Articles Tagged with: self-care
A Gift to Support Your Self-Care on Mother’s Day & Every Day

Mother’s day is hard for so many, especially now.
For those who want nothing more than to hug their mother, or embrace their children rather than give a distant wave.
For those who have lost a child, or have been trying for the child they have yet to hold.
For those who grieve the mother they loved dearly and has passed on, or the mother they had wished for but never had.
Mother’s day can be hard

And so… for all of those who are mothers and for all who have had a mother , we offer this little gift: an affirmation we hope will help you connect with the infinite love that created you that you can tap into and give to yourself.

Many thanks to @zachkellum for offering this opportunity to combine my voice and this message with his beautiful music. Follow him on Instagram for a dose of his vibes that will make your spirit soar.

Our hope is that you listen to this affirmation daily, maybe even several times a day, to absorb the truth of the message so that you can and will show up even better for yourself. And if you love it, please do share it. We all need this now.

Enjoy.

Sending you all a big virtual hug.

Dr. Stacy & The Design Your Life Team


Say “Yes!” to Falling in Love with Life

 

“By the end of this conversation, we are going to fall in love”

How’s that for an opening? My friend Michelle shared this gem as something she often says when meeting someone for the first time, be they man, woman or child. Amazing!

She clarified that she does not mean this in a sexual way. It is simply a beautiful expression of a willingness to be authentic and an invitation for the other person to do the same with the assurance that whatever is shared will be loved.

If you are lucky enough to cross paths with Michelle, you are immediately struck by the obvious. She is a naturally stunning beauty. But even more striking is her big, bombastic personality, her fierce intelligence and her love of life. She is the first to organize the party, and brings the party with her wherever she goes.

As we continued to talk, she dropped some more wisdom. She shared that at some point she realized that she can either put her child to bed and spend her evening flaked out on the couch watching television and stay stuck in a rut, or she can get out and do things and create a life that is interesting and fun. And anyone who knows Michelle knows that any time spent with her is never ordinary.

Along these lines, she went on to remind me of one of the first conversations we had a few years ago. We were hanging out on the steps of our children’s school, the place that brought us together, when she shared that she had noticed she had become quite negative in her relationship with her husband. With this awareness, she had made the revolutionary decision to experiment with just saying “yes” to whatever her husband asked of her. No argument, no discussion, just simply, YES. Wow. “And how is that working for you?” I replied, to which she immediately exclaimed, “Well, my husband is taking us on a month long trip to Italy!” Insert howls of laughter here.

As much as she got something tangible out of it, she did note that her choice to adopt an attitude of YES created a much needed shift. She essentially decided to stop being negative and pushed herself to just do things. We can all make a million excuses and go through the motions of life and nothing changes. Or we can “flip the script” so to speak and create the life we want to live.

Little did Michelle know that the mega talented, and prolific Shonda Rhimes (creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder) has written about how saying YES changed her life as well. Her book Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person is at the top of my list of must reads for this week.

Whether it’s Michelle or Shonda, I hope that these wise, wonderful and vibrant women inspire you to get on with it and Design Your Life.

And if they do, please share your story with me and others. We all need to hear it.

Until next time,

Dr. Stacy


Realign, Reconnect and Find Your Flow

As much as I am calm and even keeled much of the time, there are days when I wake up and carry on like a bull in a china shop.  “We have to get going!”, “Why aren’t you ready?” Push, push, push. I have to make things happen – NOW!!

Today started out as one of those days.  And could have continued had my dear friend and mentor not called me out and stopped me in my tracks.

As I reflect on our conversation, I realize that my drive to make things happen, and push on through, regardless of whether it feels right tends to come into full effect when I feel unsure in some way.  At such times, I retreat into my preferred comfort zone – my head.

Living in my head gives me the illusion of control.  When I am not sure what to do to make things happen, I over think, and get distracted by the minutia.  I will work on things, like a blog post, for the better part of a day, in order to make it just right.  And then the task just becomes… well, overwhelming.

What is the big picture that gets lost? Connection. And the only way to truly connect is to share one’s self authentically. I know this.  And I know that things flow more easily when I just “show up” and let things happen.  But even I, a professional, who teaches people to do this every day, can get off track.

