DBT, Inspiration, mental health

The Right Kind of Fun

Are you having any fun? Are you having the right kind of fun?

In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), we talk about “accumulating positives” as a skill to reduce vulnerabilities. What the heck does that even mean?? A vulnerability is something that happens in life that makes you more susceptible to falling into emotion mind (being overly emotional/impulsive). This factors are often things from that day: poor sleep, hunger, physical pain, argument with someone, traffic, etc. but they can involve historical events/traumas/memories. I think of these as the “straws” that build up and ultimately “break the camels back”.

Accumulating positives can help you to build up a coat of armor against the vulnerabilities that will inevitably happen throughout our days and weeks. Have you even noticed how much more emotional you are when you are physically ill or in pain? The same irritability starts to creep up when we go longer periods of time without socializing, engaging in hobbies and/or having fun!

Accumulating positives is split into two portions: short-term and long-term. Below we will look ast each idea!

Short-term:

First you must evaluate what things you enjoy in life! What is clearly fun to one person in life does equate to fun for another. You can find a list of pleasant/fun events here which could be a useful guide. For short-term accumulating positives, it’s important that the choices are realistic (climate, time of year, your financial situation, etc) and could be available without much delay. It is also very important that you throw yourself into actually enjoying the activity! We are very good at worrying… about whether we deserve it, what else we should be doing with our time, whether we can afford it, if we look silly and are being judged, etc. In order to reap the benefits, we need to give our brains a break and really allow ourselves to mindfully enjoy the experience!

A few of my personal favorite ways to accumulate positives are:

  • hiking
  • reading
  • laying in the hammock
  • taking a bath
  • creating art
  • writing

If we don’t make time (yes, schedule it), it’s unlikely to happen, which results in our moods dipping slowly and steadily over time. Depression and irritability will slowly creep up on you and before you know it, you’re not a very fun person to be around!

Long-Term

Accumulating long-term positives takes a little more effort to plan. First and foremost, you need to identify some of your core values! Luckily, values lists are fairly easy to find online…you can check out this one, this one or this one! It can be tempting to choose 20-30 values because they all sound so good; however, I encourage you to pick no more than five core values. My family has chosen our five core values and we posted them up in our dining room, when making major (and minor) choices, I try to be sure the decision aligns with one of our values.

After you identify your core values, DBT has a great format for walking you through the steps of breaking ONE identified value down into goals, steps and baby steps! After all, we don’t get anywhere overnight!

  • Step One: Pick one of the values to work on first (this does not mean the others are not important)
  • Step Two: Identify some goals associated with the value
  • Step Three: Pick one of the goals (this does not mean the others are not important)
  • Step Four: Identify some steps needed to work toward that goal
  • Step Five: Pick one step to work on now (this does not mean the others are not important)
  • Step Six: Identify any baby steps that might be needed to work toward that first step
  • Step Seven: Pick ONE action to take THIS WEEK!

When you start taking steps toward larger goals that are aligned with your own values, it’s called values-based living and it is a huge leap away from depression, low self-worth and lack of identity. Values-based living will also help you feel insulated and protected from negative events because your confidence, self-worth and self-esteem will be intact!

Uncategorized

Keep Going

You are doing a great job, keep going.

You are here for yourself, keep going.

You have your eyes on your future goals, keep going!

You survived one year of a pandemic, keep going.

You can do so much more than you realize, keep going.

Did you know that you are strong, capable and worthy of your own love and affection? I know that you are. For a lot of my life, I didn’t know that I was worth my own time, my own love or my own affection. It took a long time for me to realize that my worth is MY worth. Whenever I struggle to remember this message, I find empowerment with this song by Demi Lovato!

mental health

Coping as a Sensory-Overstimulated Parent

Are you overwhelmed when there are several things competing for you attention?

  • the television in another room
  • tablet sounds
  • neighbor doing yard work
  • your fingers tapping on the keyboard
  • chewing sounds
  • the microwave is running
  • the washing machine just buzzed
  • kids squabbling
  • the dog is whining
  • the mail truck driving by
  • the list really does go on and on and on…

Do you find yourself getting irritable and snapping during these times? Are you wondering why it seems easier for other parents to cope with the chaos of having a household of child(ren) noises?

Furthermore are your other senses also easily overwhelmed?

