When you hear the phrase “you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others”, what reaction do you have? You may think, “I don’t have time for that” or laugh and say, “Good one, Elise”. You may logically understand and agree with it while your body becomes tense.
Regardless of your reaction, it’s safe to say that self-care can be hard, uncomfortable, and often tossed aside as unimportant. Yet, it’s one of the best habits and tools we can develop for ourselves to live a healthy, fulfilling, and connected life.
The Importance of Self-Care
Think of yourself as a bucket that constantly fills and empties. When you do things that energize, center, and realign yourself, you're filling that bucket. Neglecting these things empties it. Someone with a "full bucket" is more patient, empathetic, and kind. Those with an "empty bucket" are quicker to become irritated and frustrated while having less tolerance and patience for others.
Filling our buckets and taking intentional care of ourselves produces self-confidence, empowerment, and self-esteem by recognizing our needs and meeting them. We are increasing our resources and ability to handle life’s constant stressors.
That’s great Elise but…
There are infinite reasons why we don’t practice self-care. It can feel like another thing we have to add to our already long to-do lists so it does not become a priority and moves to the very bottom. Our identity is also partially formed by how we provide and care for others, and taking care of ourselves can feel as though we’re being selfish, but that’s the complete opposite of healthy self-care!
So where do I start?
Start simple. Build self care exercises into routines that are already established in your day so
that it’s not another thing you have to find time for. Here are some ideas to get you started:
HALT. When we feel hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, self-care can help prevent us from snapping at our children, tuning out our spouse, or lashing out on our coworkers. Identify and communicate when HALT is controlling your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
Breathe. One of the quickest ways to center, calm, and energize ourselves is to pause and take a couple of deep breaths. This can help relax our muscles, lower blood pressure, strengthen our lungs and heart, and increase our oxygen supply. Inhale through your nose for about 5 counts, hold the breath for a moment, and exhale through your mouth for a count longer than the inhalation.
Practice incorporating these building blocks of self-care into your daily life, and check in next
month for more advanced self care ideas! You’re worth taking care of yourself.
"Children are perceptive sponges! Lead by example."- lori cull-deshmukh
Does your child….
Anxiety is often confused with behavior problems. When it comes to young children, anxiety tends to manifest as changes in behavior. These changes can be subtle and hard to detect at first, but over time they snowball.
Anxiety is a natural reaction to stress. Some anxiety is actually good for us. It can protect us and keep us safe. Anxiety, however, can become a problem when excessive worry interferes with normal
daily living. For children, it’s important to pay attention to changes at school and at home.
Where To Start
If you are unsure about your child’s behaviors, keep a log and look for patterns.
Information about the episodes that could be helpful are:
Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety in children can present in many different forms. In addition to behavior
outbursts, here are some more common symptoms:
How to Support Your Child
Anxious feelings are part of growing up. Children will be in unfamiliar situations where they learn ways for dealing with situations and others. This is how children learn social and emotional skills that will assist them throughout their life. The goal is to help your child manage anxiety. If you suspect that your child’s anxiety is mild, taking these steps may help:
Finally…and most important
Children are perceptive sponges! Lead by example and show them ways you cope with anxiety. Let them hear and see you manage calmly, tolerating a situation and feeling good about getting through it.
interfere with his or her normal daily living, seek an evaluation from a licensed mental
Lori Cull-Deshmukh, LMSW
Child and Family Therapist
"To be accessible means to be available for your partner, both physically and emotionally." - James Mcmillian
Are you A.R.E in Your Relationship
Sue Johnson, founder of Emotion Focused Couple Therapy, describes the need to be Accessible, Responsive, and Engaged (A.R.E) in loving relationships. Just as children become anxious or withdrawn when their parents aren't accessible, responsive, or engaged, spouses and partners find themselves in the same state of concern and feelings of disconnection emerge. As I have worked with couples in marriage counseling, I often see these as three areas that can be nurtured in the relationship.
To be accessible means to be available for your partner, both physically and emotionally. If you physically are never around then distance can grow between you and your partner. This can be through long hours at work, long distances between partners, or different interests or responsibilities pulling each in different directions. Sometimes children can even put an emotional distance between partners. If you find yourself in a time of your life where it is difficult to be physically accessible, try to find ways to counter balance the time away. If you have long hours during the week are you still able to spend time of the weekends? Are you able to call during the day or at night? Can you take a random day off together? When situations make this difficult it is important to be creative.
Emotional distance can be even more detrimental than physical distance. Are you willing to share your thoughts and feelings with your partner, or does it feel like you aren't even there even though you are in the same room? Being emotionally accessible means there needs to be a level of vulnerability and a willingness to share with your spouse what you might not share with anyone else.
When I think of situations where a spouse is not responsive, the picture that immediately comes to mind is of one spouse watching TV or playing on their phone while the other is venting about their day. It is like talking to a brick wall. Or where one spouse is deeply involved in a book, or a project, or anything that distracts from the person next to them who is crying out to be heard. Responsiveness is a must in relationships. If a partner isn't responsive then that thing that is distracting them is perceived to be more important than their partner. I have heard time and again that "___ is more important than me." Fill in the blank. We have so many things in society that can distract us from genuine relationships and interactions. To make committed and loving relationships work we must set priorities, and our spouse must know that they are at the top of that priority list.
