Postpartum Support International's Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders Certification Program

I thoroughly enjoyed my three days of training in Evanston, IL to learn about and become trained in Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. Bringing this knowledge back to my practice, I hope to help women who are expecting and who have recently brought home a new baby to deal and better cope with the variety of mood and anxiety concerns that can arise. You are not alone if you are struggling with feeling depressed, disappointed, anxious, chaotic, confused or do not feel you are bonding with your child. There are skills and coping tools we can work through together to get you more support and to combat those feelings of inadequacy you may be struggling with. Contact me to see about coming in and getting help!

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NEEDS

January is Mental Wellness Month, and also the start of the new year. In other words, it's a good time to look at what you need to make this year, or even this week, as balanced and positive as possible. One way to think about how we create balance and positivity in our lives is to look at our varying needs and to assess how well those needs are being met. 
Think of needs as ever-evolving and as balance as something we are constantly working on. It's like driving down a straight road: you still find yourself adjusting the wheel slightly to the left and right to stay straight. So you will find yourself always making slight adjustments here and there to find the right balance. 

TYPES OF NEEDS

There are many different types of needs that humans have. 

PHYSICAL: Of course, we have our basis physiological requirements for human survival, such as air, water, food, clothing, shelter, and rest. As basic as these seem to be, life gets busy and other needs and demands can get in the way of even our most basic of needs. So ask yourself, am I getting enough rest? Enough water? Even enough air? 
You might try setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to take breaks during the day to do some deep breathing or to take a sip of water and check in with yourself. 

SOCIAL: My favorite kind! Social needs include such things as love, acceptance, belonging and connection. Some of the things that satisfy this need include: Friendships, Romantic attachments, Family, Social groups, Community groups, religious institutions or organizations. It can be tough to carve out time for this, so try even shooting a friend a text and telling them to have a good day, or making plans weeks in advance as sometimes is required when you are adult-ing. 

INTELLECTUAL: Intellectual needs refer to the need to stimulate curiosity and exploration of the world and of topics of interest. Ways to get this need met are: Reading, Writing, Taking classes, Discussing/Debating with others, Listening to podcasts, Joining a book group. I often throw a podcast or an Audible book on while driving or exercising, and love reading the same books as a friend or family member and casually discussing the book when we're both finished. 

CREATIVE: Creative needs include the need we have to express our inner experience in different ways, including engaging in our own creative outlets (art, dance, writing) or viewing others' creative expressions (going to a museum or show). Again, you can combine several needs by engaging in a creative endeavor with a friend or partner. 

EMOTIONAL: My other favorite! Emotional needs involve anything that helps us to process and acknowledge our emotions appropriately and manage our emotions in a way that is effective in our lives. This can include journaling about our feelings, identifying and honoring emotions, communicating to others about our emotional needs and asking for what we need, going to therapy, allowing ourselves time and space to process and prepare for difficult emotional situations. There can be major consequences for not making space for this need! 

SPIRITUAL: Spiritual needs are what we need to connect with a higher power or with the universe around us. They are what help us to find or create meaning in our lives and put our lives into perspective. Ways of getting these needs met: connection with a set of religious or spiritual beliefs about the world and life; giving back to the community; turning pain into a fulfilling or meaningful experience. Therapy or meeting with a spiritual or religious leader in your community are great ways of processing and clarifying what this means to you. Or, start by reading 'Man's Search for Meaning' by Viktor Frankl. 

MYTHS ABOUT NEEDS: 

Now, let's explore some myths about needs that might be helpful to debunk: 

1. MYTH: I should sacrifice my own needs for the needs of others. 
TRUTH: Sure, sometimes we have to do this, and that's ok. Yet make sure you are not ALWAYS doing this or your relationships will become filled with resentment and you will have no sacrifice left in you. 

2. MYTH: Having needs means I am weak. 
TRUTH: All humans have needs. Every moment of our lives we have needs. 

3. MYTH: Asking for what I need is selfish. 
TRUTH: Asking for what you need is assertive and helps others to know how to support you better. You might have to understand that you will not always get your needs met, but it is OK to ask. 

