Thursday, April 27, 2017

Self Care Bestie: Ask Your Bestie




Hello, hello!!  I'm so excited today because this post...as in the one you are currently reading is my 100th!!  

Yay! I tend to fly by the seat of my pants sometimes and I know five months ago when I started this blog my loved ones were super excited for me, but they also maybe were thinking:  is she going to stick with it?  To be honest, I was wondering the same thing at first. 

But I'm so thankful I have and truly, I have enjoyed learning the ropes of blogging, though I know I still have a long way to go! I'm still excited every time I get to write a post.  I still squeal with delight when I feel I may have written something that is helpful or resonates with someone.  And I still feel like this is something I should keep going with, despite how little I know about tech-y stuff.  

This is my place to combine my passions for therapy and writing. This is my place to create and be vulnerable.  It's thrilling and scary and I love it.  

I have two important things I want to say to you today.  And the first is this:

THANK YOU.  

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  Thanks for reading and encouraging me and sticking around or just stopping by.  I'm seriously so honored you have.  

Ok, now this is starting to sound the slightest bit like an Academy Awards acceptance speech, so I'll just stop there.  

The next bit of news is one I am super pumped about!  I have decided to start an ongoing series called "Ask Your Bestie."  I started this blog as a way to hopefully help some people, so I thought it might be cool to have you email me your questions (I will keep everything I receive completely anonymous).  It can be any question you might want to ask a psychotherapist about something you or a loved one are struggling with, or just something you have been curious about.  Really, the sky's the limit.  So if you are interested, please email me:  cbearsecounseling@gmail.com. I'm hoping some of you will take me up on this...otherwise you might be getting answers to fake questions my mom will send in just so I have something to blog about.  #momsarethebest

Well there you have it, Besties!  I can't wait to see what the next five months and 100 posts will bring!  Thanks for journeying with me!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

4 Easy Ways to Kick Your Stress To The Curb



Greetings, my friends!  I hope all of you are having easy, breezy, stress-free days.  But for those of you who may be finding yourselves with a to-do list a mile long and not enough hours in the day to complete it (I hear you!), this post is for you.  It's so easy to let stress consume us at times.  Nobody likes feeling overwhelmed, but what's a busy Bestie to do when you feel like you can hardly keep your head above water?

For one thing, don't panic.  I know that may be easier said than done, but truth be told...it just makes things worse.  Take a deep breath and follow these easy steps to take care of business and yourself.  

1.  Have a system.  Whether you favor a traditional to-do list, your planner, or your phone for organizing your tasks, be consistent. Keep a running list of things you have to do, and keep them all in one place.  Personally, I like writing my tasks down on individual Post-its and throwing them away once I finish that task.  There's just something so cathartic about throwing it away when I'm done. Plus also, there's something cathartic about Post-its.  Am I right?

Cross things off, delete them, or throw them away as you get things done.  Add new tasks as you think of them.  Yes, you will probably be continually adding things to your list, but you will also be continually accomplishing things.  You'll feel way more motivated the more you accomplish, so you likely won't be bothered when you have to add another task to your list.  Especially if you get to write it on a Post-it.

2.  Begin with something.  Anything.  A lot of people have no problem writing their tasks down, but when they see a huge list in front  of them, that's when they start to stress.  If this sounds familiar, take heart.  There are lots of different ways to approach your list, and there's really no right or wrong way.  Here are a few suggestions:  Order your tasks from the most to least urgent.  Begin with the hardest task.  Begin with the easiest task, or the task that takes the least amount of time.  Alphabetize your list of tasks and go through them that way.  Still not sure where to start?  You can assign each task a number and put the numbers into a randomizer, letting your to-do list be ordered for you.  It really doesn't matter which way you choose, as long as you don't spend forever deciding what to do first.  Choose your first task, and get a move on!

