Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people throughout the country and around the world are finding themselves rather suddenly working from the confines of their own home. If you are someone who has grown accustomed to commuting to and from your office each day, working alongside others, and being away from home for 9+ hours each day, these changes are big.
Gone are your long, social, chatty daily rides on the train to and from work where you often get to sit with that nice lady from that big finance firm and that kind gentleman from that non-profit education program.
Gone is the hustle and bustle of the subway station after work as you dart quickly through the crowd to catch your standing room only train ride home.
Gone are the opportunities to stand at your coworker’s desk and catch them up on the latest drama with the other soccer moms or the newest item on your cousin’s baby shower registry.
Gone are the lunches in the break room where you belly laugh with your coworkers for 20 minutes each day and commiserate about the latest work directives.
Gone are your hour long car rides alone where you can listen to whatever you want on the radio, whether you are blasting 80’s rock tunes or singling along to 90’s ballads.
Things are going to look very different for a while now. Your work week filled with other people, lots of noise, and hustle and bustle is now a long 5 days filled with very little physical contact with other humans, a lot of silence, and a whole lot of stillness.
At first, these changes might be a nice break from your busy work life but, after a little bit of time, you may find that you are getting antsy and would give almost anything to go back to the way it used to be pre-COVID-19. Despite the challenges of these times, though, if you follow these 10 strategies for transitioning to working from home, you just may find some joy in this new temporary normal.
1. Establish Working Hours
One of the biggest challenges when working from home is that there are suddenly no clear boundaries between work hours and non-work hours. Decide what time your work day will start and what time your work day will end. If you were a commuter, you’ve now gained some extra non-work time at home at both the beginning and end of the day. What can you fill it with that will be fun, relaxing or restorative instead of just filling it with more work? Resist the pressure to start work early or “stay” late.
2. Keep Your Morning Routine
It’s tempting to plan to stay in your pajamas all day (or at least your pajama bottoms if you have some video conference calls). But, resist the urge and instead continue to spend time getting yourself ready for work each morning. Take your shower, make your bed, do your hair, put on your makeup, and wear something that you wouldn’t wear at home on a Saturday morning. Doing so will help your brain to understand that there is a difference between work hours and non-work hours.
3. Set Up Your Work Space
Select an area of your home where you will be comfortable setting up your work space. You may even choose to select multiple areas and move your “office” throughout the day. Be creative. Feel free to order a few things online or re-purpose some wall hangings, art, or pictures from other areas of your home. As the weather gets nicer is there an area outside where you can do some work? Make your work space inviting and personalized.
4. Take Breaks Alone
When you “arrive” to work each day, take a look at your schedule and decide when you will take some breaks and then use those breaks to do something for yourself. Take a quick walk outside. Have a cup of tea in another room. Download a meditation app and do a 5 minute meditation. Read a few pages of a book. It doesn’t really matter what you do as long as it isn’t work or household chores and is something that allows you to relax for just a few minutes.
5. Spend Time With Your Children
If you are one of the vast number of parents who now have children home for weeks and months at a time, you are probably feeling the pull between attending to your work tasks and attending to your children’s needs. Plot out time each day to be with your children where you are not focusing on their at-home learning. Plan to eat lunch with them or take “coffee” breaks with them. Take the dog on a walk with them. Throw the baseball around with them. Be with them and enjoy this once in a lifetime chance to be at home together.
6. Check In With Your Partner
These times are going to put a strain on many relationships. Couples who are used to not seeing each other all day everyday may be in for a bit of a shock with just how much they will be seeing of each other’s faces soon. Or, maybe one member of the couple is an essential employee and can’t be working from home, leaving the other member of the partnership to be feeling a bit more of the responsibility of having to work from home while caring for kids. Maybe this new set up will leave you feeling a financial strain. Chances are, no matter what the circumstances, this is going to be stressful for many couples. Talk with each other about it and find out what you each will need in order to feel supported during this time. Have a little “staff meeting” with each other at the start of each work week and at the end of each work week where you check in about what worked and what could have gone better. Communication is key!
7. Feel Your Feelings
We are living through a time quite unlike anything many of us have ever experienced. No matter how stressful your job, your commute, or your relationships with coworkers may be, having it all change so suddenly can feel traumatic at times. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself feeling anxious, angry, sad, and/or numb. Allow yourself to cry, shout into the shower water, punch a pillow, or just sit and feel nothing. There is a lot of grief in what we are currently experiencing and the only way to deal with grief is to feel it.
8. Reach Out
With limited social gatherings, it is going to be very easy to find yourself feeling isolated and lonely very quickly. Make it a point to reach out to friends via text, Facetime, social apps, and even the good old telephone. Schedule group chats with your friends where you can check in together a little bit without being physically near each other. Maintaining friendships and connections may take a little more effort these days. It’s worth it!
9. Focus On Your Health
It is really tempting with gyms closing and our lives turning inward for a while to open up that bag of chips and throw our diets and exercise plans out the window. The reality is that we need to do the opposite right now. Make a plan for your meals and for at home workouts. Commit to your plan with a friend or your partner and check in regularly. After all, what boosts our immune system more than taking care of our bodies with good nutrition and healthy fitness habits?
10. Change Your Social Media
Many people’s inclination right now might be to limit your use of social media but I think we NEED social media right now. We need to feel connected to each other, part of something bigger. Lean into social media but do it in a completely different way. Hide, snooze, and ignore a whole lot of people for the next 30 days. If you are feeling deeply triggered, irritated, hurt, or angered by someone’s posts, get them off your feed for the time being. There’s no space for that right now. Fill your feed with lightness. Hide the news — you can find it when you need it. Post fun photos. Ask engaging questions. Talk about books, movies, and television. Share helpful tips. Post recipe reviews. Share at home workouts. Social media can be an important lifeline to each other right now if we use it in the right way.
These days ahead of us are going to feel strange, challenging, and sometimes even painful. But, if we are mindful and deliberate in how we approach this time in our life, we just might find that these days could be ones filled with memories, laughter, and a renewed connection to ourselves and the people we love.
Many of my blog posts center around topics like grief, parenting, and relationships but three years ago I took a risk and shared that I had made the decision to pursue Isagenix as a weight-loss plan. (Click here to read the original review). Some people scoffed and rolled their eyes but many people secretly messaged me to ask for some insight around the Isagenix program.
My initial detailed Isagenix review outlined the Isagenix weight loss program, the Isaganix company itself, and detailed my first week on the plan. Then, life happened and I never circled back around to close the loop on my experience with Isaganix.
Three years later, while I am not where I want to be with regards to my weight or my physical health, I must admit that Isagenix has provided me with a much needed consistency. Despite a bunch of curve balls thrown my way (launching my own business and relying solely on myself for employment, 2 cancer scares, 2 surgeries, and an intense life changing diagnosis, to name just a few), the Isagenix program and products have continued to provide me with an easy way to center my life around healthy nutrition.
As I sit here enjoying my Isagenix chocolate shake for lunch, it seems like it is time to give an Isagenix update!
What I LOVE about Isagenix
Isagenix protein shakes are the ONLY shakes I use. They are filling. They taste great - I do NOT like super sweet drinks so these shakes appeal to me because they are not sweet at all. They are easy to mix either in a shaker with water or with some milk product (I use almond milk) or blended with ice in my NutriBullet. The shakes work with whatever diet plan I am currently following. Due to a recent diagnosis, I have been attempting to follow a Whole Food Plant Based Diet and the Isagenix Plant-based shakes fit so nicely in with this plan. Additionally, at just 7 points per shake, they fit perfectly with the green Weight Watchers plan that I am trying to follow along with WFPB diet.
Over the past 3 years, all I have seen from the Isagenix back office is improvement. Their website and message have become more streamlined and clear. They have continued to expand upon and refine their products, adding product lines such as essential oils, skincare products, and a whole line of products specifically geared towards children. Their reimbursement and compensation for their consultants has not wavered and they continue to be one of the best MLM marketing companies out there with regards to how they treat and reward their consultants and associates.