  • you don’t love kids clinging to you
  • you are bothered by ill fitting or unexpected clothing sensations
  • you don’t like sticky things
  • you find certain types of food textures to be creepy
  • strong smells are nauseating
  • you are visually overwhelmed by clutter
  • When your child is asking repetitive questions
  • Wild play (flailing limbs, jumping or running)

If you are answering yes to many of those questions, you may be a highly sensitive person to sensory experiences. This does not mean that you have a sensory processing disorder; this isn’t meant for self-diagnosis. If you feel that you have intense reactions to the above stimuli, you may want to speak to an occupational therapist or your primary care provider. Being sensory sensitive, means that you are more sensitive than the average person to sensory stimuli. Specifically, it is known as sensory defensiveness. Sensory defensiveness is defined as having an anxious reaction to non-noxious sensory stimuli. In other words, a person is sensory defensive if he/she has a negative reaction to sensory input that is typically considered either positive or at least neutral.

Symptoms of being sensory overwhelmed

  • Loosing temper
  • You get “touched out”
  • You need alone time
  • You feel as if you’re going to “explode” from pressure
  • You feel like you need to “hide” from your kids

If you are finding that your reactions are met with statements like “why does that bother you”, “that really shouldn’t bother you”, or “I barely even notice it, how is it such a big deal to you“, then you might be experiencing sensory defensiveness. The good news is that there is hope! Here are some suggestions that might help you:

  1. Desensitization – work on relaxation techniques while exposing yourself to some of the upsetting stimuli as referenced above. This could include playing with sensory fidgets if tactile issues are primary, walking barefoot outdoors, letting your hands be dirty for a few minutes before washing them, using relaxation breathing while noticing multiple sounds.
  2. Coping – wear noise dampening earbuds to block out some of the less intense noises. (I personally like Loop noise dampening earbuds). It’s especially helpful to use them in the later hours of the day as whining increases and your nerves are more frayed. With noise dampening earbuds you will be able to hear them if they need you while still having your bubble.
  3. Speak up! You can teach your children about your boundaries and what sorts of things you would prefer them to do in other rooms. You can teach them to turn the volume down or turn off noise producing devices when they are finished so there are not several going at once. You can inform your family and friends not to purchase noisy toys for you kids as well! You can also speak to your family members/spouse about your needs and asking them to understand if you need a break (including a break from them).
  4. Prioritize your down/alone time. Be sure that someone relieves you and you go for a walk to clear your mind, you can lock the doors during a shower, you can enforce quiet time for all members of your home to be in their rooms once or twice per day (be consistent about this as it will take time for everyone to adjust).
  5. Figure out your triggers. Instead of trying to tell yourself to “suck it up” or that you must be “crazy”, be kinder with your self talk and remember that you aren’t the only person who experiences sensory overwhelm! Honor your needs enough to figure out your triggers and work to solve them.
  6. Get outside (yes, even with the kids) and mindfully turn your attention toward any nature you can see (a rock, a blade of grass, the sky, a bird, etc).
  7. Decrease the caffeine, seriously, it only adds to the anxiety.
  8. Consult with professionals: occupational therapy, speech therapy, mindfulness based therapies and cognitive behavioral therapy can all be useful tools for sensory issues. If the symptoms are interfering greatly with your quality of life, you may want to investigate the help of a pro!

Uncategorized

Toxic Positivity

What is toxic positivity? Have you been hearing this phrase lately? I sure have and I think it’s crucial that you understand what it means.

Toxic positivity is the concept that being overly positive, optimistic and encouraging can actually be hurtful! When life is difficult and the Susie Sunshine in your life comes at you with the cliche’s “there is always a silver lining” or “Chin up, buttercup! Tomorrow’s a new day” you might notice an urge to punch her square in the jaw…but why is that? Furthermore, you were taught in childhood that Susie is right and that if you could only swallow your feelings and put a smile on your face, that it would all be ok!

–WRONG–

What is happening in this scenario is that Susie strolled on by and your distress made her uncomfortable. She, doing what she was taught in childhood, tries to “fix” the situation by insisting you feel better. This is INVALIDATING (which means that she is giving you the message that your interpretation and emotions are wrong). When you did what you were taught and thought “she’s right, I should suck it up…other people have it worse”, you invalidated yourself which compounds the situation.

I have no problem, and in fact I do encourage people at times to use self-encouragement and positive self talk to overcome difficulties. Is that hypocritical? No! And here’s why: It all comes down to intention, mindfulness and comfort with pain.