4. MYTH: If others can't meet my needs it means they do not care about me. 
TRUTH: We cannot always meet the needs of those we care about, and this also means we are human. Everyone has their limits and has the right to say no. 

5. MYTH: Those who are close to me should know how to meet my needs. 
TRUTH: Others cannot read our minds, no matter how much they care about us. We have to explicitly tell them what we need. 

Have any other myths or a variation of one of the above myths that gets in your way? Post it here so I can add it to my list!

BALANCE

BALANCE
Balancing work and play, demands and desires is important for a well-rounded and full life. Often, we get caught up in all of the responsibilities and pressures in our life and do not make time for the activities that make us who we are. If we make time for only demands and work, I can guarantee you that you will be left with just that: demands and work. Anxiety and stress. Maybe even depression. 
On the other hand, if all we make time for is play, we are left feelingdirectionless and out of control. 
So how do we find balance? 

I challenge you to complete this exercise, one of my favorites to do with clients: 

Take a piece of paper and divide it into two columns: Column 1 is labeled 'Want Tos' (the things you do because you truly want to do them, because you find them enjoyable--not because they have an end product or a goal to shoot for). Column 2 is labeled 'Shoulds' (the thing you do because you feel pressured to or because you are explicitly demanded to by work or family). You might have some overlap in the columns-that's ok!

In each column, try to think of about ten activities that correspond. When finished with both columns, take a moment and think about times when you are overwhelmed and stressed out to the max. What activity, of all the ones you wrote down, in either column, do you tend to throw out the window first? Which activity gets put on the back burner? Is it a 'Want To' or a 'Should?' Now, keep going, and keep crossing out one activity after the next, by asking yourself 'When overwhelmed, which activity do I throw out the window next?' 
Do you start to see a pattern? Is one column crossed out more than the other? If so, this means you may not have balance in your life and you may tend towards one side or the other when overwhelmed. This is just something to be aware of. If your 'Want To' column gets pushed aside when you are overwhelmed, you might find yourself depressed, anxious and overall unhappy. This is because you have no fun and no self care in your life. If your 'Should' column gets pushed aside when you are overwhelmed, you might find yourself avoiding important tasks and responsibilities and becoming even more overwhelmed over time. 

See if you can challenge yourself to find more of a balance between the two for a fuller, richer and happier life!

 

 

How to Survive Holiday Stress

HOW TO SURVIVE HOLIDAY STRESS: 
As the holidays approach, stress, depression, anxiety, and struggles with time management can increase. With holiday parties, finding the right gifts to buy friends and families, and travel plans, the holidays' approach leaves us little time and energy for taking care of ourselves. Here are some tips that clients have told me over the years have been helpful for staying mindful and remembering what the holidays are really about. 
1. BREATHE
Whether you are in a crowded department store trying to find the perfect gift for all of your family members, or at a stressful family get together, remembering to take deep breaths from your diaphragm can make a world of difference. Breathing helps you to pause, gets much-needed oxygen into your brain so you can think straight, and slows down your nervous system so your entire being feels safer and calmer. 
2. EAT
Many families have a tradition of doing one large meal in the middle of the day on holidays. If this is the case in your family, I recommend that you eat regularly throughout the entire day as you would normally, rather than skipping breakfast to "save up" for the mid day meal. Going into the meal overly hungry can cause you to overeat and also to be irritable and grumpy. 
3. DON'T OVERSCHEDULE YOURSELF
Between parties, meals, shopping and the responsibilities of everyday life, it is easy to over schedule yourself around and during the holidays. Know what your limit is and feel free to say "no" if needed or make some compromises. You don't have to do everything. 
4. ASK FOR HELP
Do not put so much pressure on yourself to do it all. If you are stumped on what to buy someone, ask them to please just tell you what they would like. Better yet, make it a tradition in your family or group that everyone posts a list of their gift requests to make it easier. Ask someone to help you do the shopping, or help you cook. Make the meals potluck style. You deserve time to relax and enjoy yourself just as much as everyone else. 
5. DO NOT EXPECT PERFECTION
In magazines, we see perfectly lit fireplaces, perfectly set tables, and smiling family members eating chef quality meals. THIS IS NOT REAL LIFE. Dishes will burn, families will fight, and someone will spill red wine on that pristine tablecloth. You are much better off if you set an intention to go with the flow and accept that perfection does not exist. After all, the holidays should be about time with loved ones and gratitude for the good in your life. Make a decision this year to keep it about what matters as much as possible.