3.  Focus on one thing at a time.  Mindfulness is always important, but it becomes especially important when you are feeling stressed.  When your to-do list feels daunting, consider the task at the top of your list and nothing else. Focus completely on that.  Once you complete that task, you can start thinking about the next one. Many people feel that multi-tasking is a better way to get things accomplished, but research actually proves the opposite.  Don't believe me?  Try calling me as I'm walking into the grocery store sometime! ;) Our brains are amazing machines, but they are not so hot at tackling more than one task at a time.  We move much more quickly and efficiently when we focus our attention on just the task at hand.  

4.  Schedule in some self care.  I know, I know, I say this all the time.  But that's because it's so, so important.  You may think you're too busy for rest or self care, but ignoring your needs for rest and relaxation, creativity, and play is just a plain ol' recipe for disaster. You were made to work and get things done and accomplish great things.  But you were also made for rest and comfort and joy.  Please don't make the mistake of thinking you are too busy for self care.  You aren't. I'm not. Nobody is.  It's simply a matter of priority.  

Have you been prioritizing yourself lately?  If not, there's no better time to start than the present.  Why not take a look at your week and schedule in some self care?  I even made you a delightful weekly self care printable that you can use for freeeeee just by subscribing via email in the sidebar over there ----------------------->

If you prefer, try adding a few self care items to your to do list and reward yourself for all that hard work you've been doing.  Self care is something that absolutely reduces stress, and practicing it regularly can prevent a major buildup of it.  Trust your Bestie about this, will ya?  Self care's kind of my thing.

Do you have any other tried and true ways to kick stress to the curb?  What's your favorite form of self care?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Bestie Finds: Morning Magic

Bestie Finds:  Morning Magic



I love mornings - I'm an early bird by nature.  I love the promise of a new day and the first breath of fresh air I get to take.  But I know not all of my Besties may feel the same way, and there's no shame in that.  But we all have to wake up sometime...and with today's Bestie finds, you just might want to.  Today's picks are all about adding a little magic to your morning, whether you love 'em or hate 'em.  The secret is giving yourself something fun to look forward to in the morning, be it drinking your coffee from a cute cup, spending a little relaxing time coloring, or taking the time to pamper yourself a bit.  Which of today's picks do you think are worth waking up  early for?


Unicorn travel mug - Perhaps you've noticed that unicorns are really having a moment right now.  So what if they didn't make it onto the arc?  They're at Starbucks, influencing fashion, and now...your morning cup of joe.  


Master plan notebook - One of the first things I reach for every morning is one of my journals...yes I usually have more than one going at once. Why not add some journaling to your morning routine?  It's a great way to set intentions and begin with gratitude.


Alllll the Sharpies - Coloring can be so relaxing and it gives you a chance to create something, even if you don't consider yourself the least bit artsy...I can relate!  Morning is a great time to carve out some space for creativity.


Super fun makeup brushes - I'm a sucker for anything aqua, but I think we can agree...aren't these makeup brushes so great?  They may be just the thing to actually make you excited to get up and at 'em in the am.  


Bentonite clay mask - Have you all tried a bentonite clay mask yet?  ALL the beauty bloggers are raving about them...you mix the clay with apple cider vinegar and apply to your face.  Minutes later, your skin is poreless and basically perfect!  Can I get an Am Amen?!


Secret Garden Coloring Book - We already discussed how great coloring is, and here is the perfect coloring book to get started!  It's pages are thick stock so if you're more of a sharpie than colored pencil person, you're good to go.  



Hallelujah Anyway - I have become the hugest Anne Lamott fan lately, so I had to share her new book.  The subtitle is "rediscovering mercy."  I love that.  What better way to start your day than with a book that inspires you to be merciful to others...and yourself as well. 



I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com .  All opinions expressed are my own and I never recommend a product unless I truly love it!

Monday, April 24, 2017

9 Quotes That Will Help You Believe in Miracles



Last week I shared this Albert Einstein quote on Instagram:

"There are two ways to live; as if nothing is a miracle, or as if everything is a miracle." 

