Monthly Archives: July 2015

Back To Life, Back To Reality!

DSCF2441 I was having a difficult time deciding what I should post following my summer vacation. I contemplated writing about the challenges faced while moving beyond my comfort zone to talk to strangers on the beach. I also considered writing about how to let go of life’s daily worries while you’re  hundreds of miles away from home.

Several concerns were brought to my attention as I tried to sum up the experience.

We were in Negril, Jamaica and it was wonderful. I was struck by the quiet and calm beauty of the island of Jamaica, but at the same time, I couldn’t help but notice the heartbreaking poverty of its people vs. the abundance at the resorts. Unable to pick a topic, I decided to hold onto my vacation memories until I was ready to share them.

What I am struggling with now, is how to return to reality.

I guess we all have difficulty with this, we joke that we need a vacation after our vacation!My problem is that I don’t feel as though I have reengaged with my surroundings. I haven’t felt fully present since our return, and it’s been over 2 weeks now! The crushing weight of all I have to do is overwhelming. Rewriting my syllabus for the college, introducing and writing curriculum for a brand new course, preparing to expand my art therapy practice, my daughter moving to NYC to begin graduate school, and the list goes on and on. DSCF2502So how do we re-engage after a break? I’m not just referring to vacations, because many people struggle with re-entry into the real world following maternity leave or following a medical leave. How can we re-enter following a layoff, or even a long weekend? I don’t have all the answers, but I can share some of the things that have helped me get back into the swing of things.

  1. Lists! I love making lists and I have notebooks full of them. I carry around a thin notebook and write notes and lists daily. I keep a list in my car as well.
  2. Set Small Attainable Goals. I wrote a list a few years ago and on it I had written “Write a Book!” That’s a great idea and something I hope to accomplish one day, but I realized that it was an unrealistic goal for my life right now? Put your ideas in order of importance/priority. It may seem silly, but it really helps. Scratch out any lofty goals if you know you don’t have time for them right now.
  3.  Unpack Bags. Clutter can be exhausting, even if you’re just looking at it! Don’t leave a suitcase full of dirty clothes laying around. I know it sounds daunting, but take care of it now, or you’ll wake up and discover you’re out of clean underwear!
  4. Sleep Well. I know, it’s easier said than done! But this is HUGE and we forget how important it is for the body and mind to POWER DOWN. More on the importance of sleep in a later blog post.
  5. Be Aware Of What’s Depleting Your Energy. Re-entry can be an extremely anxiety-prone time. Worrying depletes energy and you need all the energy you can muster to get back to work and life. If you loaded up on carbs and unhealthy foods during your time away, stock your fridge with fruits and veggies. Throw some fruit and yogurt in a blender and make yourself a calcium rich fruit smoothie!
  6. Gratitude! Give thanks for all that you have in your life. Realize what a gift it was to have the opportunity to take a vacation!
  7. Talk To A Friend Or Therapist. Therapy isn’t just for serious problems. Sometimes a few sessions can help to reorganize and reenergize your thoughts, and bring clarity when needed.

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It is often the little things that help us the most. I think I am finally close to achieving re-entry following my vacation. It is a difficult process, but to prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed, start small and simple. Unpack, throw a couple of loads in the washer, make a list of small attainable chores – even something as small as returning a phone call – these small steps have made a big difference for me and I hope they do for you, too.

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Doodle For Your Noodle!

Ten Reasons Doodling is Good for You

 Doodling 3

1.   Exploration.  The same region of our brain that lights up while we innovate and improvise, also activates while we doodle. Doodling is another way to express our creativity.

2.   Concentration.  Doodling improves our ability to focus and concentrate. Students who doodle in their notebooks often retain more information, because they are utilizing both hemispheres of their brains.

3.   MemoryDoodlers retain more information. This should be encouraged from childhood to adulthood, because it creates a higher memory capacity.

4.   Problem Solving.  Doodling is associative and not linear. It allows you to visualize a problem and create solutions based on a wider perspective, rather than on a narrow train of thought.

5.   Mental Time Out.  Putting pen to paper in a random way limits the focus and allows more space in the brain. This aspect of doodling relaxes the mind and creates a mental time-out – which is refreshing in a world of hyper stimulation.

Doodling

6.   Seeing the Big PictureDoodlers tend to be more skilled at seeing the big picture. This seems to be true for a corporate strategist as well as a parent planning dinner.

