kindness, take a look at this Greater Good article: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/kindness_makes_you_happy_and_happiness_makes_you_kind


Here are some ideas to generate kindness:

Pay it forward- pay for the order of the car behind you in the drive-thru

Take a friend out for coffee

Help someone carry a bag at the grocery store

Offer to help a family member or friend with a household project

Give a loved one a hug

Provide free babysitting for a parent in need

Tell someone the truth in a gentle manner



How can you show kindness?


Kindly, 

Dr. Laura

Are You Growing?

Posted on December 13, 2016 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (10)

As 2016 comes to a close, I have been reflecting back on the year. What went well? What didn't go so well? What was my biggest challenge? What obstacle did I overcome? Which goals did I achieve? Which changes are a work in progress? When and how did I use mindfulness skills?

 

As 2017 approaches, I also reflect on the future. What would I like to do differently? Which habits would be healthy for me to change? Which habits would be best to maintain? How do I want to spend my day? How do I want to engage the people around me? What is the healthiest way to interact with my work? What do I want to accomplish this year?

 

I challenge you to ask yourself these or similar questions. You can use these as a guide. Pay attention and even write down your answers. You may be surprised by what you learn about yourself.

 

Now ask yourself this: how can I grow this year?

 

My hope for you is to develop a growth mindset. This means to approach challenges, embrace criticism, and continue growing through the lifespan. Interested? You can read more about growth mindset and Dr. Carol Dweck's work https://www.mindsetworks.com/Science/Impact" target="_blank">here.

 

One way that you can challenge yourself this year is to take the Behavior Change Ahead Course. On sale for $10 now, you will learn the ins and outs of changing our behavior. Choose a habit and make a change with this course.

 

I wish you health, change, growth, and love in 2017.

 

Warmly,

 

Dr. Laura

Showing Thankfulness

Posted on November 14, 2016 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (3)

It's November, which means families are starting to get ready for the holidays. With the fun, family, decorations, friends, parties, and food comes the busyness and stress of the season. Whether it is deciding plans for travel, meals, and gatherings, it can be helpful to share and show thankfulness.

When was the last time that you felt or expressed thankfulness for the opportunity to make these plans? For the amazing problem solving power of our brain to even make plans? For our planning ability to think of "first we can do this and then we can do that"? For the ability to drive and pick up a holiday decoration? Or the freedom to select some online?

All around us- even during the difficulty, the struggles, the hurts, and the fears- there is good. Some days it may be hard to find it, but it is there. We can look for the joy, the good, the humor, the "what's going well" experiences. When you find it, be thankful for it.

It is also healthy to show that you are thankful for the good. It feels so warm and cozy when people express gratitude to us or for something we did. It supports relationships, workplaces, self-care, and parenting.

There are many ways to show your thankfulness. You can keep write down the experiences, people, and things you are thankful for. You can write and send a gratitude letter to someone you are thankful for. You can find hope and express this feeling in your faith. You can tell your children, your spouse, your family, and your friends that you appreciate them and what they do. You can say thank you for taking out the garbage, moving the cars, going food shopping, following directions, or just being there.

While November can be a month to remind us of the importance of being thankful, you can feel, share, and show your appreciation, love, gratitude and hope all year long. I hope that you do.

Through A Toddler's Eyes

Posted on October 10, 2016 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (3)

For those of you following this blog for a while, you may remember a few years back when I wrote a piece about taking day-trips for families. While hopefully helpful and interesting, that post was written from a different perspective- the outside observer.

This month, I returned to these same two locations I initially visited, but this time as a mother. How wonderful it is to see the same exact thing from a different perspective. In my case, through the eyes of a toddler.

Being able to see the world around us in a new way is truly amazing. I never noticed how colorful certain fish were or how big a pig could be. My toddler was able to point out different details and offer amusement, saying "wow" at some cool things that we as adults may take for granted.

Of course, traveling with a toddler also presents a reminder about how important self-care is. As adults, we may be on the go all the time and constantly push ourselves to complete our tasks or make the next appointment on-time. With a toddler, however, we can slow down. We can linger here and stare there. We can and should take breaks for potty and food and shade.

We are also reminded that we can see different sides to things. There are many perspectives to each experience in our life. Going to the same place we have been to before but with different people can change the experience. Hearing someone else's viewpoint on their role in a scenario can help us understand the experience better.

We can see the whole world differently. We can care for ourselves, our families, and friends. We can see the moon, the clouds, the trees, the fish, the animals, the grass- everything- in a whole new way. Try seeing the world through a young child's eyes for a while. I bet it will be amazing!

Focus On College

Posted on August 15, 2016 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (3)

Returning to college or starting college can be both an exciting and anxiety provoking experience. For some, this may be the first time you will be on your own, away from your parents and in a new area. For others, you may be returning to school for another semester of classes, friends, clubs, fun, and exams. For those of you commuting, you may be preparing for the best route to take to get to class, and balancing home life with work life with school life, etc. For parents of college students, you may also be experiencing this nervous excitement. It is a big step for both of you.