I know I want to be in the latter camp.  There is so much that I have seen that helps me believe that anything is possible.  I have watched extremely sick loved ones make a full recovery, when all the medical professionals thought it was not possible.  I have seen two sweet boys start out as tiny as a little bean on a screen and grow into two amazing, unique boys with distinct personalities and capabilities.  I have seen us somehow pay our bills in times when our bank account declared we would not.  I have grown to love people who I started out not even liking.  In my opinion, life is full of miracles.

But sometimes those miracles feel few and far between.  If you 're like me, you can sometimes have a short memory for those seemingly impossible blessings.  Sometimes we find ourselves in a cold sweat, with no end in sight, and it feels like our rescue will never come.  

Friends, the rescue will come.  It may not be right away; it may not even be anytime soon.  It may not come the way we expected it would.  But keep the faith; keep believing.  Just for today, you will have what you need.

Should you find yourself in that waiting place, here are eight more quotes that will hopefully inspire and encourage you to believe in miracles.  They truly do happen every day.

"Believe in your heart that you're meant to live a life full of passion, purpose, magic and miracles." - Roy T. Bennett

"Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see." - C.S. Lewis

"You have to see miracles for there to be miracles." - Jandy Nelson

"Each moment of worry, anxiety or stress represents lack of faith in miracles, for they never cease." - T.F. Hodge

"To live at all is miracle enough." - Mervyn Peake

"There are days when I think I don't believe anymore.  When I think I've grown too old for miracles.  And that's right when another seems to happen." - Dana Reinhardt

"Even miracles take a little time." - Cinderella

"Where there is great love, there are always miracles." - Willa Cather



Friday, April 21, 2017

Why Hiking Rocks...And My 4 Fave Trails



How's that picture for a happy Friday view?  Yes, my Besties, that's the gorgeous Grand Canyon, circa 2008.  My husband and I decided to go see what all the fuss was about on my grad school spring break.  Needless to say, we were not disappointed.  The Grand Canyon is one of those places where you feel like you can't look everywhere you want all at once.  It is a place you go, and without being able to help it, you marvel.  

In addition to being absolutely breathtaking, our Grand Canyon visit was the first place I discovered hiking, or rather my enjoyment of it.  I grew up rather indoorsy, and I struggle to this day with a desire to be outdoorsy, despite my lack of outdoorsy skills. Thankfully, I'm married to a very outdoorsy guy, who has broadened my horizons, and given me an appreciation for a good hike, and all the wonders nature has to offer.  

Hiking has become a favorite activity of mine, even though we don't get to do it as often as we would like.  I especially love hiking in a new place, seeing animals (except snakes, duh), and just breathing in the fresh air.  All of which fall under the umbrella of self care, I might add.

So today I'm sharing my favorite hikes with the hopes that it might inspire some of my Besties to get outside and get out of your comfort zone, should you happen to be naturally a more indoorsy-type.  

Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon National Park - I mean...holy WOW is all I can say about this one.  This is a trail from the top of the South Rim of the canyon alllllll the way down to the bottom. We did it all in one day.  PSYCH!  Yeah RIGHT.  I know my husband wishes we would have, but come on...baby steps.  We did hike 2.5 miles down into the canyon, stopped and had a picnic lunch, and then hiked 2.5 miles back up.  You might be thinking that's only a 5 mile hike...NBD.  Well let me just say, 2.5 miles down ain't nothin, but 2.5 miles BACK UP...is a very, very, big deal...at least it was for me! (We did pass some hooligans who were on their way back up from hiking all the way down and back up in one day - overachievers!)  It was just gorgeous though, with the views of the canyon changing at every turn.  Seriously, I found myself stopping every few minutes to catch my breath take pictures.  When we reached the rim again, my husband and I were all high fives and hugs because, well...I didn't die.  And also, that. was. awesome.  

Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park - Initially I was afraid to do this walk (not because of the elevation...The Everglades is a straight up swamp, all of which is situated below sea level)...but because I was worried I would see snakes.  The struggle is real, my Besties.  Thankfully, I saw zero...but I saw about a zillion alligators and that was so, so fun.  They just hang out everywhere and it feels like you shouldn't be able to get that close to them, but you do...and again, you live to tell the tale.  My husband laughed at me because I took about a thousand pictures of alligators without even realizing it...ahem, this was in the days before smartphones.  If you love warm weather, reptiles, and easy walks, the Anhinga Trail is for you.  

Cadillac North Ridge Trail, Acadia National Park - If you have never been to Acadia National Park, you must go.  In the words of Ferris Bueller, "If you have the means, I highly recommend it." Even if you don't like hiking, it is just stunning.  One of my favorite things about it was the smell...salty ocean air + piney forests = ahhhhmazing.  Another highlight were the glorious views from Cadillac Mountain.  Full disclosure, we had our kids with us so we didn't hike the entire North Ridge Trail (or even close to it), but we did a fair amount of walking and looking and picture taking.  My husband has a list of like four other hikes he wants to do in Acadia, but when we don't have a six and three year old to keep away from ledges.  They're cute, but mama had a few heart palpitations with her babes up on those ledges.  

Brandywine Gorge Trail, Cuyahoga Valley National Park - Here, I am paying homage to my roots.  I grew up in Ohio, not far from Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Brandywine Falls was a favorite spot for almost everyone I knew.  This trail is short (about 1.5 miles) and much of it is a boardwalk, providing an easy way to access the deep gorge cut by the 65 foot falls.  I know I'm biased, but it really is a beautiful spot.

My husband and I are already planning our next big adventures: Shenandoah National Park this summer with our boys, and the Kalalau Trail in Na Pali Coast State Park (that's in Hawaii, y'all! Woot woot!!) in 2018...without them.  ;)

Tell us your favorite hiking spots in the comments!  Have a great weekend, my friends!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Silence Your Inner Critic With This Playlist




I hope you are having a great week so far!  It's been a bit of a rough one for us, as 3/4 of my household has battled with a stomach bug...Mama is the only one yet to be stricken - and you can bet I'm praying with all my might that this germ-nado passes me by! In addition, my house is a hot mess as I find myself racing from one person to the next trying to make sure they throw up in the right place or have ice for their beverages of choice.  

Thankfully, everyone is now on the mend, but it's times like these when that nagging little critic in my head seems to be saying: Look at that laundry pile!  Girl, you got PROBLEMS.  You can't possibly do everything that needs to get done today.  Plus also there ain't enough dry shampoo in the world that can take care of THAT hair today.

It just occured to me that my critic sounds a little bit like Clinton on What Not To Wear.

But I digress.  If you, like me have ever heard that not-so-nice voice criticizing you, fear not.  I've put together a playlist to help us snap out of it and say BYE, FELICIA (or Clinton or whoever).  Put this playlist on and kiss those bad vibes goodbye!

1. Firework - Katy Perry
2. What Makes You Beautiful - One Direciton
3. Drive - Incubus
4. Love Song - Sara Barellis 
5. Gold To Me - Ben Harper
6. Happy - Pharrell Williams
7. Just The Way You Are - Bruno Mars
8. Hey Jude - The Beatles
9. New Soul - Yael Naim
10. Beautiful - Christina Aguilera
11. We Are Only Getting Better - Joshua Radin
12. Change Your Mind - Sister Hazel
13. Landslide - Stevie Nicks
14. Unpretty - TLC
15. Upside Down - Jack Johnson



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The 3 Rules of Healthy Arguments



I've said it before, and I'll say it again...healthy relationships are part of self care.  When we learn how to foster relationships that thrive,  we feel happier, more joyful, and more content.  When we can communicate openly, honestly and lovingly with our friends and family, we open the door for deep connection. We can be vulnerable, imperfect, authentic, and still belong.  It's pretty wonderful.