7.   Multi-taskingThe ability to multi-task is enhanced by stimulating multiple regions of the brain at the same time. It rewires the brain and creates new pathways that are trained to operate simultaneously.

8.   Thinking Outside the BoxDoodling naturally helps us break out of our habitual thought patterns. It enables our ability to recognize and react to subtle nuances in life.

9.   ImaginationA person who doodles is not limited by what they have seen before. The doodle may start out recognizable, but will become unbounded, as it evolves on the page.

10.   Doodling is Fun!  Doodlers doodle because it is fun and satisfying. Random lines and patterns that emerge from a central source have a natural beauty. Doodling can produce a moment of happiness and pleasure.

What are you waiting for? Start doodling, today!

Doodling 2

Click on the blue links below to learn more about my Art Therapy Practice and Etsy Healing Art products:

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How To Recognize Depression

Let’s Talk About Depression

How do you know if you are feeling depressed?

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Let’s look at some common signs:

– Are you having difficulty sleeping at night?
– Have you lost interest in things you normally enjoy?
– Has your appetite changed?
– Do you feel less energetic?
– Are you feeling more negative or feeling sad all the time?
– Do you feel hopeless, helpless, or worthless?

How do you know whether those are just normal reactions to life  or something more serious?

The most important question to ask yourself is, “Am I having a bad day, or am I having a bad life?” If you can recognize that you are just in a slump and need to change your perspective or change your routine, then you realize that you have just hit a “bump in the road” like so many people often do.

It is crucial for us to understand that feeling depressed is not uncommon. You have no reason to feel ashamed.

Once you have recognized the signs and symptoms of depression, the next step is to take action. Managing our emotions is crucial.

If it is mild depression, try these simple changes to your routine:

  • Write in a journal.
    • Think of it as documenting your life.
    • Make a gratitude list to stay focused on the positive things in your life.
    • Do this for a month every morning or every evening
  • Try engaging with one person in a small way.
    • Talk to the mail person or a neighbor walking their dog.
    • Start with a simple, “Hello, how are you?”
    • Smile at a stranger or compliment their outfit.

Sometimes brightening someone else’s day can brighten your own day!

  • Think of something small that you can do for someone else.
    • Bring in your neighbor’s newspaper or mail.
    • Pick up trash in your neighborhood.
    • Help someone load or unload groceries from their car.
  • Coloring books.  You may have noticed that coloring books are becoming increasingly popular with adults. There are a variety of books available from complex patterns to whimsical designs.
    • Pack one in your summer tote, along with a few colored markers or pencils.
    • Use it to pass the time while you sit by the pool or spend a weekend on the beach.
    • Color at the end of the day to unwind and de-stress. (Don’t stress about staying within the line.
  • Take a walk every day.
    • Look around your neighborhood.
    • Try to find a new area to explore.
    • Say hello to every person you pass.
    • Give yourself a reward at the end!

If you have tried all of these simple suggestions, and you’re still feeling low, it may be time to call a therapist. A therapist can assess your situation and provide solutions that address your specific needs.

As a therapist, I want  my clients to feel connected, and I want them to walk through life with light in their heart.

The goal I set for my clients is to help them feel “Joyfully Engaged in the World.”

This is my favorite phrase, and I work with them until they can achieve this feeling.

It may sound as if I’m oversimplifying the issue, and you may be thinking, ‘She doesn’t know my situation. It’s impossible for me to feel light in my life, especially with these heavy issues weighing me down.’

Or, you might be like so many other people who try to hide their sorrow.

Many people find it difficult to reach out for help.  A depressed person may think they are “handling it” but everyone around them can see the pain that they are desperately trying to hide. Others notice the flashes of anger, constant sighing, withdrawal, lack of optimism, complaining, vulnerability to illnesses and a general joylessness.

I can assure you that I have heard several stories by people who think they will never overcome their sorrow and pain. Yet, I have witnessed these same people find moments of joy, and have watched them discovered how to reconnect with people in their lives.

If you are feeling depressed, I hope you understand that you matter and that you are important. Invest some time in yourself, because you deserve to feel joyfully engaged in the world!

Click on the blue links below to learn more about my Art Therapy Practice and Etsy Healing Art products:

Please visit my website

Pick up a coloring book from my Etsy Shop

Contact me: email

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