One of the tenants of the Isagenix Diet is that you have two of their shakes each day, one healthy meal, and two healthy snacks. Following this plan is so convenient for me as a mother and therapist as my meals are often taken while driving from school to work to sporting events or in my 10 minutes between sessions with my patients. I don't have to think or do a lot of prep work. I just toss a prepackaged shake envelope into my work bag along with a shaker of water and my lunch is set. As for my "fork and knife meal" of the day (i.e. not a shake), it is really easy to toss together some protein source with some veggies and some healthy carbs for a meal around 350-500 calories. Each of the two snacks per day should be around 100-150 calories and the options are completely limitless.
By far one of the hardest aspects of the Isagenix program is getting accustomed to Cleanse Days. These are days where you give your body a break from heavy digestion and instead enjoy some of the specially formulated Cleanse for Life drink and carefully selected Isagenix supplements and snacks for 1 or 2 days. I cannot begin to explain how AMAZING I feel on a cleanse day. My brain fog is lifted, I've got tons of energy, and I feel healthy. Surprisingly, I never feel hungry! The new Peach Mango Cleanse for Life is one of the best drinks I have ever had! Getting through your first few cleanse days is a mental exercise. If you are thinking about trying it or struggling with that idea, feel free to reach out to me here as I'm happy to offer some support!
No matter how hard I try to plan ahead, I always seem to find myself peering into my pantry and realizing I only have just a handful of shakes left. Ordering from the Isagenix website is so easy and within just a couple days, my shakes are at my doorstep. Truly only Amazon Prime ships things faster for me!
What I Would Change About Isagenix
Making that initial Isagenix purchase felt like a huge financial risk for me. But, when I actually compare the price of the program to the price of what I would spend on food at the grocery store or on take out, Isagenix really does save me money. Plus, when you choose to sign up as a consultant, you can quite easily earn enough commission each month to pay for your own Isagenix purchases.
After that large initial purchase, however, I really just need to replenish items on a rolling basis each month. It's sort of like when you move to a new place and restock your essential pantry items: it's a big purchase at first but you don't actually need to buy a big container of dried basil every month or a large bottle of EVOO every week. So, big cost up front but then minimal cost moving forward!
Thinking of Trying Isagenix?
If you are thinking about tryng the Isagenix system, I suggest you take the leap, invest in yourself, and give it a chance. You'll never know if you'll love it like I do until you try it.
Read my complete review and overview of my first week on Isagenix here.
To check out some of the Isagenix products or to place your first order, click here.
To chat directly with me about the program, don't hesitate to reach out to me by sending me an email or by visiting me on Instagram.
Click here to read more articles about Isagenix, Weight Loss, and Health and Wellness.
Everywhere we look right now we hear and see the same few words over and over again.
For many of us, this constant news cycle can be overwhelming, tapping into our already somewhat heightened levels of anxiety. For those of us that are parents, we have an added layer of concern: how do we explain the current state of affairs to our children and provide them some sense of reassurance?
While there is no magic elixir, magic wand, or secret rule book, there are a few key strategies that just might help us to decrease our children’s current worries and restore a sense of hope.
1. Be Honest
As with most things, children know more than we think they do and they crave honest information. As much as I want to shelter my children from hearing about the potential bad things that could happen, now that they are in school and in sports, this is simply not a reliable option. They can potentially overhear information from an adult or directly from another child in a number of locations. When parents make the decision to provide their children with honest information, there is better control over what and how specific information is shared with their children.
2. Watch What You Say
On the flip side, be mindful about what you say around children, not just around your own children, but when you are out in public. You don’t want to be that person who exposes another child to information their parents had not yet shared.
3. Consider Development
Children’s emotional and cognitive capacities develop significantly throughout their childhood. Before sharing details with them, take their developmental stage into consideration. A 12 year old will want and need more specific and detailed information than a 7 year old may need. Avoid going into too much detail or overwhelming them with details. Let them guide you on how much information they need.
4. Be a Role Model
Let’s face it, children learn a lot from watching their parents: the good, the bad and the ugly. Show your children that feelings like anger and frustration are normal. If you are angry, name it. Be sure to not only show your child that it is normal to feel emotions but also demonstrate acceptable ways for them to express those emotions. Avoid holding it all in and expressing it only when the children are not around. Let them in on the realness of feelings. You will be providing them a solid model for how to handle and manage life’s biggest challenges to come.
5. Reassure. Reassure. Reassure.
Children need to feel safe and the adults in their lives are the ones who are tasked with that monumental responsibility. I am not advocating for you to tell your children that nothing bad will happen to them or near them ever as that would be a lie. You cannot predict the future. You can, however, point out that good stuff happens far more often than the bad stuff. Remind children of all the people and systems in place to keep them safe and all the healthy people around them. Reassure them that you would never knowingly put them in a dangerous situations. Highlight safety measures that are in place in they express fear over attending a certain event. Repeat as many times as necessary. When you think you’ve said it all enough, say it one more time.
6. Limit Media
Television news, social media accounts and newspapers now provide non-stop, around the clock coverage of the virus outbreak. Pictures, video, audio clips; it’s all out there and it can quickly become too much for children. Be mindful of what children may be exposed to and consider whether it is necessary. I recall hearing accounts from 9/11 that many children interpreted the frequent replay of the plane hitting the tower as multiple planes hitting multiple buildings day after day. Even if you think your children aren’t watching the news with you or don’t see the headlines on the newspaper, think about what they may overhear from the next room or what they may see when the newspaper is left casually on a kitchen table.
7. Create an Open Dialogue
Children need time to process things. It is not unusual for children to need days or even weeks to develop questions or be able to express their thoughts on difficult topics. Send your child the message that you can always find time to talk with them. Many parents have success by carving out time each night around bedtime for an opportunity for children to share their experiences, thoughts, feelings and ask questions. Some parents schedule weekly one-on-one parent/child dates at a coffee shop or fast food restaurant to connect. These conversations tend to be better received when they focus on one child at a time, rather than as a family dialogue with multiple children of various developmental stages.
8. Point Out the Positive
Despite what we see on a daily basis, there are lots and lots of great things that happen locally, nationally and internationally. Seek out the good stuff and share it often with your children. Local newspapers can often be a more positive source of news, particularly for children. Highlighting the positives can also go a long way to helping children feel safe. No amount of the good stuff is too much!
9. Monitor Behavioral Changes
Keep a watchful eye on your child’s behavior. Changes in sleeping and eating patterns may indicate that your child is having a hard time processing some events and information. Changes such as suddenly wetting the bed again or asking to sleep in your bed could be a normal response to stressful information. Be careful not to shame your child about changes like these. Rather, give them some time, continue to provide reassurance and keep a watchful eye. If you are concerned, reach out for support. Your child’s school, their pediatrician and local child therapists are all great resources.
Article by Mark Tyrrell of Hypnosis Downloads.com
7 Ways to Soothe your Shyness
Shy people instinctively know that they are missing out. Shyness equals lost opportunities, less pleasure and fewer social connections. Shyness can be crippling but there are tried and tested ways to make it a thing of the past.
When I was fifteen I was shy. I recall an attractive girl attempting to engage me in conversation. My shyness made me focus on me instead of her. I heard my own voice but not hers and I thought about what I was trying to say instead of what she was trying to say.
The formula for shyness is "too much focus on the self" plus anxiety. To make it even more unpleasant, sometimes when you are feeling shy you experience physical sensations which 'hijack' your calm logical self.
My pulse raced, my mouth dried up and I felt like the village idiot! I couldn't think what to say so I said nothing apart from making barely audible grunting noises! Cary Grant eat your heart out! When I detected pity in her eyes (or was it contempt, or boredom) I mumbled my excuse and got out of there. I hated being shy and was determined to change it.