 

Being a college student can be an amazing experience. Yes, there will be the stressors of meeting new people, learning new and challenging information, exams, and independence. But, did you know that stressors aren’t necessarily negative. Interesting in learning more? See this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=154-mh8JbNg&index=3&list=PLbiVpU59JkVZeQPQ1u5mS8U1c0V7J5OJU" target="_blank">video that explains how to make stress your friend. The same stressors listed above can actually be fantastic opportunities. That is, if you view them that way.

 

Meeting new people- some of you may be saying "eekk" in your mind and experiencing a rise in anxiety. Meeting and getting to know people can be challenging, but can also lead to great friendships, healthy relationships, and professional connections.

 

Learning new and challenging information- again, some of you may be worried about the difficulty level of the material or whether or not it will be interesting or relative to your major, or about how much work there will be in each course. Learning is a tool for success, growth, and change in your life.

 

Exams- I don't need to elaborate on the level of nervousness you may be experiencing on this one. Exams can be tough, no doubt about that. Success requires effective preparation, study skills, knowledge of the new material you learned, and time management. Exams allow you to show off your skills, test your limits, and communicate your knowledge to others.

 

Independence- what a fun yet scary concept. From doing laundry and making dinner to paying rent or buying books, independence in college can be helpful or detrimental to college success. For a healthy experience, remember that these activities, when balanced appropriately with school responsibilities, are good for self-care.

 

If you want to learn how to meet new people and form healthy connections, embrace new course material and integrate it into prior knowledge, rock your exams, and build an independence that will serve and protect you, check out my series of brief workshops for an awesome college experience. You can listen anytime and on any device. You will learn how to master these skills and more. And best of all, you will learn how to have a meaningful, successful, and fun college experience.

 

As you return to school, consider if there is an unhealthy habit that negatively impacts your success or experience during the semester. If you want to change this, my habit change course will be helpful to you. You may want to develop better study or time management skills, participate more in class, stop using your cell phone in class, or reduce nail biting. In the course, you will learn how to change your habit safely and effectively using science and research based strategies that are manageable to do. You can try out the first class for free to see if it is a god fit for you.

 

https://www.freeconferencecall.com/wall/recorded_audio?audioRecordingUrl=https%3A%2F%2Frs0000.freeconferencecall.com%2Fstorage%2FsgetFCC2%2FOrFzI%2Falw7&subscriptionId=5504662" target="_blank">Click here to access the free class

 

If you would like to access the complete course, which includes an additional three hours of content about the functions of behavior, collecting data, reinforcement, and interventions, as well as a workbook to support your learning, click here or here to purchase.


Mindfulness Resources

Posted on July 11, 2016 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (9)

Here. Now.

 

Pay attention to the way these words appear on your screen. What emotions do they trigger? Are you experiencing any external or internal awareness of sensations? As you read this, our brain can practice mindfulness. That is, being fully aware of our current moment, the "now" without judgement. As leading mindfulness expert and founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn describes, there is always another now to be in. There are endless opportunities to be mindful. When was the last time you were living in the moment?

 

Mindfulness can be an amazing tool in our life. There are lots of mental and physical health benefits when we cultivate being in the present moment, even if it is uncomfortable. In my practice, my clients work on getting comfortable with being uncomfortable and eliminating the struggle with negative emotions. This is an excellenthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI&utm_source=Synced%20from%20ACT%20Mindfully%202&utm_campaign=a242dac18d-The%20Struggle%20Switch%20%E2%80%93%20A%20New%20Animation&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b4d93a96fc-a242dac18d-243568409" target="_blank"> video that illustrates this concept if you are interested in learning more. Practicing mindfulness can actually change your brain in very healthy ways and enhance well-being. You can watch Dr. Kabat-Zinn describe this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGtJQNqMXBY&list=PLbiVpU59JkVbFtkacXoByNjHJgGc4AryM&index=2" target="_blank">here.

 

There are a variety of resources, tools, and interventions available to practice mindfulness. Dr. Kabat-Zinn has authored many resources, including meditation cds, books, workbooks, and videos. 

 

Another excellent resource is the Greater Good In Action Center mindfulness page. Here, you will find an informative video and bullet points describing what mindfulness is. You can also review the many benefits of practicing mindfulness, which include improved physical and emotional well-being.

 

If you want to dig deeper and access additional resources, my colleague Dr. Anthony Pantaleno provides additional information about the components of mindfulness as well as helpful web links and a recommended reading list on his website. Dr. Pantaleno also offers resources for educators as well as tips for starting a mindfulness practice.

 

 

Applying these techniques can lead to many positive benefits, including reduced stress. I hope you find these resources helpful and useful.