Category Archives: Self-care

Are we forgetting about mothers?

I don’t pose that question lightly. It is a topic worthy of our thought, our discussion. It is a reality that demands to be paid attention to. 

We rush to the hospital to give birth to our precious babies who quickly become the center of our worlds. They are carefully looked over and checked up on with appointment after appointment. All the weight checks, the shots, the checking to make sure their hearts sound well, their joints are developing correctly, it goes on and on..and for good reason. These are our babies and they are small and tiny, and oh so new to this world. We should be paying attention to their health and their development but what about moms? 

Moms are sent home from the hospital after just going through a major life transformation with some guidelines, maybe a painkiller or two, and in many cases a few stitches. They aren’t followed up with. They are supposed to figure it out. It is their God-given ability to be a mother, so they should just know how to do it, right? Society expects that mom will seamlessly adjust. She will adjust to this new normal with little help. Yea, it won’t be easy but she will get through. The only follow-up she has to look forward to is six-to-eight weeks postpartum when in many cases her incisions are looked over and she is sent on her way. 

There is no depression screening, no required well check, no one helping mom adjust. Mothers need to be ok too. After all, happy mothers raise happy children. It is hard to care for anyone if you don’t first care for yourself. Let’s check in with our mothers. Ask if they are ok. Make sure they are ok. Let’s listen to our mothers, hear their cries for help and honor their need for support even when they themselves might not realize how much they need it. It takes a village to raise a child, that is for sure. We can’t expect a mother just because she has a uterus to suddenly be thrown into a whole new world like nothing ever happened. It is a shock to the system. She deserves support and she needs it. 

Why are more women being diagnosed with ADHD?

Over the years I have seen an increase in women coming to me with symptoms of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. Many of them are concerned they may have ADHD and are looking for a solution. It got me thinking. Why are we seeing such an increase? What has changed to cause more women to experience symptoms of ADHD? 

Our reality as women has changed. We are busier than ever before while still facing the pressures of traditional gender roles. We are still expected to take care of our homes and meals. Many women now have taken on professional careers outside of the home environment adding to the mounting pressure. We are worried more than ever—about everything. Not to mention we are constantly in a state of comparing ourselves to others with the rise of social media and smart devices. Those women who choose to stay home struggle with feeling stir crazy and unfulfilled. We are easily distracted. 

All of the stress modern-day women are struggling with is causing them to lose sleep. They are staying up to later hours trying to get everything done. They are feeling the pressure to be the Pinterest mom or the perfect housewife/cook but also the career woman. Research shows that lack of sleep could be exactly what is contributing to symptoms of ADHD. 

The disruption of day and night rhythms, staying up later, eating at different times, variations in body temperature and physical movement, all of it can contribute to inattentiveness and challenging behavior, according to research done at the Vrije Universitiet Medical Centre in Amsterdam. This research also showed that people with ADHD had a rise in the hormone melatonin an hour-and-a-half later in the day than those who did not, contributing to that lack of sleep. All of this pointing to the reality that ADHD might actually be a sleep disorder. 

Similar studies have also found that those with ADHD had higher rates of daytime sleepiness than those without, making it harder to focus. Other symptoms such as restless legs syndrome and periodic leg movement are also common in those suffering from ADHD, according to the National Sleep Foundation. 

The bottom line is we are overwhelmed, overworked, and exhausted. We aren’t sleeping as much and therefore we are finding it difficult to focus. If you are someone who is struggling with symptoms of ADHD, it may be helpful to seek out a licensed professional who is trained in helping adults.

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/09/22/could-adhd-be-a-type-of-sleep-disorder-that-would-fundamentally-change-how-we-treat-it/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.40c10b6da7af

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/adhd-and-sleep

What does empowerment mean?

Have you ever thought about the real meaning of empowerment? What does it really truly mean to be empowered? The dictionary says it is the “authority or power given to someone to do something,” or “the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.” 

Empowerment is simple

Empowerment is simple. It comes down to one thing—choices. Having the freedom to choose something. It is having options in life. You can choose to go down this path, or this other. You can choose to go back to school or to take the job. You can choose to marry this man or wait it out. You can choose to stay true to you, or to follow others. You can choose to lift other up, or to bring them down. You have choices. You have the CHOICE to choose your path. You are in charge of you. You don’t have to do what others have “planned” for you. You can go your own way. You can follow your heart. You can feel empowered. 