How shyness is developed and maintained
Shyness really is a combination of social anxiety and social conditioning. To overcome shyness you need to learn to relax socially. This enables you to direct your attention away from yourself and gives you the space to practice certain conversational skills. In most cases, the heightened emotions of socializing when young simply condition the sufferer to respond to social events with fear, instead of excitement and pleasure.
Relaxed socializing is so pleasurable, not to say productive, but it is an advantage denied to many until they learn to relax. To start reducing your own shyness, I want you to absorb the following tips and ideas and start to put them into practice:
1) Think about the way you feel and behave around familiar people you are comfortable and spontaneous around. It's that feeling transferred to new people and situations that equates to your emerging social confidence.
2) Focus your attention away from yourself. Sure, you can think a little bit about how you are coming across, but if all your focus is on your own words and feelings then you might as well be by yourself. Notice what other people are wearing and make a mental note, listen to their conversation, imagine where they might live, make a point of remembering names. Not only does this give you more to talk about, it also 'dilutes' social anxiety leaving you feeling calmer.
3) Ask people open questions. Many people like to talk about themselves and will find you interesting if you find them interesting. Ask questions that require more than a 'yes'/'no' response such as 'What do you like about this place?' rather than: 'Do you like this place?' Once they've answered use 'add-on' questions connected to the first such as: 'What other places do you like in this city.?' Next you can express your views. This is a great way to get the conversation going. If the conversation doesn't 'take' then no matter, you've done your bit.
4) Stop trusting your imagination so much! Have you ever had an imaginary picture in your mind of a holiday destination only to arrive and find the reality is different from the way you had imagined? That's how reliable imagination is. Stop imagining what others think. I do lots of public speaking and I've long since stopped trying to second guess what others think of me - it's just too painful. Besides, what a person thinks about you has a lot more to do with who they are than who you are.
5) Stop using 'all or nothing' thinking. The 'completely this/completely that' style of thought occurs when you are emotional. People who are depressed, angry or anxious see reality in terms of differing extremes, simplistic all or nothing terms. An angry person is 'right' and you are 'wrong'; the depressed person feels like a 'failure' while others are a 'success'. In reality, life is composed of infinite gray areas. So stop fearing that you might say the 'wrong' thing! Or that people will 'hate' you. Once you start to relax more socially you'll notice much less black or white thinking because anxiety actually causes you to think in all or nothing terms.
6) Take your time. You don't have to blurt things out. Ask questions and if questions are asked of you can take time to consider your response (within reason). Don't just blurt out what you think might be the 'right' answer. A slow answer is a relaxed answer.
7) Finally, use hypnotic rehearsal. Hypnosis is the quickest way to change your instinctive/emotional response to any situation. Only think about meeting others when your mind and body is relaxed. This conditions you to associate relaxation with being around new people. In fact you'll find that when you relax deeply enough often enough whilst hypnotically rehearsing being comfortable around others you'll reach the point where you just can't be shy any more! This is what I call a 'happy inability!'
I now love meeting new people and suspect that my current social confidence would be unrecognizable to my fifteen year old self.
Overcome shyness now at HypnosisDownloads.com
Article by Mark Tyrrell of Hypnosis Downloads.com.
Remember the early days of your relationship with your spouse?
Today, if you are like me, you and your partner are mere versions of your younger selves, focused now on things like:
The reason so many couples find themselves feeling distanced from each other at this stage of life is simple. We all have a tendency to put our romantic relationship on the back burner after marriage because we think all of the other needs and responsibilities are more pressing. The kids need you. Work needs you. Your aging parents need you. The youth sports teams needs you. Your friends need you. Your house needs you. Afterall, this is the person you are spending the rest of your life with so they will always be there beside you. It’s ok to put your relationship on the back burner right now. How exciting will it be to spend your golden years of retirement with them?
What if you never get to enjoy those years? What if you make it to retirement but after spending decades focusing on others, you realize that you no longer know your partner. Worse yet, what if you realize that you no longer like each other? What if something terrible happens and you don’t get to make it to retirement age?
Sure, putting things on the proverbial back burner can work for a little bit. But, what happens if you leave something on the actual back burner? Eventually it dries out, maybe burns, and becomes a failure.
Marriages are the same.
It’s time to take your relationship off the back burner and start nurturing it now, before it’s too late.
Here are 9 ways to reconnect with your partner and put the focus back on your relationship without compromising your other responsibilities:
1. Date your partner
I cannot stress enough the value of dating your partner. While you may not be able to afford to hire a babysitter for at least one night each month, you can certainly find a way to creatively date your partner.
Maybe it means taking a day off from work during the day while kids are at school or at grandmas house so you can be alone. Maybe it means working out together at the gym while the kids are in the child care room. Maybe it means simply shutting off the tv, ignoring the dishes, and having a date at home after the kids go to bed. Maybe it means using your money to pay for a sitter and then having an inexpensive date while you walk around Target together.
It doesn’t have to be fancy, romantic, or cost money. You just need to make time for the two of you.
2. Hold staff meetings
You and your partner are essentially running a business. You’re managing a household and that inevitably means there are things like bills, repairs, and maintenance that need to be addressed. If you have children and/or pets, then you also have medical appointments and logistical considerations for others. Let’s not forget about things like laundry, meal prep, shopping, and cleaning.
Would you ever expect a company to run effectively without having some type of formal and consistent check in?
Marriages are the same. Schedule 30-minutes each week to check in with each other on the business aspects of your relationship. This can be a great time to compare calendars, identify breakdowns in communication, plan for next steps, and highlight accomplishments and sources of pride. You can also combine this with a date night — just make sure it’s only a portion of the date!
3. Don’t expect mind reading
So often we fall into the trap of expecting our partner to know us so well that they know what we are thinking and what we need. That’s not fair to your partner or to you.
Communicate your needs with your partner. If you come home expecting your partner to have started dinner but you never asked for that to happen, it’s not fair to then be angry or hurt that it didn’t happen.
Don’t let missed opportunities for communicating your needs lead to built up resentment.
4. Learn your love language
So often members of a couple feel as though their partner is not showing them love. In reality, though, they aren’t speaking their partner’s love language.
My partner may bring me flowers and little gifts, thinking that I know it means he loves me. But, we have learned that Gift Giving is not one of my love languages. Instead, Acts of Service (things like unloading the dishwater or making a doctor’s appointment for the kids or taking out the trash) make me feel loved.
Get on the same page with each other by reading Dr. Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts so you not only know how to recognize your partners expression of love for you but so that you can also more effectively show love to your partner.
5. Take vacations alone
Once you’ve been able to make date nights or date days a priority, the next step is to find a way to take vacations together. This could be a big vacation like a few nights in the Caribbean or traveling through Europe or it could mean you rent an AirBnb or cheap hotel room the next town over for one night.
The location doesn’t matter; what matters is that you have the opportunity to step out of your everyday life just the two of you and reconnect away from the normal routines.
6. Try new things together
Remember what it was like going through all the firsts in your relationship? There is something exciting about experiencing something new with your partner and we lose that spark the longer we’ve been together.
Consider taking up new hobbies or trying new things together. The options are limitless- golfing, dance lessons, hiking, reading a new book together, trying a new restaurant together.
The actual thing you do doesn’t matter. The key is for it to be something new for both of you.
7. Do things that your partner enjoys
It’s very rare that two members of a partnership enjoy all of the same things. Is there something that your partner enjoys that you find extremely boring? Find a way to try to do some of those things with your partner.
Learn that video game they love to play. Go to the concert of the band they really like. Go to that Indian restaurant even though you don’t like that type of cuisine.
Make them feel valued by showing an interest in the things that make them happy.
8. Physical connections
Don’t wait for there to be a natural physical spark between the two of you. With kids and work and responsibilities and pressures and competing schedules, it’s very likely that by the time the two of you reach your bed at the end of the day, the last thing you have the energy for is sex. Those are exactly the times when you need to make a priority though.
