Written by: Lindsay Waxler, LGSW
For many of us, life has become a competition of who can work harder, earn more, parent more vigilantly, and achieve as much as possible from one day to the next. We run from work to soccer practice and back home to prepare a rushed dinner that is hastily eaten, only to look up and wonder why we feel so tired all the time. Then we wake up the next day and the cycle begins again. The adage of burning the candle at both ends has become an actual lifestyle that leaves us feeling empty and exhausted. Why is it so hard for us to carve time out of our busy routine to engage in the simple practice of self-care?
Self-care is an act of self-love. When we neglect ourselves, our physical and mental health
suffers, and our ability to find joy is depleted. Research shows that chronic stress leads to a
weakened immune system, making sickness more likely. Compromised mental health is linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. But even knowing this, some of us still feel selfish when engaging in self-care. Without something tangible to show, our time spent caring for ourselves isn’t validated by others and we return to the daily chaos of accomplishments.
The quagmire of this cycle is that we sacrifice our happiness to keep it running smoother and faster. To break this cycle, we must first learn that it is ok to say no to some of the things that have become expected of us. By agreeing to every request, we give and give from our mental, emotional, and physical ‘cup’ without taking the time to replenish it. We do this of course because we love our families and friends and don’t want to disappoint anyone. But consider for a moment that by loving and caring for yourself (as much as you care for others), you alter your very existence by nurturing your ability to find joy. I challenge you to say no to some of the tasks you’ve imposed on yourself and use that time to refill your physical, mental, and emotional cup. Some of the easiest ways to do this:
Find ‘mindful moments’ in the chaos to exercise self-care. Breathe deeply, walk slower, and
approach your OWN physical, mental, and emotional health with as much love as you give to the people around you.
Written by: Sonia Heidenreich, LGSW
In my life outside of being a therapist, I teach yoga, and in that role, I sometimes get to participate in professional development with my fellow teachers. Recently, we were introduced to the concept of the “Teachability Index” during a training, and I found it really interesting.
Now, before I get started explaining it, you might be wondering: What does teaching, teachability, or any of this professional development mumbo-jumbo have to do with my work in therapy? Well, I would argue that when we’re trying to make any type of change, whether that is learning a new concrete skill in our jobs or learning a new way of relating to our own emotions, a new way of being in our lives, or new ways to manage feelings of anxiety or depression, we need to get really honest about what is holding us back from changing. The Teachability Index offers us a quick way to assess where we might be getting stuck when we’re considering making changes.
Learning to ride a bike requires a desire to learn and the willingness to change (and fall over)—thank you REI Co-Op for the expert advice and photo.
So, let’s jump in!
It’s a simple process that only involves 2 questions. You rate yourself on a scale of 0-10 for both questions, multiply your numbers together, and get your Teachability index score. Sounds straightforward, right?
The first question to ask yourself is: What is your desire to learn? [0 – 10]
Things to consider:
What is your willingness to change? [0-10]
The best and most relatable example I heard came from a fellow teacher, who shared her goal of “being in a committed relationship.” She rated herself highly on her desire to learn, citing her general love of learning, willingness to talk to friends about how to use dating apps and to ask for help creating a dating profile, and her general openness to hearing from others about their dating success stories. When she went to rate her willingness to change, however, she very honestly gave herself a low rating, citing her lack of willingness to change her daily routines (she’s busy with work she loves, friends she values, and family she wants to spend time with), and her dread of enduring first date experiences. So, although she says she wants to be in a relationship, she realized that maybe she isn’t as ready or willing to take steps in her life right now to make that more likely to happen.
This might sound depressing, but I think it’s actually very helpful. Rather than just feeling stuck or attributing our lack of progress towards a goal as a personal failing, it shows us where exactly we might be getting in our own way. It also is an honest way to assess ourselves in this present moment and points us in the direction we might need to go. If we love learning but aren’t willing to make changes in our habits, we might really enjoy learning new skills to manage anxiety but struggle to practice them in our lives. Then, rather than wondering why we’re still feeling the same way, maybe we can use this information to hold ourselves accountable to practicing, or even to just acknowledge that there are other things getting in the way of our progress (life, right?). On the flipside, maybe we’re totally willing to make changes, but we hear new ideas from people and think, “Yeah, but what does that person know?” or “Why would that ever work?” Okay, so maybe we don’t have a true desire to learn new things in this present moment.
The last and greatest thing about this index is that we can repeat it as many times as we want. Maybe we’re having a stressful week and end up with a low score, and then some time passes, we’re feeling great, and we assess ourselves again and find we have a higher Teachability Index. Great! It might be a perfect time to make a change and to reasonably expect to see progress towards our goal.
We would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday. Don't forget to take a moment and enjoy the people around you.
An extra special thank you to Dr. Mattai for providing such a wonderful holiday lunch for the entire staff and for being an outstanding boss all year long!
Happy Holidays from all of us at Innovative Psychiatry.
Written by: Elizabeth Dolan, LCPC
A staggering report by the American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology states that
Asthma affects more than 24 million people in the U.S., of which are 6 million children.
Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. with an annual cost of $18
billion. With more than 50 million Americans suffering from allergies each year, I have thought
often about the negative side effects and the possible on-set side effects of depression. There has
been many studies out in recent years that proves the correlation between depression and allergy
sufferers. Some research has been focused around the symptoms of allergies and their effects on
the human brain. As a chronic allergy sufferer myself I can attest to the inability to breathe
through my nose, the constant sinus pressure headaches, not sleeping well, and overall eye
irritation during peak days of pollen or ragweed. The overall symptoms of allergies can cause
what might feel or look like depression. It is important for self-care that we are aware of the
symptoms for both and are treated for both separately.
-Staying indoors when pollen counts are high.
-Keep windows closed and the air conditioner on.
-Keep humidity in your home below 50% to stop mold growth.
-Replace/Wash curtains frequently, and go with easy-to-clean floor coverings like wood or tile
rather than rugs or carpeting.
-Wash bedding frequently in water that’s at least 130 F to kill dust mites.
-Encase mattresses and pillows in allergen-impermeable covers.
-Don’t share your bed with the family pet.
Written by Elizabeth Dolan, Counselor
Families seeking help are often not familiar with the resources that can be provided
unless they have gone through this type of experience in the past. I will help
provide some of the overarching terms that can feel daunting to a family new to the
mental health healing process. One of the terms is called Wraparound Services
(WRAP) which can be described as community based, individualized, and
comprehensive mental, emotional, behavioral, and social services and care for
people in need, like helpless children and their parents. These services incorporate
an individual’s social, emotional, health, academic, and sometimes occupational
needs, and recruit multiple providers from within the community like teachers or
Another term used is Child and Family Team (CFT) Meetings. These team
meetings can be very beneficial between children, parents, and human service
providers for goal setting and to make the necessary changes to successfully
reunify families. Often providers can work with the family to construct a plan for
meeting appropriate goals as well as offering resources and support.
In the school system the term Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) are often
discussed. IEPs are developed primarily by school personnel in the special
education department in response to the needs of specific children who are not
performing well at school for mental, emotional, behavioral, familial, and/or social
reasons. This is a good resource if the patient is not meeting success at school and
progressing at a certain rate in comparison to other on-level students.
The final term I will talk about is Team Decision Meetings (TDMs). These
meetings are held between different social service providers before important
decisions are made on behalf of the child. During these meetings, providers
develop a suitable course of action given the family’s circumstances to help update
the different organizations on the progress of a family. These terms can be briefed
over very quickly by the different parties and it is important as a family to
understand the context to help best serve the patient.