I watched the Golden Globes last night feeling inspired (Oprah? 😭) AND knowing that many of my sessions this week are likely to circle back to the #metoo movement and difficult feelings it brings up. Difficult feelings? YEP...
See, it’s completely normal that something like #metoo can be empowering & inspiring AND bring up feelings of shame, confusion, anger and sadness. Many women are stopping for the first time to reflect on all of the shit they have endured, and that’s tough. In those places there may be regret, there may be trauma and most certainly there’s pure exhaustion. And that’s OKAY. If it seems like everyone but you is on a high from the #metoo movement, and the #timesupinitiative, please know that you are not alone. You have permission to feel how you feel and do what you can, when you can.
In the meantime, seek support from some awesome female friends or consider therapy if issues from your past (or present) have bubbled to the surface and are impacting your life. 2018 is the year I am more proud than ever to work (from a feminist perspective) with amazing female clients 🖤
More thoughts on this to come...
A Word on Wellness:
Happy New Year! What a great time to think about our mindset and how it is helping (or hindering) our growth. Whether you have a New Year's Resolution or not, consider this example of two different mindsets toward the goal of starting to run in the New Year:
I would like to start running, but I'm not a good runner. My first run was really difficult, I knew I just wasn't a good runner. Man, these other people who like to run are so lucky. This was a waste of a goal since I'm not good at it, I should just stick to the things that I know I can do.
I haven't figured out how to enjoy running yet, but I'm going to try. If my friend can run regularly and love it then I probably can too. Everyone starts somewhere. My first run was brutal, but that's what happens when you're learning something new. It will get easier.
Dr. Carol Dweck, out of Stanford, looked at whether people believe their talent, success, intelligence are innate (meaning they are born with it) or whether they believe it can be achieved, learned and cultivated by hard work and perseverance. She coined the terms Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset to describe the two. You can see in my example above that Human 1 has a fixed mindset, whereas Human 2 has a growth mindset. As you can imagine, if you believe that you can grow, learn and achieve, you are going to behave differently. You are more likely to stick to things, more likely to be positive and work hard.
I often tell my clients, "be careful what you tell yourself about yourself." If you tell yourself, I CAN'T ______ , I'll NEVER ______ then it will be virtually impossible to grow. If you want to work on being more assertive, but you are constantly telling yourself, "I am just a passive person," then there's no motivation to work at something you don't believe can change. See what I mean?
Watch where this shows up in children: "I'm not good at math, I can't make friends, I will never like sports."
Or in business, "We will just never hit that goal, we can't compete with ____, we will never be THAT successful." Examples of the fixed mindset are everywhere.
As you set some intentions for this new year, or as you go through the ordinary day, be curious about this. Pay attention to your mindset, do you tend to have a Growth or Fixed Mindset? If you catch yourself in a fixed mindset, can you notice this and see what it feels like to change your perspective to one that sees growth as a possiblity?
Something to Read:
Anxy, a beautifully designed magazine with the goal of challenging the stigma around mental health, has their second edition out and the topic for this entire issue is: The Workaholic
Something to Listen To:
"Where Should We Begin" with Esther Perel has been my obsession these past few weeks. Each episode takes you inside a one time counseling session with a couple. Each couple and their issues are at once unique and relatable. Grab some tissue.
A Word on Wellness:
If you are someone who struggles with anxiety, here's something to think about as we go into the final month of this year: Are you actively working to prevent anxiety or simply trying to react to and manage it once you are highly anxious? I'm going to share one way that I help clients understand how to begin to manage their anxiety in a preventative way. This is also relevant if you get stressed or overwhelmed regularly.
In therapy sessions I will often hear about the moment that the anxiety became so unmanageable it was either debilitating or highly uncomfortable. I'll hear things like, "and then I started crying out of no where" or "my heart just started racing and I felt like I couldn't breathe" or "I had to leave the meeting and pretend that I needed to make an urgent phone call because I had to be alone." Clients want to know what tools I can give them to manage that moment when they simply couldn't "fake" it anymore. And while there are tools for those moments, what I want them to see are all of the places throughout their day where they can implement these tools BEFORE the anxiety hits crisis level.
Maybe you can relate to the client who had to abruptly leave a meeting because she felt like she was getting close to a full blown panic attack * If this, or something like this, has happened to you before, it might be useful to think about what the earlier part of your day might have looked like:
[ You were running late for work, had to literally run to catch the bus. You are flustered and out of sorts upon entering the office (at this point the sympathetic nervous system - fight/flight - has been activated, but you're likely not aware of that) // Someone undermined you in a morning meeting and you were really upset but unable to say anything in the moment (Your blood pressure and heart rate have increased) // You received a text from your boyfriend that was annoying and then proceeded to get into a 5 minute text-fight // A coworker asks you for a couple of last minute documents that are needed asap // You have to walk out of the high pressure meeting scheduled for the afternoon < ---- This is where you become aware of your physical anxiety symptoms.]
