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Cultivating Resilience: Mental Flexibility

Cultivating Resilience: Mental Flexibility

This month, I’m continuing our exploration of how we can cultivate resilience in our lives! We’ve been taking a deep dive into specific skills we can master in order to approach difficulty with more resilience, and this month, we will be looking at the 5th of 6 skills- practicing mental flexibility. (more…)

Wishing Away Time

Wishing Away Time

I don’t know about you, but when I am looking forward to something down the road it’s mighty easy for me to wish away the time in between. Have you ever done that? Were you so looking forward to the weekend that you missed Tuesday through Thursday? Have you ever planned a trip a few weeks out and felt the weeks leading up to it were basically a blur? Have you so been wanting to be recovered that you miss out on learning at each session?

I think it is incredibly important to have activities, events, trips, nice evenings, etc. to look forward to, but I also think it is equally important to not wish the time in between away. The view at the top of the mountain is breath taking, and even more beautiful, and appreciated, after a long trek up!

Here are some ideas of how to embrace the “in between” time and be able to enjoy each day we get live!

1. The Glad Game

Growing up I loved watching the movie “Pollyanna.” I, and my mom, basically had the whole thing memorized. One of the things that I admired about Pollyanna was how she could always find the good in a situation, or in this case, “something glad.” Her father made up the “glad game” and even after he passed away Pollyanna continued playing. The goal of the game is to “find something about everything to be glad about.” As I have gotten older this has simply turned into thinking of things that I am grateful for each day. Let me tell you, some days are easier, and some days are harder. Maybe the only “glad” thing you can think of is that you didn’t trip going down the stairs, but hey, that’s something! It gets easier with practice and has become something that I love doing. We can find something “glad” in each day instead of constantly hoping the next time I wake up I am on the beach in Cancun.

2. Plan an Everyday “Treat”

Now, this can be a literal or metaphorical treat, and it’s best if you can mix it up often. For example, I love having a piece of chocolate in the afternoon and I find that to be a little treat of the day. I like going rollerblading out in the sun after work. I also love curling up with a blanket and book on my couch at night. Do you get my drift? Plan a little “treat” for yourself each day. And, I really do mean PLAN it. Write it in your planner or set a reminder on your phone, however you plan, make sure to include your treat of the day. This helps me embrace each day rather than want to zoom right over the more “mundane” days.

3. Check something off

I feel like my day really counts when I can knock off a few tasks on my list. Now, this does not need to be 1) write a book 2) solve world hunger and 3) wash, dry, fold, AND put away all laundry in the same day; this can be one or a few tasks that are not monumental, but little things that add to a bigger picture. Maybe you empty the overflowing dishwasher, reply to emails, write a thank you note, or meal prep, or a mix of a few. Whatever would be most helpful to you that day. Once I am able to check a few things off I feel productive and appreciate the day a little bit more.

I am by no means saying that you should not be excited for something in the future, I am saying that it is great to be excited about something while also enjoying the day to day. Find your glad moments of the day, enjoy a treat, and check off a thing or two!

Figuring Out What Matters

Figuring Out What Matters

On separate panels in our group room we have the words Pursue What Matters mounted to the wall. These words express the core aim for many therapists–to help clients live harmoniously with their values, to do what matters. It seems self-evident that it’s better to do what matters than to do what doesn’t matter. And yet many of us find ourselves spinning out, living days that feel dry of vitality and purpose. One of the first tasks I have as a therapist is to get clear on what matters to the client, which often consists of helping the client get clear on what matters to her or him. Even with a therapist’s guidance, clients struggle to identify what matters to them. This is for several reasons, not least of which is that what matters is a moving target. (more…)

Transformation Challenge

Transformation Challenge

Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m a fitness coach at Orange Theory Fitness and we just finished an 8-week long transformation challenge as a company.

If you know me, you know that my turmoil was pretty high when I heard we’d be doing it and that I was encouraged to 1) participate and 2) recommend it to members.