What would happen if the next time you found yourself with a fleeting thought of physical connection, you actually pursued it and put sleep or that pile of laundry off for a little bit longer?
What kind of impact would it have on your relationship if your put physical connection a bit higher up on your list of priorities?
9. Lean into each other, not away
When things get hard many couples lean away from each other. They complain and vent to their friends when their partner does something hurtful or irritating. They ignore opportunities to communicate directly with each other about concerns, instead leaving their relationship open to built up feelings of resentment and anger.
Lean into each other during those difficult times. Have those challenging and uncomfortable conversations with each other.
It’s what we do in almost all other aspects of our life, right? We have difficult conversations with our children, our friends, our coworkers, other parents on the sidelines at our kids games, and even strangers on social media. So, why won’t we do it with our partners? Is it maybe because we are leaving our relationship on the back burner, assuming we’ll have time to address it in the future?
The time to strengthen your marriage is now and you can find ways to reconnect meaningfully with your partner without taking your attention away from the other important relationships in your life.
Wouldn’t those younger versions of yourselves want you to make your marriage a priority now?
After spending nearly a year producing podcasts on topics including grief, parenting, health and wellness, relationships, and pop culture, it can be a bit of a challenge to find the episodes that are most meaningful and useful to you. We want to make it easy for you to find the resources you are looking for without having to spend time searching and filtering.
Here are 11 of our most popular Relationship Podcast Episodes:
1. Episode 4: Do You Speak "Love"?
2. Episode 8: Improving Your Relationship
3. Episode 14: Repairing your relationship
4. Episode 19: What Does an Apology Mean to You?
5. Episode 23: The Love Map Game
6. Episode 31: Island Survivor Game
7. Episode 36: Your Last Argument
8. Episode 40: Changing Perspectives on Relationships
9. Episode 41: Relationship Kaizen
10. Episode 54: Relationship Resolutions
11. Episode 56: Relationships and Technology
The elementary school drop off line is quite possibly Hell on Earth. It is here that we see the worst of our society. In this line, rules don’t matter. It is every mom or dad for themselves. Every morning in the drop off line is like a trip to a casino; except this casino doesn’t come with a fancy hotel room, free cocktails, or lavish shows. Nevertheless, just like at a casino, I get to try my luck at being a winner and I never know what I’m going to get. As I pull down the school street each morning, I brace myself for the unknown. What will the other parents do this morning?
Will I get lucky and sail to the front of the line where my well trained 10 year old can tuck and roll out of the car, shouting “I love you!” over his shoulder as he maneuvers himself masterfully out of my almost still moving car?
Will I get stuck backed up onto the main street where I silently (and sometimes not so silently) curse the parents in front of me who choose to blatantly ignore every rule that has ever existed in the drop off line?
Will the parents in the cars in front of me actually pay attention to the school and police staff members waving them forward and pull all the way up to the front of the line?
Will they pull their car up to the middle of the line, get out and start walking into the school, ignoring the directions shouted to them by the teachers and police officer to get back into their vehicle and park in the parking lot? (By the way, I feel pity for those poor teachers and police officers each morning. What a dreadful way to start their day.)
Will they instruct their child to unbuckle their seat belt and gather their belongings while their car glides to a stop at the front of the line, making for an almost imperceptible stop of their vehicle?
Will they pull their car into the line, put it into park, and slowly get out of the driver’s seat, meandering around to the passenger’s side to help their cherubs out of the car? And will those little angels move with the slow oozing pace of a young child who has to “do it myself!!”?
Will they respectfully and without any deviation follow all of the drop off line rules that have been repeatedly posted on social media, sent home with children and plastered in front of the school building?
Will they pull up to the curb and then take 5 minutes reviewing homework slips, giving big hugs and kisses to their child, and getting engrossed at the open passenger side door in a lengthy conversation about after-school plans?
Will they complete the early morning drop off of their child without any incident?
Will they stop their car self-righteously in front of the main entrance, blocking the crosswalk from the parking lot and cause traffic to back out onto the main road, inevitably making many of us late for work?
The madness of the carpool drop off line is enough to drive any parent crazy, especially if you are like me and have a carefully choreographed morning that allows you to pull into work *just* in time after dropping your child off at school. But what happens when we allow this maddening free-for-all to dictate our morning? Does it mean that we then find ourselves short tempered for the rest of the morning? Do we carry that stress with us into our work or into the rest of our day with our children? How can we take away the power that damn line has over us?
I found myself pondering these very questions the other day when the mom in front of me stopped right in front of the main entrance and then opened every single door of the car to help children climb out — front seat, both back seats AND the rear hatch. Each child got an individual hug and kiss, a check of their backpack and lunchboxes, and time for some exchange of words that made each child smile. The eye rolls from the other parents stuck behind them were almost audible and the mom could not have cared less about the directions being yelled at her by the school staff.
While this display only held me up by about 3 minutes, I felt it physically in my body. My face turned red, my hands clenched the steering wheel tighter, and I began adding up all the extra time that was now being tacked on to my commute to work. It set off that familiar anxious chatter in my brain of all the things that could now go wrong. Now I would be stuck behind the school bus picking up kids in the next town and then I would be stuck for at least 3 light cycles at that big intersection near my work. I would not have much time to get myself prepared for my first patient and would have to wait to send that important email to my students.
When I of course got stuck behind that school bus, I started to realize how silly it was to let that one mom’s goodbye to her children ruin my day. My day had only just begun. I still had hours and hours ahead of me. So what if I was a few minutes late for work? The world wouldn’t end and, truthfully, if my schedule is really that tight then I should make sure I leave the house early enough to be the first parent in that line.
As I followed the bus down the main road, stopping every few houses to let on another child, I wondered if there was a way to re-frame the way I experience the drop off line. Rather than allowing myself to feel anger and frustration towards the parents who are breaking the rules, would it be possible to try to find a way to feel empathy for them? Perhaps something in their lives is so stressful, so painful, so exhausting that they simply don’t have the mental or physical energy to follow the drop off line rules. Maybe it’s all they can do to get themselves and their kids out the door on time. Maybe that mom really needed all that extra time with her kids that morning.
Maybe in the grand scheme of life it doesn’t really matter that much. These days where we get to roll the dice every morning with the drop off line are going to be over soon. Soon our kids will be choosing to walk with their friends, ride their bike, or take the bus to school instead of sitting with us in that drop off line. Eventually, some day sooner than we’d like to admit, they will be driving themselves. Not too soon after that, they won’t even be living in our house anymore. Maybe these extra few minutes with them each morning are really a gift. Maybe we are winning after all.
As I sat at my desk during my 10 minute break between grief therapy clients, I opened my Facebook app to scroll mindlessly for a few moments, completely unaware that my life was about to change.
A photo of one of my friends filled my feed instantly. It was a beautiful photo of her, one that captured her love for all people and her genuine desire to make life better for everyone. I skimmed the headline beneath the photo quickly and my brain couldn’t compute what I was seeing. The gruesome, horrific, unreal words didn’t match the photo before me of the carefree young woman that danced the night away at my wedding or led classrooms full of preschoolers in silly songs alongside me.
It couldn’t be.
With a shaking finger, I clicked on the link and my brain was finally able to make the connection.
We failed her.
The society she worked so hard to make better had failed her, letting her and her daughter die a horrible death at the hands of the man that was supposed to love them most. It’s a fate shared by many women and now she was part of the startling statistic of women whose desire to leave their partner led to their own murders.
Tears spilled freely from me in that moment. I’m not so sure she ever really knew how much her role as a mentor had meant to me or how much it had changed the course of my personal and professional life. I don’t know that I ever really told her how much I had learned from her and how much I always wished I had the courage to commit my life to making the kind of global changes that she so selflessly has made. I hope she knew how much of a ripple she had left in my life but I can never know for sure.