Most of us are going through the day on autopilot. If this is the case, you may not be aware of the affect that these other small stressors have had on you. What if you could increase your awareness of your body and yourself moment to moment (mindfulness) so that you are aware first thing in the morning when you're running late that, "oh, I'm feeling a little agitated" and you can choose to take a couple of minutes at that point (at the start of your day) to activate the parasympathetic nervous system - rest & digest - and calm down. You can see how it's really difficult to do anything about this unless you are aware in the moment. One way to increase this awareness is asking yourself some questions throughout the day. Some examples: "how am I doing?, what do I need right now?, am I breathing?" Also, notice your behavior: are you running around the office? Are you speaking rapidly, fidgeting or unable to be still? Notice your physical body: Is there tension, heart racing, heaviness in your chest?
Once you determine that you should probably take a preventative moment to yourself, the best tool in your toolkit is your breath. So, in our fictional scenario, you may have chosen, at any point before you entered that afternoon meeting, to go to the restroom or your office and sit for 3 minutes breathing deeply, inhale, exhale. You could go for a walk around the block. You could splash water on your face.
We mistakenly think that we'll take these moments for ourselves at the end of the day. "I'll relax when it's all done." But our nervous system doesn't work that way. The longer we wait, the more these stressors compound and then we need a whole lot more than a 3 minute breather. If you are consistently struggling with anxiety/stress/overwhelm it's likely that you are ignoring your bodies cues to take a break. New Year's resolution anyone?
More tools for managing anxiety & overwhelm to come in the New Year!
* Fictional client scenarios
Something to Watch:
This video is a little silly, but does a good job of explaining what is happening with our stress responses and supports what I'm rambling about above ^
Something to Santa:
Volunteer to adopt one of the families affected by the California Wildfires.
A Word on Wellness:
What are your boundaries with technology? If this is the first time you are thinking about this then GREAT, I'm so glad you're reading this newsletter. If not, then use this as a reminder to review what you're doing and think about whether it's working for you.
The instantaneous exchange of information (made possible by our technology) has created an unrealistic demand on our time and attention. Think about it... for many of us, our work email is linked to our phone, in addition to a personal email or two (??) Emails, calls, texts, a comment on an instagram picture... all of these forms of technological communication can create, what feels like, a never ending to-do list when you are expecting yourself to respond to or address each one. Right now, too many of us are on-call 24/7 to our technology and it has the same affect as being on-call 24/7 for work. Our phone is like a dysfunctional, needy boss - always wanting more from us. We NEED to unplug and be truly "off-duty." The feeling that you are constantly behind, that you aren't responsive enough, that you have to address something immediately (lest it get lost in the ether)... This causes underlying anxiety that you may be well aware of, or that you maybe never pinpointed before. And guess what? The answer isn't to be more efficient, to respond to emails on the weekend or to just work harder. Nothing is wrong with you. There is something wrong with our system, with our new normal.
Before we move on to the strategic piece of this, take a moment to assess your relationship to your phone, computer etc. These are some good questions to ask:
Are you currently using any of the above examples? Do you have any boundaries in place? If not, don't worry! Pick one or two and give it a try. Not only will this benefit you, it can have a huge impact on others around you. One example of this is in the workplace... If you are sending emails to others at midnight, that is likely going to increase their feelings of anxiety around needing to respond. Whereas, if you are more clear on your boundaries, it invites other people to do the same. I would love to hear from you about some of the boundaries you've set in place. What are some things that work for you?
Something to Read:
In a past newsletter I referenced the emotional labor toll that women experience and linked to a comic strip that illustrated that issue. Harper's Bazaar has a more in depth op-ed on that topic here. Something for women to think about - how can we let go of the control and allow for change? For men - how often do you take complete ownership over household/family/parenting tasks? If you're already sharing the load well in your relationship, then keep up the good work everyone! It's gotta be a joint effort to create more equality.
A Word on Wellness:
Change of plans for today's blog post... I can feel the writer in my brain trying to eloquently speak to the tragedy in Vegas, and trying to offer a larger statement about gun violence. But to no avail. Unfortunately, by now, I am able to recognize my pattern of feeling compelled to speak out, and finding myself utterly speechless at the same time. My mind works overtime on days like today. I need time (as we all do) to digest the news in order to speak to it. So I'm going to honor that. I'm going to give myself that space and in lieu of my words, here are a couple of voices that stood out to me today.