I’ve been working here at Balance Health & Healing since 2016. And since that time, my ideals have changed dramatically. I don’t weigh myself anymore, I don’t count calories, I try to eat and exercise intuitively. I really have found a peace with body acceptance and seeing it as an instrument to do all the things I love. So, the idea of a “transformation” challenge didn’t sit well.

First of all, I didn’t love the word transformation. That word feels like your body is something you need to transform. I didn’t want to stand behind something I didn’t believe in, but I also recognized it was my job. Kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. So, I spent a lot of time pondering. What is something positive that could come out of this? What can I portray as positive “transformation?”

After lots of thought and research, I came up with the following three things that I believe will improve quality of life. I encouraged all of the members participating to focus on:

Drink enough water.

One of the simplest, yet most important aspects of our health is hydration. (Which shouldn’t be incredibly surprising, seeing that the human body is made up of approximately 60% water).

  1. Being properly hydrated helps regulate body temperature. When our core body temperature rises above normal, unnecessary stress is placed on our bodies. Often, that interferes with the body’s energy system and negatively affects both performance and recovery.
  2. Water also helps regulate blood pressure. Effectively regulated blood pressure normalizes heart rate, which therefore keeps our bodies moving properly.
  3. Water also helps move and transport essential energy nutrients. All of our essential macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fats) that are used for energy are transported by fluid in the body. And as a bonus, water helps remove any metabolic waste that is produced during exercise.
  4. Not only does water keep our energy sources working, it improves brain function. Studies have shown that even just mild dehydration can impair your mood, energy levels and lead to major reductions in memory and brain performance.
  5. Water protects sensitive tissues, lubricates and cushions your joints and every cell, tissues and organ in your body needs water to work properly. I think I’ve made my point. Stay hydrated. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine have determined that adequate daily fluid intake is about 16 cups of water for men, and about 12 cups of water for women. I know that water intake is very individualized and will vary person to person, but my point was for myself and the members to stay hydrated.

Get enough sleep.

Ah. This is a hard one. Whenever a member would come talk to me about goals, one of the first things I always ask is, “Are you getting enough sleep?” Like water, sleep is vital for overall health and well-being. Although we know this, the reality is that very few of us actually make the seven-nine hours a night a priority. Our sleep needs vary over our lifespan, and everybody is different when it comes to how much sleep you personally need. However, the National Sleep Foundation recommends 18-64 year old’s anywhere from 7-9 hours of sleep per night. (You can get more information on how to find out how much sleep you need here)

I am someone who loves sleep. I do really well on 8 hours, but that is a hard commitment to hold! My husband loves to watch movies, and by the time we wrap up our jam-packed day, it’s late. Over the last 3 years, I’ve really tried to shift into more of a morning person (because studies show we are most productive in the morning). But if I am up at 6 am and need 8 hours of sleep, I need to be ASLEEP by 10! It’s a big commitment. However, in the 8-week challenge I did my best to average 8 hours a night, and boy, it makes such a difference!

Take the time to recover.

This goes hand-in-hand with sleep, but recovery is vital to a quality life. There are so many different definitions of recovery, but a few things I tried to focus on were:

  1. Take time to rest during your day. 20-minute cat naps do wonders!
  2. Foam roll. If you’ve ever done it before, you know foam rolling isn’t fun (read: OUCH), but it is a necessary evil to help prevent DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). It can also help prevent injuries, increase range of motion and improve performance.
  3. Stretching for 2-3 times a week
  4. Recover mentally & emotionally. When you get home from work, unplug. Play outside. Go on walks. Devote time to personal relationships and find other interests. I love to puzzle, but I can always find a million excuses as to why I shouldn’t start one. So these last few weeks, I’ve set one up and just worked on it a little bit at a time. It’s been so good for my creativity, my stress, and honestly my play. Recovering mentally and emotionally is usually on the bottom of our list, but it is just as important for a well-balanced life as all the other things I listed above.