This is why I am so thankful for having guides in my life who alert me when I am off center and help me to get back to understanding that I am most powerful when I am authentically me.

By the time I left the 2 hour marathon meeting, I was realigned.  And the most amazing afternoon unfolded.

I walked around the corner and discovered Homegrown, a produce stand selling the most gorgeous local fruit and vegetables.

Homegrown produce

I then went down to the lake for a late lunch and was greeted by a trio of dancing swallows, and four Canada Geese floating on the waves.

geese and flying swallow at lake

And as I watched their easy ebb and flow, and listened to the waves against the rocks, I was reminded of my connection with everything around me.  The tension eased even more and I returned.

This post is what unfolded.  It took about 20 minutes.  Easy.

Until next time,

Dr. Stacy

 

 


Letting Go of Perfectionism, One Challenge at a Time

I, like most people, would rather do just about anything before speaking in front of an audience.  And yet, in order to fulfill my goals of promoting mental health, public speaking has become increasingly necessary for me. 

My typical way of preparing for any kind of public talk is to literally script it in advance, jokes and all, and rehearse the heck out of it so that it comes across as natural.  And I pull it off every time.  I get the applause, and the positive comments. I succeed at projecting an image of complete confidence in spite of my anxiety.

That’s the thing about perfectionism – it’s usually rewarded.  But it’s a lot of work. And quite honestly, as a busy working mother building a business and trying to get on top of this social media thing, I frankly no longer have the time for this level of obsessiveness.

It also occurred to me that my perfectionistic approach essentially made me a hypocrite and had the potential to undermine one of the core messages I am trying to promote:  the power of authenticity. How could I speak about the power and importance of sharing one’s authentic voice while hiding behind a script?  How could I present a completely rehearsed talk when my goal is to make a genuine connection with the audience? 

So when I was asked to be one of 6 presenters at an event called My Epoch, I knew that I needed to take a different approach.  The spirit of the event was to make genuine connections with people you might not normally meet with the aim of cross pollinating knowledge and inspiring new ideas.  Clearly, there was no better opportunity to challenge myself to truly ‘walk the walk.’  It was time to let go of fear.

You see, I realized that the true motivator behind my pursuit of perfection was not conscientiousness, but fear.  Fear that I suddenly would be unable to articulate my thoughts, when in fact I receive positive feedback about the way I convey ideas every day be it with clients or in media interviews.  Fear that I would somehow present as not knowing what I was talking about when in fact I am an expert in my field.   Fear that I would make a fool of myself…well, that actually happens on a daily basis.  But it’s ok.  I recover and move on.  If that should happen, if I should reveal a flaw, reveal that I am indeed a human being, it would only serve to solidify my connection with the audience. 

With this new perspective in mind, I chose to lead from the heart and to connect with the audience by sharing a genuine part of myself, even if that meant that I might stumble along the way. 

In the days leading up to the event, I did find myself wrestling with the temptation to draft my talk as I had done in the past.  I mean, the people attending paid to come and I wanted them to get something out of it.  I did not want to insult them by looking ill prepared.  I wavered and thought that I should just forget this little experiment and write out and rehearse my talk. 

But rather than give in, I stayed true to my intention and let the anxious thoughts wash over me.  I chose instead to just observe my own process. And in fact my  internal battle was actually a little amusing. 

However, I did not ignore the anxiety gremlin entirely.  I did have to do something to prepare.  And so I struck a compromise:  I would draft a brief outline with the main points I wanted to communicate.  Nothing more.

I decided to dedicate my 6 minutes at the mic describing why I am so passionate about my work as a psychologist.  I wanted them to understand how privileged I feel to be able to witness and support the human spirit in each client I see, regardless of whether they are suffering or aspiring for something more.  I wanted each person to walk away with the understanding that seeing a counselor or a psychologist is not about weakness, it is about assuming control to Design Your Life.

myspeech wide shot (1)

The day of the event was like any other Saturday filled with making meals, working out, cleaning up and taking advantage of some time to take a blessed nap.  I arrived at the event early and while I spoke with my fellow presenters and then the guests as they arrived, I found that I was not nervous. 