Are you a passive observer of your marriage or an active participant? Being engaged in a relationship means to be active and involved, to go out of your way to reach out to your partner and ask about their day. To make plans for the weekend or to help plan your next trip. When you leave in the mornings to make a point of kissing goodbye and when you come home to make your partner the first person you greet. This sounds easier than it is. We get consumed with our jobs, chores, and routine of the day. We get stressed about money and children. We have so many responsibilities that pull at us that we can sometimes lose sight of our relationship and investing the time to keep it healthy. If you aren't engaged in your relationship then it is like having a pet that you never feed...the relationship will eventually starve.
When reflecting on your relationship ask yourself the questions posed above and find where you can actively work to improve. These aren't the silver bullet of healthy relationships, but without them you will likely find yourself and your partner slowly growing apart. They are the foundation of a healthy relationship.
James McMillian, MA, LPC, NCC
Resolve - Counseling & Wellness
We all know the feeling that our furry friends bring us when we come home to them: they rush to the door, smother us in kisses, and suddenly any bad thing that happened in our day is gone simply by their incomparable presence. What you may not know is that your companion may qualify to be registered as an Emotional Support Animal for you! Let me give you the quick 411 on having an “ESA” in your life…
What is an ESA?
Also called an assistance animal, an ESA is a companion animal that provides therapeutic benefit to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability.
What animals qualify for an ESA?
An emotional support animal can be any type of animal that serves as a companion to you, and can provide comfort or relief to any of your symptoms accompanying your mental disability. Although dogs are the most popular registered emotional support animals, there’s no reason your cat, bird, lizard, etc. cannot serve as your support, as long as you can prove their companionship brings a form of relief to your symptoms.
Who qualifies to have an ESA?
Anyone with an identified and diagnosed mental disability qualifies to have an emotional support animal.
Some of these diagnoses could include, but are not limited to :
Where is your ESA qualified to go?
Unlike a registered service dog, an ESA does not have open access to public places as many would think, however, there are some surprising places that an ESA is appropriate to take. Like an airplane! According to Service Dog Certification, Delta Airlines had over 250,000 emotional support animals fly with them last year! Additional to flying, an ESA qualifies to live within a home or apartment that has a “no pet” policy.
Your ESA is even approved to stay with you in a hotel when they’re officially registered!
How does your companion become an ESA?
You must be certified as emotionally disabled by a psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist,
or other duly-licensed and/or certified mental health professional via a formal and appropriately
formatted letter on the professional’s agency letterhead.
Ensure that your letter contains the following:
The use of an ESA is growing substantially as people are learning all of the benefits that come from having a comforting companion by their side. Recently, even Uber has been working to incorporate ESA regulations within the rides that they offer! If after reading this article you feel that you would benefit
from having an ESA, be sure to talk to your mental health provider today! Comfort may be closer than you knew!
How to Qualify for An Emotional Support Animal. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2018, from
https://www.servicedogcertifications.org/how-to- qualify-for- an-emotional- support-animal
Counseling Intern, Level 1
"The only person who can hold you back is you."
For years, my mom has confidently said to me, “Make it a great day!”--meaning I have control of how my day goes. I’ve always felt like this one simple statement gave me the power to start my day in a positive, optimistic direction. And, as the day progressed and chaos occurred, I remembered that I could control how I responded or reacted to situations or circumstances I couldn't change. Today, I continue to choose the Proactive approach, as I’ve found that the benefits far outweigh anything else.
Proactive Versus Reactive
When you are proactive, you take responsibility for events, feelings, and outcomes. For example, if
you’re struggling in a class, you can take accountability for procrastinating and approach the teacher on how to catch up. When being proactive, you own up to your faults and rather than dwell on what got you there, you use them to fuel you forward. You acknowledge your efforts (or lack thereof) and gauge your progress on that. Being proactive means you take ownership of your actions and choices and use them to learn and grow. It means being real with yourself and others. If someone doesn’t understand your point-of-view, you recognize that maybe you weren’t communicating effectively and have the opportunity to resolve or prevent conflict in the future.
Being reactive means blaming others for choices. It means that you react to situations through your emotions. Here, you can often come across as blaming, resentful, insecure, or angry. Common statements made when someone is being reactive include: “It’s just the way I am”, “There’s nothing I can do”, “She ruined my day”, “The teacher wasn’t fair”. Blaming is an easy way to not take responsibility for your own behaviors, which hinders the insight you need to be proactive.
Phrases like "I can't," or "I have to" are also examples of reactive stances. By saying these, you are finding an alternative reason that will appear more acceptable to your decision. When you say, “I would, but…", you use "but" to justify your choice rather than being honest or putting in the effort to do the activity or task.
The problem with reactive responses is that they often lead to displaced anger, when you may subconsciously be upset with yourself and your decisions. It’s not always easy being proactive, but it challenges you to have courage and to be resourceful, persistent, and resilient.
How To Use Proactive Responses
By doing these things, you will be more rational and logical in your decision-making. This will support you in making more effective and fulfilling choices. This process requires some self-awareness in order to be able to pause and look at the situation from a different viewpoint. When emotions are heightened, it might be a habit to instantly react. Proactively responding requires you to take charge of your life and your choices versus just watching it happen. You take hold of the key to your own happiness and destiny.
As a teen therapist, I often tell my clients at the end of group or a session, “make it a great day”. We may not always feel in control of the events that occur around us, but we do have control in how we choose to manage it emotionally and behaviorally.
Allison Kidd, LMSW, LMAC