  1. What is the intention of the positive statement? Is it to shut down your (or someone else’s) emotions? That would be toxic positivity. Is it to try and jazz yourself up to overcome or battle a situation that you (or they)’re feeling nervous about? That would be self-encouragement!
  2. Are you making the choice to speak mindfully or mindlessly? If the words just fly out of your mouth without stopping to check in with yourself on the purpose, it is likely going to be an invalidating statement. If you stop and think “What would I want to hear in this situation? Do my feelings (or their feelings) makes sense?” it’s likely going to be a more effective comment.
  3. Pain is a normal part of life. Pain will happen (emotional and physical). We need to get comfortable being around ourselves and others when they are in pain! It’s on to sit with someone (or yourself) in a painful situation and just be in it. It’s actually helpful to call out what you see “This situation is difficult” or “that was a painful experience” without trying to swoop in and be the fixer!

So what to do instead of offering toxic positivity? Here’s your equation: offer validation and zip it. That’s all! Validation means that you communicate to them (or to yourself) that the feelings make sense. You can always ask the person if they would like help problem solving the scenario …but you need to be open to them saying no.

Inspiration

I QUIT!

Good morning! I have been very busy during the last two weeks as I have made the decision to QUIT MY JOB and grow my own brand/business! This is a very exciting time and the mountain of tasks is large (but what I fun mountain to climb)! Your Mental Restoration is a brand that is here to help you (shh…it also helps me, but don’t tell anyone)! You are my accountability buddy and I am yours!

You are in the correct place to follow the journey. This is all incredibly exciting and I am so grateful that you are here for the journey! Here’s where YMR is at present:

  • I have published my first book and am writing the second (spoiler alert – it’s a book for moms about overcoming the chaos and creating their own identity).
  • I am launching my own private practice to see clients via teletherapy and in person.
  • I will also be launching a podcast and self-care subscription boxes!
  • I have plans/dreams to launch other self care items of my own design 🙂
  • This blog will continue!
Uncategorized

Nourish Your Soul

What nourishes you? What fills your cup? Who inspires you?

  • do that
  • go there
  • see them

So often we do what nourishes others, we fill their cup and we inspire other people…..but we ignore our own needs.

Here’s what I do to fill my own cup:

  • listen to uplifting and empowering music
  • drink hot tea
  • go for walks/hikes
  • create
  • write

Here’s what I do to nourish myself:

  • take days off work
  • take hot baths
  • journal
  • look at old photos of my kids
  • visit with family

I also try to fill my social media with accounts that inspire me and unfollow any that drain me!

Uncategorized

Making Monday Your Favorite Day of the Week

Poor Monday, she gets a bad reputation! You don’t have to scroll long to see anti-Monday posts, see quotes like: I’ve got a case of the Mondays and now we see references on Sunday about how much people hate Smonday (on Sunday when you realize it’s about to be Monday). Why all the hate for Mondays!?

Instead of being overly negative about one simple day of the week, one seventh of your life, you could absolutely turn your thought process on it’s head and see Monday as a gift!

Monday is a fresh start, a new beginning, an opportunity to set new goals and give yourself the opportunity to look at things in a new way! I love Mondays for this reason. If the weekend is difficult, it’s over! If last week was difficult, it’s over! Give yourself permission to leave the past in the past. Give yourself permission to get excited for the week ahead!

#mondaymotivation!

Uncategorized

The POWER of Gratitude

If you know me, you know that I am a big fan of gratitude! In our home, we discuss gratitude every evening at dinner, around the table each person (even guests) are asked to share one thing they are grateful for that day! Initially, this was a difficult practice for our kids; however, over time they have gotten the hang of it! They are also the first ones to remind me of the practice when I forget!

The research surrounding the topic supports the benefits also! People are less reactive and negative when they are able to focus on their feelings of gratitude regularly!

Just a few of the benefits of gratitude:

  • we are able to hold onto positive feelings for longer
  • we are less pessimistic
  • we are more able to forgive
  • we have better overall moods
  • we experience better health
  • we feel more connected to others in our lives

Are you willing to build mindfulness of gratitude into your daily life? I have a blank page in my journal that says “I’m so grateful…” for each month. I challenge myself to jot down 3 things each day (big or small) that bring me feelings of gratitude, contentment, pride, joy, happiness, love, etc. As the month goes on, it brings me so much happiness to see the page fill up! Other ways to practice mindfulness of gratitude are to write letters to people about why you appreciate having them in your life (even if you never send it). You can use apps that prompt you to track things that bring you joy and cause you to feel grateful also! Give it a try, it can flip your outlook from negative to content (or positive) in just few days!