Now it’s too late. She’s gone.
Nausea swept over me and I broke out into a cold sweat as my brain began to process the terror she must have felt in her final days, final hours, and final moments as she realized she had no way to escape.
As dark as it was, I wanted to stay in the moment of grief, that space of remembering her, but the clock kept ticking and in just a minute I was due to provide grief therapy to another patient. I quickly pulled myself together, fixed my face, and pushed my emotions into a far off corner in my mind so that I could hold space for someone else’s grief, hoping that I would be able to process all of my feelings later on.
After leaving work that day, I briefly exchanged text messages about the awful story with some of my closest friends and shared a Facebook post not about the manner of her death but about her contributions to the world, as if somehow disconnecting the photo of her beautiful face from the horrible headline could alter reality.
Then I went about my night. I sat at a friend’s kitchen counter with other moms, making decorations for a youth football championship game while chitchatting about mundane stuff.
My brain both craved this simple, unemotional task and yet also wanted to reject it.
I wanted to set the football decorations aside and share her legacy with everyone. I wanted to tell them about her, her work, the sheer number of lives she changed, and my memories of her from such a pivotal time in my life.
But no one wants to talk about sadness or grief or loss or death.
So, I didn’t bring it up and neither did any of the people there with me. Collectively and silently we somehow agreed to pretend it hadn’t happened. We minimized the reality of her death and ultimately minimized her and her life.
I moved through the space of the next few days in a deeply contemplative state, as one often does when the unexpected and terrible occurs in life. Suddenly things that seemed incredibly important paled in comparison to what my friend had gone through; what her family and community were going through.
My own priorities snapped into focus. Life is far too short for many of us and tomorrow is not a guarantee. So, why waste any of it on the things and the people that hurt you or don’t make your life better? What is going to matter most at the end of my own life? What will my legacy be? Do the people who matter to me know how much they matter?
After a loss or trauma, the world marches on, leaving the grievers behind to pick up their own pieces, or to at least pretend they are picking up their own pieces. But, inside there is a constant loop of questions being asked and a deep yearning to be given permission to talk about their grief.
The reality is that we are surrounded by hurting people all the time; people who want to talk about the sad stuff. They want us to ask them about their dead child, their murdered friend, their dying grandparent, or the struggles of waiting to find out if their biopsy is cancerous. They are craving permission to share their inner struggles about trying to find a way to make sense of the saddest parts of our lives.
But, instead we throw ourselves into the things that don’t matter: small town politics, conflict in surface-level friendships, baskets of laundry that are overflowing, traffic that adds 15 minutes to our commute, gossip, drama, nonsense. At the end of our lives, none of it will matter.
Imagine how much more beautiful this life could be if we all were just a little more real with each other. Imagine the benefits to being just a bit more vulnerable. What would it be like if we all focused more on real connections and sloughed off the stuff that won’t matter when we are at the end of our own lives? I wonder if the outcome would have been different if more people had done this for my friend. Perhaps it wouldn’t have changed what happened to her but maybe, just maybe, it would have given her a few extra moments of hope, comfort, and validation.
We have work to do.
After spending nearly a year producing podcasts on topics including grief, parenting, health and wellness, relationships, and pop culture, it can be a bit of a challenge to find the episodes that are most meaningful and useful to you. We want to make it easy for you to find the resources you are looking for without having to spend time searching and filtering.
Here are 11 of our most popular Grief Podcast Episodes:
Article by Mark Tyrrell of Hypnosis Downloads.com.
How neediness and emotional insecurity destroy relationships
"Please, clouds, don't rain!" Not going to work, is it?
And neither will trying to reassure someone who just can't be reassured. They will go on fretting, no matter how you plead.
Chronic insecurity in your relationship is a major problem. Why? Because relationships really, deeply matter. Your health, your wellbeing, your happiness are affected by your relationships more than any other factor. And your most intimate relationships have the biggest effect of all.
It's not just the insecure person who suffers
Feeling insecure in a relationship is horrible for the one who is feeling the insecurity. The burden - of fear and obsessive thoughts, of feeling powerless, of awful awareness that all this insecurity may actually itself be destroying what you treasure most - can feel pretty unbearable.
But it's also tough for the person on the receiving end of all that insecurity. The truth is that being involved with a really insecure person can be hell.
This article highlighted what a common problem insecurity is
I wrote an article a while back on overcoming insecurity in relationships and was inundated with feedback from all over the world. The scores of comments on the article itself were just the tip of the iceberg. My inbox overflowed with hundreds more private emails from people wracked by feelings of relationship insecurity.
That article, which explores the reasons for insecurity and offers practical tips to help overcome it, eventually became the springboard for the development of the new 10 steps to overcoming insecurity in relationships course. My article was mainly addressed to those who are themselves feeling insecure in a relationship; but I also got - and still get - hundreds of emails from people who have extremely insecure partners. A common recurring theme of these accounts is how isolating it can feel to find yourself in a relationship with someone who is deeply insecure. And this is one major reason why extreme insecurity can be so damaging.
Why reassuring your insecure partner is almost a lie
Because 'reassurance' is what insecure people want most, and anyone can say reassuring things, it's all too easy for partners (and friends) to offer reassurances that everything is "really okay" in the relationship even when it isn't.This is a kind of denial. And - ironically - the reasons it might not be okay are often the product of the insecurity itself.
Sometimes the only genuine problem in a relationship is the emotional insecurity of one partner and the effect that has on the relationship as a whole. But it's easy to fall into a pattern of always pretending everything is fine, even when the insecurity becomes really damaging. Such pretense becomes isolating and can drive partners further apart. This is how insecurity can damage or even destroy the relationship.
Relationships thrive on intimacy, and intimacy stems from feeling you can safely be yourself with your partner. So what does it feel like to be in a relationship with a very insecure partner?
Worrying about relationship breakup creates it
Insecurity stemming from a fear of losing intimacy can actually bring on that loss of intimacy. Jake, a former client, described it like this:
"I actually feel totally disconnected from Sara now. She doubts my every word, doesn't believe me when I say I've been working, and constantly misinterprets what I say. It's driving me nuts! And the angrier I get, the more insecure she gets. I can't win! I've tried being sympathetic, but now everything has to be on her terms, I have to ask myself all the time - is this going to upset her or not?"
Jake told me how he had started to feel very lonely in his relationship, like he had no one to talk to, because "Talking to Sara is like walking on egg shells - will I say the wrong thing? Will she take it the wrong way?"
He, like many who are close to someone so insecure, found himself getting more and more emotionally distant from Sara. He felt less able to speak to her about how he felt, and less able to relax around her. Loneliness isn't about being alone so much as feeling alone with others - because you feel misunderstood by them - and that's how Jake now felt with Sara. He'd begun to feel trapped, finding it hard to be around her but also hard not to be around her, because he knew how painful it was for her to be wondering where he was or whom he was with.
The painful truth is that insecurity can lead to the death of intimacy in a relationship - the fear of losing something can actually bring about that loss. Trying to force intimacy or love - demanding to know how someone feels, what they are thinking, who they've been talking to, what they are doing - can just drive them further from you.
So what should you do if you are in a relationship with a really insecure person?
How to tell if you have a truly insecure partner
It's vital to figure out whether the person you are with isgenuinely excessively insecure. Some jealousy and insecurity is actually normal in most relationships from time to time - especially in the early stages. Insecure people are often insecure about their insecurity, because they instinctively know how damaging it can be. But if insecurity is a constant and central feature of the relationship then, yes, it is a problem and a potential cause of breakdown. Of course you can reassure your partner, reason with them, and be gentle and loving toward them, but it's important not to make too many adaptations for them. This was the mistake Jake made. He had completely stopped spending any time with his friends without Sara. He rang her on the hour, every hour, when he had to work late. He told her he loved her so many times a day that it was more like a chore rather than a genuine expression of how he felt. And after a while the relationship no longer felt real to him.