You can learn to advocate for yourself, to reach inside your soul and find your inner strength. It is there, you just have to find it and let it show its face. You can empower others by lifting them up instead of putting them down. Put downs do nothing. They cause harm and achieve absolutely nada. Wouldn’t you rather give people compliments, encourage them when they are down, and point out the good instead of the bad so that they too can be empowered to go after their dreams.

It is like the quote my yoga teacher told me the other day— “You can stay in bed and keep dreaming your dreams, or you can get up and go after those dreams.” There is no better time than now to start being each others cheering squad, including your own. 

Making the choice to be a single mom

Being a single mom is incredibly hard. It is doing it all, being everything for your children, and it is taxing on yourself. The reality is nobody actually decides “yes I want to be a single mom,” “yes, I want to do this by myself.” It is not a choice. It is something that comes as a result of another decision—whether it be getting divorced from your spouse, deciding not to marry the child’s father because of your relationship with him, or feeling like you have no other way to have children except to do it on your own. It is the absence of a partner but it is not a direct choice. 

I was raised by my single mom. She had choices to not be a single mom. She could have chosen to stay in an unhappy relationship so that she didn’t have to care for me by herself. Instead I would hear her cry in the middle of the night because this gig is hard. But it was something she needed to do for us, for herself. 

Of course she would have preferred to have someone to help split the parenting duties. Or course she wanted to give us a stable home. But she also wanted to show us that she wasn’t willing to give up on her ideals. That she was strong. That she wasn’t going to compromise her happiness to stay in an unhappy relationship. She was showing us to stand up for yourself and to follow your heart, as hard as it can be sometimes. She did make choices. Very difficult ones. But it was never about a desire to parent by herself. 

When he wants to be alone

My friend’s boyfriend enjoys playing tennis, and so does my friend. They have a lot of fun playing together but sometimes he just wants to go to the courts to hit the ball off the wall. It is therapeutic for him and helps him to relieve the stress of the day. The other day my friend told me she was concerned that he didn’t love her because he didn’t always want her to come along to play. 

This is a common question I hear so I told her what I frequently tell others — just because he wants to be alone does not mean he doesn’t love or care for you. Sometimes we just need that time to decompress and be in our own heads. We all have different ways of relieving stress. For her boyfriend it was hitting a ball off a wall, for her, it is reading a book and taking a bath. We all need time alone. Some of us need more time than others and it can all depend on how much stress we have in our lives at the time. While I understand how she could worry he doesn’t want to spend time with her, it is just his way of taking care of himself so that he can come home and be more fully present with her. 

It is healthy for us to set boundaries when we need that time, and it is not meant to hurt her. Chances are his time alone at the courts has little to do with her at all and it is all because he needs to work through the problems of the day. He needs to have a little room to breathe and process. It is healthy. I urged her to talk to him when he got home, ask him about his day and spend time together in other ways. Just because you are in a relationship with someone does not mean you have to spend every moment together. You each are still individual people who need to care for yourselves before you can care for the relationship. 

How do you spend your alone time?

Don’t Be Nice: Do This Instead

There is a difference between being nice and being genuinely kind. Being nice is on the surface. It is superficial, pleasing, and agreeable. It is making people happy around you but not necessarily meaning it. It is not authentic, not deep, and not always true. 

Being kind goes deeper

Rather than “being nice” as you have been told since you were a child, practice kindness. Being kind goes deeper. It is the practice of being compassionate and authentic. It is establishing healthy boundaries and truly meaning what you say, what you do. When we reach the point of just “being nice” we are damaging our relationships and creating unhealthy situations for ourselves. Running errands for a neighbor “just to be nice” or volunteering at an event “just to be nice” establishes unhealthy boundaries. 

When we, instead, do things out of deep-seeded kindness from within, it means we genuinely care about what we are doing. We have a vested interest in how things turn out and the people around us can see that. It means we aren’t just doing things because we feel like we have to, we are doing them because we really truly want to do them. We really want to bring the neighbor dinner, we really want to help with the shopping for the school event, we want to help a friend out with a project, or hold the door open for a stranger. 