Changing my mindset about the transformation challenge really did make it a cool experience for me. Focusing on small and simple, yet highly important aspects of health and wellness was a great reminder for myself to set goals. Sometimes I get a little lackadaisical about goal-setting, but it is an important piece of our life to improve and to grow. I have no idea if I lost or gained a single pound or body fat percentage or any muscle growth, because that wasn’t my focus. Drinking water, resting and recovering were my focus, and it was a really nice 8 weeks.



How Hydration Affects Performance – link

How Much Water Should You Drink Every Day? – link

How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? Sleep Foundation – link

Leadership Survival Skills Workshop – link


The Complexity of Growth and Progress

The Complexity of Growth and Progress

One of my favorite things about stories is their ability to chart personal growth (or decay) in a tight and rational narrative. The acclaimed series Breaking Bad tells the story of a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher (Walter White) gradually becoming a vicious methamphetamine kingpin. It less famously tells the story of Walter’s brother-in-law, arrogant and racist DEA agent Hank Schrader, becoming a humble and stalwart pursuer of justice. Their arcs are horrifying and inspiring. And they can point to truths about the human condition and the nature of personal change. (more…)

Cultivating Resilience: Self-Care

Cultivating Resilience: Self-Care

As we continue to explore how to develop skills that cultivate a resilient spirit, we turn our attention this month to a popular buzzword you may even be a little weary of- self-care! 

(Just joining us or looking to review previous “Cultivating Resilience” posts? See here, here, here!).

Self-care is a concept that we hear lots about in terms of our mental wellbeing, but how many of us can really cite what effective self-care is, or why it matters in terms of our resilience? It may seem like a trendy reason to “treat yo self”, but where do you draw the line between self-centered behaviors and meaningful work that really sustains and rebuilds you?

Self-Care: Practicing Wellness

Self-care is the act of focusing our thoughts and behaviors onto things that contribute to our own wellbeing. It’s tending to the basic building blocks of mental health. Self-care can be found in a range of different areas of our life- social, physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and so on.  For example, at times we may find ourselves in need of some social self-care- checking in with friends or family, serving others, or attending a meaningful event in spite of your never ending to-do list. Other times, we may need to turn our attention to physical self-care- making effort and time to reboot and get serious about sleep, focusing on adequate hydration and nutrition, or investing time in discovering movement your body enjoys. How can you imagine yourself addressing self-care needs in areas of emotional, spiritual, or intellectual wellbeing? As you can see, self-care can take many forms and look different depending on the individual and the season of life you find yourself in.

Don’t know where to start?

I would recommend downloading a mindfulness app like Calm or Headspace, or making a goal to practice mindfulness through activities like journaling, yoga, or other spiritual practices like prayer. Mindfulness practice is something that doesn’t have to be involved or picture perfect, and the benefits are plentiful! Mindfulness has been shown to help slow down our reactions and build feelings of peace and habits of rest into our life.

Myths of Self-Care

Now that we’ve talked about what self-care is, let’s talk about a few things that self-care is not! Self-care is not selfish. It’s not frivolous. It’s not something that has to be expensive or time consuming. Self-care is also not a one-and-done kind of thing! The goal with self-care is to build it into your routine so that you are regularly filling your bucket.

Self-Care and Resilience

The tie between self-care and resilience is that through the regular and effective practice of caring for yourself, you are giving yourself resources to manage stress. We all probably can think of friends or loved ones who deal with stress by numbing out or turning to maladaptive coping (drugs and other risky behaviors). You may even recognize those tendencies in yourself! However, when we are regularly practicing self-care, we go into stress better equipped to handle what comes our way. When we practice effective self-care, we reserve within ourselves personal wellsprings of resilience!

Give Yourself Permission

While you consider your own approach to self-care, remember the fundamental truth that you are worthy of care. Give yourself permission to explore areas of self-care and experiment with what fills you up and leaves you renewed. You are worth the effort to take care of!