If the relationship becomes all about reassuring and not upsetting the insecure partner, you and your needs get sidelined to the point that the relationship can start to feel meaningless for you. Jake and Sara's relationship only improved once Sara herself addressed her insecurity, and learned to trust and relax more with not "having to know" what Jake was thinking or doing all the time. Her self esteem improved and, in turn, he then felt more valued, and no longer trapped or forced to behave in prescribed ways. At last he was being listened to and respected again.
If your insecure partner has enough insight to know they need to change, then you really can encourage them to make those changes that could make such a difference for both of you. Ultimately, no one should have to be constantly "on call" to their partner, or emotionally isolated by them. Good relationships are reciprocal, not one-sided. They flourish when partners trust each other, accept each other, give each other space, forgive each other for failings - and enjoy each other. You and your partner both deserve that. Read more about 10 Steps to Overcome Insecurity in Relationships by Mark Tyrrell
It’s that time of year again.
All around us are the sights, sounds and smells of the holidays.
Stores are beginning to fill their aisles with holiday decorations and pine tree scents. Soon Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks will roll out their festive holiday cups and radio stations will begin playing the first notes of holiday music. Before we know it, Santa will be arriving in locations all around us to pose for photos with children. Already families can be seen in local parks and pretty fields taking their annual family portraits for their Christmas cards. Restaurants are advertising their holiday meal order schedules and holiday party invites have already made it to some people's inboxes.
Such a wonderful and joyous time of the year. Right?
Not for everyone.
For many people, the winter holidays are excruciatingly painful. Either they have recently lost a loved one and this will be their first holiday season without them or the holiday season is a sad reminder of their lost loved one.
When they see all the happy, smiling faces on Christmas cards, they are reminded that their loved one won’t be on any cards this season.
That adorable, heart-warming commercial with the cheerful family seated around the Thanksgiving dinner table makes them realize there will be an empty chair at their own Thanksgiving table this year.
While perusing their local Target, a holiday sale banner catches their eye and they see “the” perfect gift for their loved one, forgetting for just a split second that there will be no gift exchange with their lost loved one this year.
Maybe you know these people.
You probably do. Think about your friends, your family, your coworkers. How many of them lost someone within the past year? How many lost a very important person ever and might ache for them throughout the holiday season?
Maybe this person is you and you find yourself dreading the holiday season.
For those of us living in parts of the country where the sun sets earlier, leaving us in darkness from 4:30pm on, the nights can start to feel painfully long and lonely this time of year. The colder weather forces us indoors, encouraging us to hibernate. But if you have recently lost a loved one, the longer nights, colder temperatures, and holidays on the horizon can all add up to a deep, dark sadness.
Whether you are the one hurting this holiday season or you know someone for whom the holidays are difficult, here are some tips to help you manage the grief that is often so palpable this time of year.
1. Honor your loved one
So often our society pressures us to “move on,” “heal,” “find closure,” or “let go” of our loved ones.
Those messages are wrong.
We shouldn’t be letting go; we should be finding new ways to hold on to them, hold onto our memories of them, and find a new way to feel connected to them.
Spend some time thinking about how best to honor your loved one this season. It could be as simple as lighting a candle or hanging a special ornament on your tree. Maybe it’s volunteering to feed the homeless, host a toy drive for children, or sponsoring a family for Christmas. Go to their favorite restaurant. Cook their famous side dish. Wear their necklace.
Stop trying to forget them.
Instead, embrace your memories of them. Talk about them. Say their name and say it often.
2. Allow yourself to feel
It’s amazing how connected our senses are to our emotions. Just a certain smell in the air or a song on the radio can take us back to another time in our life. The holidays can do this too.
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself more emotional than usual.
If you need to cry, cry. If you you need to express some anger, take up kickboxing or scream into a pillow. Seriously. Let out your emotions.
If you try to bottle up all of your feelings, they probably will escape at the most inopportune times — like when your child spills his glass of apple juice, someone cuts you off on the highway, or that lady in front of you tries to sneak 13 items into the 12 item or less express line at the grocery store.
Feeling all of your emotions doesn’t make you weak; it makes you human.
3. Be social…or don’t
It’s normal to not want to celebrate at all during the holidays after a loss.
Seeing so many people laughing and filled with joy can feel surreal when your world is still spinning uncontrollably after a loss. If you don’t want to attend some of the holiday functions, don’t. You know yourself best.
One word of caution, however: isolation after a loss can lead to depression and complicated grief. Sometimes it’s good to force yourself to socialize, just a little. When you do accept an invitation somewhere, though, give yourself an escape route to use if things suddenly feel too much. Give one or two friends that will be at these events a heads up that you may need to quickly duck out. This little bit of planning means that you are giving yourself permission to leave whenever you need to leave, without having to worry about explaining your quick departure to anyone.
4. Speak up
For many people, their support networks kick into hyper-drive following a loss. Phone calls, texts, visits, casseroles, and cards are pouring in almost non-stop immediately following the death.
But after the funeral, those types of support can suddenly come to a crashing halt. Do people suddenly stop caring? No.
Many people are uncomfortable around grief and simply don’t know what to say, what to do or how to act. So, they avoid.
Don’t be afraid to tell your support network what you need. It’s ok to ask for specific things like invitations to social events, regular phone calls, a visit, staying away for a while, and even practical help with things like errands and child care.
In most cases, your support network will be delighted to have been given a specific way to be useful and supportive for you.
5. Be kind to yourself
Watch for negative self-talk and talking down about yourself. Thinking or saying things like these ones only bring us down more:
“I shouldn’t be crying like this.”
“This shouldn’t bother me so much.”
“What’s wrong with me”
Be kind and understanding to yourself.
Grief doesn’t go away. It’s always there inside you. You carry it around with you and sometimes it’s heavier than other times. It’s normal and it’s ok. Recognize that it is normal for this time of year to be more painful and challenging.
This is a good time of year to try to look for the things and people that bring you hope. Do things that make you feel good and nurture yourself. Yoga. Walk. Exercise. Journal. Read. Play music. Listen to music. Start therapy. Attend a support group.
Remember that you are human and deserve compassion — especially from yourself.
Friendships in our adulthood can be complicated and challenging to navigate. I’m not sure why this has come as a surprise to me — I suppose I mistakenly assumed that all the hard relationship stuff would be over once I was done with middle and high school. I thought I would graduate from high school and leave all the bad hair, fashion faux pas, and drama behind.
I was wrong. Adulthood is just the next level of complicated and adult friendships are just the next level of challenging.
One of the most difficult aspects of adult friendships can be deciding when to end one. Sometimes, though, the decision you need to make can be pretty clear, especially if your friend is demonstrating any of the 7 tell-tale signs that the friendship is a toxic one:
1. They ghost you
If you’ve ever been ghosted by someone, you know how much it hurts. One minute you are a part of that person’s life and the next it’s as if you never existed. Phone calls, text messages, invitations, and even acknowledgements in public just come to a screeching halt. Even if there have been hurt feelings or mistakes in a friendship, resorting to completely ignoring someone is just plain childish.
2. They are talking about you
If word is getting back to you that your friend is talking about you in a negative way to other people or is sharing private details about you to others without your permission, that behavior indicates a lack of respect for you. You deserve better. You should be able to trust your friends to come to you directly with concerns and to be able to keep your confidential information private.
3. They hold grudges or keep score
If your friend is someone who routinely brings up mistakes you made from weeks, months, or years ago to justify their own poor behavior, they are telling you that your relationship is not one that is unconditional. They are keeping score and if you mess up (which you will, because you are a human), they could hold that over your head in the future. Who needs friends that aren’t willing to forgive you for mistakes?
4. They only reach out to you when they want something
When you really take a step back and evaluate your relationship, who is doing the initiating of texts, phone calls, and invitations? Are you always the one checking in on them, following up on them, inviting them to spend time together, or sharing stories? Do they only initiate contact with you when they need support or a favor? You deserve friends who give as much as they take.