The reality is, though relationships have the potential to bring us tremendous joy, they can be tremendously difficult at times.  Given that a relationship forms when two completely imperfect people making some sort of commitment to each other, it makes sense, right?    

So how can we keep our relationships as healthy as possible when conflict arises?  Is there a way to handle arguments so they don't leave us (or someone we love) feeling completely wrecked?

It just so happens that there is.  And your Self Care Bestie just happens to be a psychotherapist who helps people resolve conflict all the time.  It's kind of my jam, actually.  Here are the three main rules to follow when you find yourself in the throes of an argument:

Know why you're upset.  This is seriously 3/4 of the battle, Besties.  Often people think they know what is upsetting them in an argument, but many times, there is more to the story.  And honestly, many times, they turn out to be wrong.  

For example, a wife might express anger at her husband because he asked to reschedule their date night from this weekend to next due to a conflict he just found out about.  The wife is frustrated and yells at her husband that they can just forget about date night.  She goes to her room and starts crying.  Why?  She's not crying because she's angry.  She's crying because she's thinking:  This is the second time he's done this in the last few months.  Date night obviously isn't as important to him as it is to me.  I would never treat him this way.  He's choosing something else over me...again.  It hurts so much that I'm not his top priority.

Now that she's had some time to think about it, it seems the wife is actually feeling significantly hurt because she feels she is not important to her husband.  Anger often rears up because it's protective.  It's easier to say "I'm angry" than "I'm hurt."  Feeling hurt is way, way more vulnerable.  But 90%  of anger is actually hurt in disguise.  And when we know what it is we're actually feeling and why, we can communicate in a much healthier way.  

I recommend using a thought record for this.  The next time you find yourself arguing (or bitterly resenting someone in your thoughts), go ahead dig a little deeper.  Fill out a thought record and see if you can determine they why behind the what you are feeling. I use them with clients all the time to help them become objective observers of what they are feeling rather than letting themselves become flooded by their emotions.  Trust me, we are way more effective communicators when we are objective. 

Know your goal.  There are typically three things people want when they are arguing with someone.  One is to accomplish your objective, be it to get your way in the matter, or to change the other person's future behavior, or perhaps get them to agree with you. The second thing people want is to maintain their self respect.  No one wants to feel ashamed after an argument, be it because you totally lost your temper, or because you let someone berate you.  And finally, people typically want to maintain the relationship.  We don't want every argument we have to end in severing ties completely with people we love.  

Ideally, we would be able to have all three of these things happen for us every time we disagree with someone.  But the truth is, you can reasonably expect to get 2 out of the 3.  There must be a degree of compromise after all, unless you truly don't mind if the person you are arguing with never talks to you again.  In which case, you would still only be getting 2 out of 3.

Before you have a difficult conversation (or during it, if you can remember), ask yourself which 2 are most important to you.  When you go forward knowing that you aren't always going to get everything your way 100% of the time, you are much more likely to handle conflict in a way that both parties are ok with.  

Know your limits.  If we're being honest, we all have our limits.  We all have triggers, things that people say or do that can take us from 0 to 120 in two seconds or less.  Mine is when someone tells me to "calm down."  I can't even.  I'd much rather someone say, "You seem upset.  What can I do to help?"  But nobody's perfect.  Nor does everyone have a social work degree.  I get that.

 So when we are feeling flooded by emotion, like we might just lose it, the best thing we can do is walk away before we say or do something we might later regret.  You can tell the person you are arguing with that you need some space but you want to finish the conversation later.  Try not to just storm off angrily, as this sends the message that you don't want to hear what they are saying and/or you don't care about the conversation (or them) enough to resolve things.  

Arguing is no fun.  I think we can all agree on that.  But arguments don't have to ruin us or our relationships either.  If you have any additional ways to have healthier arguments, feel free to leave them in the comments.  I'd love to hear from you!


 

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