The only time a felt a bit anxious was while listening to the presenter just before I was to go on.  This was largely because I was trying to review the main points of what I wanted to say in my head but could not do it effectively while also trying to listen.  Recognizing the futility of this form of last minute preparation, I gave up on trying and focused on listening to Dennis and his honest and heart felt talk on the benefits of connecting with people outside of one’s typical social circles.  Dennis finished to resounding applause; a hard act to follow.  It was now my turn.

To quote one of the participants I “..nailed it”.  As I spoke about the privileged role I have of witnessing and empowering the human spirit, I could see… or rather I could feel that the audience was with me.  I was able to make eye contact and take in their smiles of encouragement as I scanned the room.  It was actually really great.

The comments that various audience members provided me with all the validation I needed for my new approach.  All of them expressed feeling moved.  I had succeeded.

Not only had I made a connection, but I proved to myself that fear was not necessary for me to perform well.  I could listen to my anxiety as a sign for the need to prepare without letting fear take over and push me into obsessiveness.  I could keep focused on my own goals, show up, and let the process unfold.

I tried it and now I am sold.  There is no going back. 

How about you? Is there any way that these ideas could fit for your life?

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Dr. Stacy


Self-care. It’s about time.

 

Hello.  Welcome to my blog.

I chose today, July 24, 2015, to publish my first post because it is a great day.  Not just because it’s Friday and the weather here in Toronto is spectacular.  Believe it or not, according to Health Canada, today is “International Self-Care Day”.

Ahh…self-care.  A topic close to my heart, and one that invariably comes up as an issue for most of my clients at some point over the course of treatment.

First, what is self-care?  Self care is just as it sounds.  Taking the time to take care of one’s self.   This can mean a variety of things.  It could mean following through with that resolution to quit smoking. Or, it could mean taking the time to eat lunch without trying to do something else at the same time.  It might mean going to bed early rather than finishing another load of laundry.  Or maybe it is about locking the bathroom door and taking a shower while someone else looks after the baby for a while.

What would you do to improve your self-care?  Whatever it is, now is the time to stop putting it off and to start doing it.

Here is a revolutionary idea: experiment with putting your needs first for a day and see what happens.

Now, you will need to do some planning. It is not realistic to just drop everything to go get a manicure.   But what if that manicure, yoga class, lunch with a friend, or walk by the lake (fill in restorative activity here), became a priority rather than something you will do if you can fit it in after you’ve taken care of everything and everyone else?

If you actually made self-care a priority, you might find that you start making different choices.  You might start to re-evaluate the urgency of some tasks.  You might start to consider whether some things could be delegated to others.

The process of negotiating time for yourself may also require learning new skills in order to effectively communicate your needs to your significant others and enlist their cooperation in your plan.

For me, my time for self-care is between 6 and 8 am, Monday to Friday. Whether I am sweating like crazy in a spinning class or running by the lake, that time is mine for taking care of my body and spirit.  It allows me to burn off some of the negative energy that I absorb through my work, clears my head, and allows me to feel energized.

My morning workouts have become precious to me.  I have to do this for myself. Otherwise, I literally become a less pleasant person to be around.  I don’t sleep well, which leads to me being irritable, less focused and overall not the person I want to be.

To do this, my family has had to make some accommodations, which often means that my partner has to wake up far earlier than he would like.  He absolutely hates waking up early.  But he also appreciates the fact that I need this for my own physical and mental health.  And I love him dearly for his support.   Ultimately, my routine has become part of the routine for my household.

When we start talking about prioritizing self-care, people often express concern about being perceived as “selfish”. It’s not selfish, it is just being responsible.  There is absolutely nothing selfish about taking ownership for one’s own health and well being. Besides, those around you are sure to benefit.  It is far easier to give to others when the tank is full rather than depleted.

So there it is.  I have given you the argument.  Now it is your turn to put these ideas into action and make it happen.  No more excuses.  Besides, it’s International Self-Care Day!

Enjoy.

Until next time…

Dr. Stacy