5. They try to show off or make you feel jealous
When you are together, either alone or in a group, does your friend often make it a point to share details, photos, videos, or stories from parties and events to which you were not invited? Are they sure to highlight how close they are with some of your other friends? Actions like that may be excusable from children, but not from adult friends.
6. They make you cry more than they make you laugh
If you look back over the entirety of your relationship, do you have more memories of feeling hurt, angry, or ignored than you do of sharing joy with your friend? What is the point of a friendship if it brings you mostly pain and hurt?
7. People are telling you to walk away
Are other people around you noticing some of the behaviors listed above? Are they asking you what is going on with the two of you? Are they encouraging you to cut ties and walk away? Are they telling you that you deserve to be treated better? They are right, you know.
If any of these signs resonate with you and sound like your friend, it may be time for you to make a decision about where to go next in your relationship. Be honest with yourself — do you ever display any of these behaviors yourself? What level of responsibility can you accept for the current state of your friendship? Do you want to attempt to repair the relationship, change the relationship, or walk away completely from the relationship?
It’s important to remember that life is too short to allow yourself to be mistreated, disrespected, belittled, or made to feel invisible. Often, when we make the decision to walk away from a friendship and we turn our attention elsewhere, we find friendships that are much more deserving of our attention, trust, and time. It’s ok to give yourself permission to want more from the people in your life.
You deserve to be happy.
Online shopping and home delivery are two of my best friends in life. Need a last minute school supply and don't feel like sorting through half-empty bins at the local Target? Hop on Amazon.com and they can be at your door within 2 days. Need a gift for a party this weekend? Amazon will do that for you. Need someone to ship toilet paper to you every month so that you never run out? Amazon can do that.
You know what else Amazon is good for? Helping you manage your stress and anxiety. Honestly. There are lots of products available on the Amazon website that can be useful tools to have in your anxiety management toolkit and below you can find 7 of my favorites. Some of these links are considered "affiliate links," meaning if you click through these links to make a purchase, I might earn a small commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and these products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. All of these are products that I have used personally or professionally and many have also been successfully used by my clients and colleagues.
1. Weighted Blanket
Are you someone who likes a good hug or snuggling up under a warm blanket? Do you feel better when you can sit somewhere that makes you feel safe and secure? A weighted blanket provides all of those physical sensations. I first used weighted blankets over 25 years ago when I worked with children who had sensory processing difficulty. The blankets were heavier than your normal blanket and would help calm them and make them feel safe. I soon learned that they also worked for me, giving me an instant feeling of calmness even from holding the blanket on my lap. Today, weighted blankets are available in a variety of sizes from lap blankets to king size blankets and in a wide variety of weights. I promise you, a weighted blanket will quickly become your favorite item to turn to when feeling anxious and overwhelmed.
2. Essential Oils
I use essential oils all the time in my home and in my office. (For more information on how I use essential oils, visit "Seven Ways to Use Essential Oils.") When it comes to anxiety relief, there are essential oil blends specifically formulated to reduce stress, improve relaxation, and help you to calm your mind. You can use some of these oils topically (mix them with a carrier oil first such as almond oil) or even ingested. I prefer to diffuse a few drops of them in an essential oil diffuser. Just a few drops will help to ease any stress and anxiety you or your family may be feeling and it will leave the air smelling fresh!
3. Workbooks and Journals
If you are self-motivated, workbooks and journals can be a great tool to use to help you gain insight into the root causes of your anxiety. You can set some time aside each morning or evening to review a section and complete some of the worksheets included. Although not a replacement for one on one counseling, workbooks and journals like the ones below can be an excellent way to help you start to gain control of your anxious feelings.
4. Zen Garden
If you have ever seen these tabletop Zen Gardens, you know how calming it can be to allow yourself to do nothing but rake the sand and lay out the decorative rocks. Adding one of these to your desk at work or to a tablespace at home will provide you with a daily reminder to slow down and breathe.
5. At Home Fitness
One of the most effective ways to combat anxiety is to find a way to release some of the pent-up anxious energy. Exercise is a perfect way to do this. If you don't have time or the funds to go to a gym, there are lots of ways that you can work out right in your own home. Cardio has a lot of benefits when it comes to anxiety management so a simple home exercise machine like a rower or a stationary bike can be a good addition to your routine. You can get one delivered to your door for less than $120. That's a small price to pay for some anxiety relief.
6. Adult Coloring Books
There is something very calming and relaxing about coloring an intricately designed picture. I'm not talking about cartoon character coloring books like we had when we were young. These coloring book options for adults are meant to take some time and are even more enjoyable when done with a set of good quality thin tip markers or colored pencils. This is an activity you can do with others too. So, grab a few friends, put out some refreshments and get your coloring on! Watch as your anxiety starts to drift away.
7. Bath Bombs
You either are a bath person or you've never actually had a good bath. A nice hot bath at the end of a long day can be a great way to quiet your mind and increase your relaxation. Bath bombs can make the experience even more beneficial by adding some calming fragrance and skin softening properties to the water. Don't like bath bombs? Try bath salts or take a bubble bath. No matter how you prefer your bath, make some time to pause from your daily hustle to slow down and relax.
Wouldn't it be great to feel like you have a bit of a better handle on your anxiety? Can you imagine your life without the weight of anxiety always looming over it? Isn't it time to add to your anxiety management tool kit? Go ahead and invest in yourself!
When I became a parent nearly 14 years ago, I knew absolutely nothing about parenting. I’d read all the baby books, perused all the baby websites, signed up for the weekly emails about my baby’s development and yet still was woefully under-prepared for what it would take to be a mother.
Not much has changed since then. I still feel inadequate most days as I stumble my way through the maze of parenthood.
As my oldest approaches his 14th birthday, I find myself amazed by how much he has changed in just one year. Facebook Memories and Timehop remind me almost daily that every day he steps closer and closer to adulthood, slipping further and further away from childhood.
Blinking back tears, I look at him today, amazed at the young man he has become and I am humbled by just how much he has taught me during his 13th year:
1. Hold on loosely, but don’t let go
It turns out that 80’s bands gave us more than just good music — they gave us solid advice to live by as parents. My 13 year old has taught me this year that while I need to hold onto him and continue to guide him, I can’t cling too tightly. He needs space to find himself and that means space to make his own mistakes. If I hold too tightly, he’s never going to learn how to make it as an adult.
2. Hit the Whoa
Every year there is some new “dance” that takes over on Tik Tok and You Tube. If you’re lucky, your 13 year old will tell you about it, teach you it, and then tolerate you when you are in public and try to show off your skills. I’m still not exactly sure what the Whoa actually is though…
3. Be honest with friends
Middle school has been rough for me as a parent this past year, as it turns out that middle school drama doesn’t really stop when you leave middle school. It all rears its ugly head again when you become a middle school parent. During moments this past year when my 13 year old caught wind of such drama, he was always very matter of fact and eager to offer advice to me. He always encouraged me to “just talk to them” and be honest. His message — if they are your friends, they’ll understand.
4. Hard work pays off
This past year has seen my 13 year old face a significant arm injury, requiring lots of visits to specialists for testing, physical therapy, and sports restrictions. Pain, daily ice massages on his elbow, strengthening and stretching workout and playing baseball with his team while not really be able to do anything more than swing a bat sometimes would be a lot for any adult to manage, let alone a teenager. But he persevered and was able to finish the final few games of the season without any restrictions. I think most adults, myself included, would have given up.
5. Don’t sweat the small stuff
You can learn a lot from how 13 year old boys handle conflict. While they have their share of disagreements with their friends, get hurt, and have drama, they are quick to let it go and move on. They don’t sweat the small stuff. They let it roll of their backs. We could benefit from doing more of the same as adults.