 

 

One Thing Every Day

ONE THING EVERY DAY: 
Challenge yourself to do one self-care activity each day. It can be as small as taking a minute out of your day to mindfully pet your dog, or as big as taking an hour-long bath or getting coffee with a friend. It can be as small as sending someone a funny text or Bitmoji, or as big as taking your favorite yoga or spin class.

My personal favorites: 
Lately my husband and I start a game of Words with Friends against each other whenever he leaves town for work. It helps us stay connected throughout the day, and I'm reminded of him whenever he plays a word. It's also a healthy form of competition! Taking a few minutes to play a word and think about something not work or stress-related is self care in my book. 
My other daily favorite is my mindful cup of coffee. My first cup of coffee each day I try to drink mindfully and really savor the warmth and the taste. It's usually my favorite moment of the day!

I'd love to hear what others do for daily self care. Feel free to post here and help me build my list!

VALUES
In my practice, I am constantly using a client's values to guide our sessions and goals. In this post, I hope to clarify what 'Values' mean and why they are so important. 
Values are simply what you want your life to be about and what really matters to you. This might sound morbid, but values are what you want to say you really stuck by when you are at the end of your life looking back. 
Values are like a compass--they lead us in the general direction we want our lives to go in, and although we might not always be pointing exactly in that direction, we can always adjust and turn back towards what matters. 
Some examples of values: Genuineness, tradition, family, health, self acceptance, compassion. Some of my personal values are: Family, Tradition, Genuineness, Health, and Giving Back. Some of my professional values are: Integrity, Collaboration, Curiosity. 

VALUES EXERCISE: If you are curious about what your values are, I recommend printing out this Values Card Sort exercise (below) and just noticing what comes up as you read each card. You can even sort the cards into Most Important, Important, and Not Important categories. Warning: This exercise is more difficult than you think!
There is only ONE RULE: No judging yourself! You might notice that some of the things that really matter to you are not things you're living consistently in line with. THAT'S OK! You are human and none of us are constantly in line with our values. The most important thing is that you make an adjustment in even the tiniest way to get closer to what matters, one small step at a time. 
http://www.motivationalinterviewing.org/…/valuescardsort_0.…

I did this exercise with my husband when we were engaged. We got on the floor of our apartment and each did our own card sort, then compared the two. It was fascinating to see where our values lined up and where they differed. I recommend doing this exercise on your own first, then perhaps with a friend, a family member, or partner. It can be helpful for a deeper understanding of what matters to you and to those you care about. 

Happy Value-ing!!!

Boost Post

If you are a fan of Kendra Scott jewelry, head to your local Kendra Scott store for a Kendra Gives Back Party this Thursday, September 15 from 5-8PM. 
20% of your jewelry purchase will go to the Eating Recovery Foundation, a cause near and dear to my heart. 
The Eating Recovery Foundation is a national resource for individuals and families affected by eating disorders. It provides information, education and training on best practices for the identification and treatment of eating disorders.

If you are unable to join in person, call your order in at (469) 804-8538 during the hours of the party.

See participating locations and stores below in photo.

 

No Place for Hate

Join Rachel Glaser, LCSW at the Anti Defamation League's No Place for Hate © Youth Summit on November 15th, 2016. No Place for Hate © is a program that provides educators, school administrators and students resources to combat bullying, discrimination and bias in schools. The Youth Summit brings together Austin ISD Middle Schoolers for a day of discussions and activities that focus on being an ally for those who are being bullied or discriminated against, and sends the students back to their schools with additional tools and empowerment to stop being bystanders to hate and start being allies. 
The ADL needs volunteer facilitators to help lead these discussions. If you are interested feel free to email me and I'll pass along your information. I would love for you to join me on this important day!

For more information visit http://austin.adl.org/noplaceforhateyouthsummit/