Via Glennon Doyle:
It is a terrible day - and it is okay to feel that deeply. There is nothing wrong with you- there is just something wrong. We will rise and we will work- but today- today it is okay to stop and rest and hold our hearts and people close. Stay soft. The world needs people who are strong enough to stay soft.
Via the wonderful Brene Brown:
1. Prayer + civic action are not mutually exclusive. Join me in both.
2. Step away from social media coverage and toward real people for support, action, conversation, and being with each other in collective pain. Keep informed, but don't stay glued. Our secondary trauma will not make us better helpers - it shuts us down and sends us into self-protection and blame-finding.
Sending love to Las Vegas and all of you.
PRACTICE San Francisco - a new yoga studio and space for children, teens and parents is officially open! PRACTICE will provide programming related to mindfulness, resilience and effective coping with emotion. This community will be extremely beneficial for any of you new/new-ish parents out there, or for parents who are years in and need a new perspective or more support.
- Yoga: Pre/Post-Natal, Teen and Child
- Weekly Parenting Workshops
- Mindful Parent Book Club
- Mindfulness Classes (for parents and children)
I have been waiting for a space in San Francisco that offers yoga classes specifically for teenagers, and it is finally here. Look for me on the schedule as an occasional yoga class substitute, and for future workshops!
Something to Read:
Exactly What to Do When You Feel a Panic Attack Coming On
CLICK HERE to sign up or receive more info!
This group will provide a supportive place that you can count on as we head into the end of the year. A great way to end your busy week and wind down into the weekend. Perfectly timed for those of us who need more zen in our lives as the holidays approach.
This group is perfect for women who:
We will meet for 30-45 minutes for discussion and process and then practice yoga for the remainder of the session. The focus of the yoga segment will be on how you experience anxiety in your body and the ways in which that changes as we practice.
*Disclaimer: This is not your hardcore workout for the week.
Please feel free to contact me to sign up or if you have additional questions. Space is limited!
A Word on Wellness:
Here's hoping that by the time I send this newsletter Fogust * will truly be over. Some of us are seriously affected by this moody weather and lack of sunshine. There's actually a mental health diagnosis, aptly named SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder that, in most places in the country, plagues people in the winter. Since summer in San Francisco can be more like winter, this is when many people feel the impacts of the weather on their mood. Symptoms can include: oversleeping, feeling sad or moody, trouble concentrating or loss of pleasure in usual activities.
This post isn't about SAD specifically, as much as it's about being aware of your mood and how you're doing on any given day. It's easy to function on autopilot and not notice changes like, "hey, I'm having a tough time getting up in the morning, I've blown off the gym twice this week and I'm irritable at home - what's going on here?" Increasing this awareness will allow you to identify if something is causing this change in your mood and habits. Once you know what's happening, you can be intentional as you go through the day and plan to address your needs so that things can improve.
There's this saying many therapists use, "You have to name it to tame it" (coined by Dr. Dan Siegel) and there is so much truth in this. You can't "tame" or control something if you don't know what it is. Once you can name what's happening, you can take concrete steps forward. But the naming comes first. and The naming requires awareness.
Using the SAD example... this might mean noticing that your mood and motivation has shifted with the lack of sunshine. Simply knowing that this is the cause will allow you to force yourself to exercise, for instance, even when you don't want to. You'll be able to predict, "I'm not going to want to get out of bed in the morning because it will be gloomy" but do it anyway because you know it's what you truly need. You may even plan for some time out of the city where you can get a dose of sunshine and warmth. Whatever the cause of a change in mood (or in some cases no cause at all) knowing that the change has occurred truly is half the battle. Now might be a good time to ask yourself how you're doing. How has your mood been lately?
* Fogust is what San Franciscans call that month in the summer (aka August) where fog can hang over the city for weeks on end.
Something to Read:
This is a compelling read and definitely explains a lot of what I see my teen clients struggle with: Have smartphones destroyed a generation?
A colleague of mine is opening PRACTICE San Francisco, a gorgeous studio space on Union Street, offering programs related to mindfulness and effective coping skills for kids and families. PRACTICE will offer prenatal yoga, yoga for kids and teens, mindfulness classes, parenting workshops and a chance to build real community. I will likely be collaborating to offer workshops there in the future. If you're in the neighborhood on September 16th feel free to stop by the open house!
Expect quotes, observations, tips and reflections.