6. Teen music is great for working out
I think every generation has a “I can’t believe what those kids are listenting to for music these days” moment. But, it turns out, if you are open minded and let them play their music for you, you just may find yourself asking them to add some of those songs to your workout play list. The music those crazy kids are listening to these days is great for cardio and weights at the gym!
7. Sleepovers are the worst
I thought sleepovers would get better as they got older. They don’t. Although they can regulate themselves and then recover a bit quicker than my 10 year old when it comes to going to sleep at a normal time, now that they are teenagers the responsibility of hosting becomes so much more stressful for us as parents. Are other kids bringing in vapes, drugs, or alcohol? Are they going to try to sneak out? Are they doing something on social media that might hurt other kid’s feelings? Nope. Sleepovers for 13 year olds still suck.
8. Disney is magical, even for teenagers
Our family has always loved taking trips to Walt Disney World. Each time we go, we wonder “Is this it? Are they too old for the magic?” It turns out that 13 is not too old! As we were walking out of Epcot park at the end of an evening in Disney last month, my 13 year old leaned over to me and said, “Mom, even though we are older now. Doing this is still a lot of fun.” I tried to give him a hug as tears started forming in my eyes but that was quickly shot down as hugs are a bit of a rare commodity for some teens.
9. Hugs are the greatest gift
When my son was little, he was a great hugger and snuggler. Now, hugs are much harder to come by. But, when I do get a surprise hug hello or thank-you or as a comfort, it is one of the greatest gifts ever. I wish I hadn’t taken all those toddler hugs for granted, I never knew how much I would miss them.
10. Teenagers can navigate
Earlier this month we went tubing down a river in New Hampshire with a large group of families. It was 5 mile river float and we let the group of teenage boys float off together ahead of the adults. Many of us worried that they wouldn’t be aware enough to see the tiny sign that would indicate it was time for them to get off the river. When we rounded the bend and saw the beach with the sign, the teens were nowhere in sight. I immediately wrote them off, assuming they missed it but I could not have been more wrong. Not only had they seen it, but they had returned their floats to the rental place and were waiting together for us near our cars.
11. Car rides are special
Joining a travel sports team has meant lots of long car rides over the past year and although those often meant waking up early and staring at headlights for 2+ hours, they also mean that I got to ride side by side with my 13 year old, trapped in a moving box. Just us. Something special often happens on those long car rides. The air shifts just a bit and he begins to open up about his life, his friends, his feelings, his fears. I love those car rides now.
12. Teens have instincts too
One of the biggest lesson I’ve learned from my 13 year old is that just because we, as adults, are older, doesn’t necessarily mean we are wiser. Teenagers are humans too and have some gut instincts that sometimes are spot on. It’s important to give them a chance to use their voice and share their instincts. Being able to tap into that insight will help them immensely in their adulthood.
13. We need more cereal
One of the primary sources of fuel for 13 year old boys is cereal. It could be a meal for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack and teenagers eat it by the boatload. My 13 year old has taught me to assume that we always need more cereal. If you see me at any store these days, I can guarantee I have some cereal and milk in my cart.
There are whole sections of bookstores devoted to the topic of how to parent a teenager. You could read every single one of those books and still feel unsure of yourself as you navigate the waters of parenting a teenager. But, I’m learning that the best way to parent them is to see them, hear them, and accept them for who they are right now…and feed them lots and lots of cereal.
Jenni, stop! You’re overthinking it!
My friend’s words snapped me out of my anxious thought pattern and brought me back to reality. Nothing about my situation required me to be overthinking anything. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes for a moment, and then opened them, taking in the full scene before me.
It was a sunny summer day without a cloud in the sky. I was spending my Sunday morning lounging in an over-sized inflatable tube, tethered to a group of over two dozen of my friends and their children, all in their own individual tubes, as we floated lazily down 5 miles of a river in New Hampshire. The air was filled with the sound of laughter as music from a speaker in a waterproof pouch provided the soundtrack. Other groups in kayaks and tubes drifted by us, everyone smiling and waving at each other.
What could there possibly be to overthink?
Bags were stowed safely in inflatable rafts of their own, complete with sunscreen, dry towels, cell phones, empty trash bags, and snacks. Even our coolers filled with ice-cold beverages had their own floats, some with very useful cup holders. We could take as much time as we wanted floating down the river back to our cars. We could stop whenever we wanted and rest on a beach at the river’s edge. Everything about the day was laid back and care free.
Except for me.
Just one day before our river tubing trip, my husband, our two sons, and I rode a gondola to the top of a New Hampshire mountain where we took in the breathtaking scenery and prepared to eat a picnic on the mountaintop. As I was taking a photo of the view, my 10 year old found a sign near a trail that indicated it was part of the 2200 mile long Appalachian Trail.
Let’s hike it!
My 10 year old proposed the idea with a huge smile on his face, a smile I don’t see quite as often now that he is approaching his teenage years.
Instantly I began overthinking it.
But we don’t really know where it goes…We were going to take the gondola back down….We have our lunch with us…I don’t know how hard the trail is…What if someone gets hurt…
My 10 year old son and my 13 year old sons looked at me and sighed.
Come on, Mom! It’ll be fun. We’ll just go in and when we want to be done, we’ll turn around and come back out.
This was a magical moment, my two sons were wanting the same thing and weren’t arguing about anything. Just then my husband came up behind us and when the boys told him their plan, he shrugged his shoulders and said,
That was it. No overthinking. No “what if…” Just, “cool.”
In that moment, I desperately wished I could be more like the three of them — carefree, able to be in the moment, not anxious. So, I pushed all my fears aside and we headed into the trail. The thoughts continued inside my head during our hike but I kept them to myself, determined to not let them ruin my day or anyone else’s day.
It turns out the hike was pretty strenuous. We were climbing up rocks, jumping down over structures, and had a few stumbles. But, we shared a few laughs, got to help each other with the climb and descent, and enjoyed the time on the trail. On our way back to the top of the mountain, we met a woman who was hiking with two companions, each over 70 years old. She shared that they had hiked nearly all of the segments of the Appalachian Trail in their lifetime and this particular part of the trail and one other in the area are all they had left to complete.
There’s no way they were overthinking it. They were living their best life, climbing a flipping mountain at over 70 years old. Yet there I was, in the middle of a mountain, and then in the middle of lazy tubing trip down a river, overthinking all the small stuff.
If I had listened to my anxious thoughts on that mountain, I wouldn’t have the amazing memories my family now has from that trail. I wouldn’t have heard the story about that couple in their 70’s. We wouldn’t have been so interested in the Appalachian Trail that we would read about it later as a family. If I had listened to my anxious thoughts on that river, I wouldn’t have laughed so hard that my stomach was sore the next day. I wouldn’t have found the humor in so many memories from that day, even when our group of tubes got caught on some mini rapids and we needed to work to free ourselves. My overthinking almost stopped me from fully living in so many moments on that trip.
So, here I sit, overthinking my overthinking.
Is it possible to leave my overthinking tendencies at home on my next vacation? Could I add “hide the overthinking” to my pre-vacation To Do List? Could I at least tuck it away in my suitcase and just leave it there during the trip like all the unused “just in case” shirts and outfits?
I’m not quite sure of the answer but what I do know is that even if my anxious thoughts tag along on my next vacation, I don’t have to listen to them. I don’t have to believe them. I don’t have to give them power. I don’t want to let them keep me from fully enjoying my vacation, my family, my friends, or my life.
Instead, at least for now, I can simply keep telling myself,
Jenni, stop! You’re overthinking it!
About Changing Perspectives
I often find myself encouraging people to consider changing their perspective or reframe the way in which they view things. This blog is an extension of that practice and is also an opportunity for me to write from a number of different perspectives including clinician, educator, mother, friend and supervisor. Blog topics are also quite varied and changeable. Topics explored include, but are certainly not limited to, grief, parenting, health and wellness and relationships. Join me and explore a number of changing perspectives!