Avoid teaching your children to “just be nice.” Instead, explain to them what it means to be kind and to establish healthy boundaries with that kindness. Teach them how it feels to truly be helpful and to want to do good things for others. In turn, you are teaching them to be genuine, to be truthful and to take care of themselves. You are not teaching them to overextend themselves for the mere purpose of “being nice.” You are teaching them to dig deep inside themselves and determine what they can do to be good people, not superficial or fake. 

It might feel like a thin line but chances are you can think of a few times in your life you have just been nice and differentiate between the times you truly meant what you were doing—those times you were being kind. 

How do you practice kindness?

Don’t push others aside to win

There is a saying in Chinese that you only have two hands and if you use them to throw two knives, that will be no match for the hundreds of knives coming your way. The bottom line is don’t push others aside to be a winner. Don’t use both your hands to throw knives, instead take one—or both—of those hands and use it to hold the hand of another or to help a fallen comrade. Life is not a zero-sum game, no winner takes all.

There is a psychological impact of pushing others away to “win.” We think everyone is the enemy and everyone, in turn, looks at us as an enemy. It is a lonely existence. It isolates us and makes us bitter about life and the people that surround us. We can be successful without pushing others away, and we can enjoy that success with the people around us. We don’t have to enjoy it alone. 

In fact, some of the most successful people have gotten to where they are today because of the teams they have been part of, the family who have supported them and cheered them on, and the colleagues who have shared knowledge, ideas, and wisdom. 

Your ‘personal pit crew’

CEO advisor and author Mindy Mackenzie says everyone needs a “personal pit crew.” She cites that while many people think they can get to the top all on their own, almost everyone has a few “trusted advisors.” Not only can bouncing ideas off a friend help you to gain insight into what you might be missing, or what route you should be taking, but pushing others aside is going to hurt relationships.

An article by Huffington Post blogger Anat Shenker-Osorio says it well: “Humans are a social species. We are pack animals; we like to be together lots of the time. Some of our greatest joys and oldest cultural practices involve sharing: our homes with a stranger, bread and wine with friends, material goods with our families.”

The real winners in this game of life are the people who recognize they can’t do everything on their own. We need people in our court to lift us up, cheer us on, and be there when we fail. Because even the most successful people have failed at some point, just look at example three in our post on trusting yourself (LINK TO: https://womenstherapyinstitute.com/how-to-trust-in-yourself/)

Who is in your “personal pit crew?”

For More on:

The Personal Pit Crew visit Inc Magazine: https://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/why-the-most-successful-people-.html

Huffington Post article visit: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/anat-shenkerosorio/handy-shortcuts-for-econo_b_491875.html

Take the scenic route

I had a friend who recently died of breast cancer. Before she passed, her words to us were: “take the scenic route.” It was a reminder that sometimes we squeeze too much in—rushing around, hurrying, trying to get everything done that we can in a short period of time while ignoring the quality of our lives. 

Enjoy life

When we spend so much time running from one activity to another, trying not to be late, we become stressed. In turn, our relationships with others can become unpleasant. We are shorter with those we love because we feel anxious, overbooked, and overwhelmed. The truth is we are trying to have a fulfilled life, and yes we should aim for that but we also need to enjoy it. 

Every time someone is near death and reflecting on their life they say the same things (i.e. the book When Breath Becomes Air) —why didn’t I spend more time with my kids? Why didn’t I take more vacations from work? Why didn’t I take things slower, embrace the time I had when I had so much of it? There has to be something to these words of advice — you are not going to regret missing that meeting at work, but you are going to miss watching your kids play in the backyard. You are going to miss those afternoons when nothing was planned and you decided to have a picnic in the park. You will miss the impromptu movie night, the long conversations with your parents, the teaching/learning moments with your children. You will miss hearing about their day. You will not miss that you didn’t take the afternoon to clean your home or rearrange your closet.

I try to remember this when I feel stressed and overwhelmed, when I hear my kids laughing in the backyard and look at the pile of dishes in my sink. I remind myself to choose that time with my kids. In the long run, it will make the biggest impact on mine and their lives. It will be a memory, a moment to cherish…those dishes can wait. 