Inspiration, mental health

My Personal Goals

I thought I’d share with you all my goals. I am partially sharing this to hold myself accountable and partially sharing to inspire you! It honestly never crossed my mind to share things about my personal goals more often; however, I am currently reading the book “A Year of Less” by Cait Flandres and she shared monthly how she was doing related to financial goals, sobriety, and motivation. I love this!

Here goes:

  1. Workout 4-5 times per week – right now this includes Orange Theory Fitness, Planet Fitness, home workouts via Beach Body and family hikes!
  2. Overpay on my mortgage each month. I do have a stretch goal in mind which would have me pay off my house in approximately 5 years, my realistic goal is 10.
  3. Drink water, drink water, drink water. My goal is 70 ounces per day. The reason is that it helps me feel less physical pain, I have a clearer mind, I have drink less sugary drinks if I am drinking water and drinking water is the catalyst for me eating healthier also!
  4. Read bible study/devotional, journal and pray.  I lump these all in together because I find it’s difficult to do all three each day and yet, as they support one another. 
  5. Work on one random healthy habit. I change this each month and so far, they have included: washing my face before bed, flossing and using mouthwash, Kegels, meditation.
  6. No alcohol – this is a given. While I have no problem with alcohol overconsumption, I strive to drink very little. 
  7. Write or blog each day – well duh! Even though this is something I LOVE to do, I am as likely as the next person to avoid doing productive tasks in lieu of scrolling Tik Tok or watching something on Netflix!

I’ll make more of an effort to post my results each month!

Inspiration, Journaling, mental health

5 Daily Routines to Ease the Creep of Anxiety

Anxiety has a way of creeping up on you, increasing it’s grasp and intensity as the day goes on. As a mom of three and a human with anxiety issues, I have devised a set of daily rituals that help slow (and sometimes stop) the creep!

Keep a hand written to-do list.

Anxiety tries to convince you to ignore. Ignore tasks, ignore lists, ignore expectations, ignore feelings, etc. The inverse of that concept is to approach. We need to learn to approach that which we are afraid of in order to conquer our day! Anxiety will try to convince you that if you write everything down, you will not be able to handle it; however, I am telling you that writing it down will EASE your stress because it will allow you to see the tasks and forge a path forward!

Create a morning routine that maximizes productivity.

Here’s the deal, you are unlikely to have more motivation and energy later in the day (as we try to convince ourselves will happen). I have found, after many trials and errors, that front loading my chores into the first 90 minutes of the day makes for much smoother sailing. Here’s my morning routine:

7am wake up, be sure their floors are picked up (their responsibility the night before) and put food in front of kids. While they are eating, go start the Roomba upstairs (where the bedrooms are) and get dressed. The Roomba will run for 90 minutes while everything else is happening. Check to see who needs a load of laundry started…seriously, someone will! Start the load of laundry. Pack the lunches and bags for all the humans. While the kids are doing their things (brushing teeth, going potty, running around like crazy people) unload the dishwasher (also enlist their help, even little can put some things away) and reload. Bring Roomba back to it’s base to charge. Set it to run in a different part of the house when I’m gone.

Drink a lot of water.

Pop culture would have you believe that this line should say “drink a lot of coffee”. That is not the case! Drinking things that give you false energy (such as coffee/sugary drinks) will only leave you feeling jittery and cause a crash about 90 minutes after drinking. I generally limit myself to one coffee or caffeinated tea each morning and then switch to water. Water will give you energy and motivation to continue with other healthier habits for the rest of the day. It will also make you have to pee a lot which will force you to get up and move around (which also gives you more energy!)

Eat produce.

Similar to the above tip. We have a tendency to reach for carbs and sugar when our energy is dipping; however, this is sure to increase our sluggishness, fatigue and mood swings throughout the day. Carbs and sugar aren’t banned; however, increasing them isn’t going to help you. When your energy is dipping, try to eat things that are more natural and from the produce section of the grocery store! Fruits and veggies contain so much natural sugar, antioxidants, etc. which is what you need to have sustained energy throughout the day.

Early to Bed.

As I mentioned in the first bullet point, your energy isn’t going to magically increase throughout the day. I strongly suggest you bump your bedtime up! I generally try to get to bed close to 9pm, with 10pm as a deadline. I have learned that going to bed after 10pm is a sure fire way to sabotage my next day.