My friend said to me: “Here I lie dying, looking back I should have shortened the to-do list and started a to-enjoy list.” 

What is on your to-enjoy list?

It is ok to walk away

I have a client who recently moved to the East Coast. She lives in a very loud, busy, and overstimulating area. As with anyone moving to a new place, she was going through a period of adjustment and forming new friendships, trying to find her place. 

In reaction to her fear of being lonely, she surrounded herself with people, any people. During a mindless event with one of these groups of people—who she didn’t really jive with—she opened her eyes, looked around, excused herself and walked away. She had a revelation of sorts—she didn’t need these people to fill in her blanks, to make her feel less alone. She realized she was sacrificing herself having to pretend she was something she wasn’t. She was sacrificing her authenticity, and at what cost? 

You don’t need to sacrifice yourself

It is ok to walk away. It is the genuine connections in our lives, the people we feel comfortable being ourselves with that add to our happiness, our wellbeing as people. Sacrificing who you are just to be surrounded with people will only leave you feeling more alone. Don’t be afraid to walk away and find those people that lift you up, that expand your horizons, without sacrificing who you are. You don’t need to be dependent on other people for your happiness. You are in control of your own happiness. You need to dig deep inside and surround yourself with the things you love. Embrace your hobbies, take time to do the things that make you feel alive inside. 

Find the people that share your values and will appreciate you for you. If you are a person who appreciates art, take an art class; if you like to exercise, join a gym or running group; if you like computers or video games, join a club; if you like to read, join a book club; if you like music, go to concerts. In time, you will find the people that see you and love you for who you really are. Don’t sacrifice yourself because you are afraid of the future, or afraid of how it feels to be by yourself. Love yourself, and do what you love. The rest will follow. 

How to forgive yourself

We all do things we are not proud of. We wish we could turn back time and change it all. Unfortunately, time travel has not yet been invented (I am still holding out for the future!). Instead, we are stuck with feelings of regret, sadness, and anger that do no one any good. Those feelings won’t fix anything. They just leave you feeling awful about yourself. You need to forgive. 

Forgiving yourself is not an easy thing. You see what you did wrong and it can be hard to look past those moments, those actions. It could be something small or it could be something huge, life-changing, but in order to go on and live a productive, happy, fulfilled life you have to forgive yourself. You have to let go of the past. You have to strive to do better in the future. 

You have to let go of the past

If you are having trouble forgiving yourself, and you are dwelling on the past, here are some tips to help you begin the process: 

1.) Identify the lesson learned — What did you learn from making that mistake? Every moment of regret is a moment to learn from, it is a moment to make positive changes in your life. 

2.) Realize the past is the past — It seems cut and dry, of course, the “past is the past” but it can be hard to come to terms with. Say to yourself you cannot change the past, it is over, what is done is done. Accept it. Look to the future, set positive goals for yourself, strive to not make the same mistake again. 

3.) Give yourself a re-do — So, we have determined you cannot physically go back and change the past but you can think about how you would have done it differently. Write down what you would do if you could go back, and then in the future, you will have that memory to fall back on. 

4.)Change your thinking — Identify your morals and values as they are now. Focus on those and replace your negative thoughts with ones that are in accordance with your current values. 

5.) Do something kind— You may not be able to fix what happened in the past, but you do have control of the now. Make an effort to do something kind for someone else. It will help to boost your self-esteem and show you that you are nowhere near as bad and horrible as you feel like you are. 

6.) Recognize you are doing your best — We all make mistakes. No one is perfect. Sometimes the mistakes we feel we made were the result of us doing the very best we thought we could at the moment. Sometimes there are emotions or actions that are affecting the way we react to situations. 

7.) Love yourself — Write down three positive things about yourself. Chances are you are feeling much worse about the person you are than you actually are. Everyone has good in them. Everyone has the ability to be a good person. Recognize the things you have done for others, and the things you are proud of and start loving yourself again. 

If you are still having trouble turning the page on the past, seek help from a licensed mental health professional. They can work with you to identify those positives and help you to dig deep inside and forgive. You deserve to be loved by you.