Copy of Self-Care Guilt- How Does it Impact You?

I’m storytelling in this one, in hopes that some of you may be able to identify some harmful patterns in your own lives that you’re absolutely able to take control of now!

So, in last week’s blog post we discussed the difference between self-love and self-care. Today I want to piggyback on those ideas and discuss the unspoken guilt about self-care in our society.

            I don’t know about you, but I know that in the past when I’ve needed a day off from work or school for the purpose of preserving my own mental health, I’ve had to lie. Is it not just as important to ensure that my mind and spirit are healthy, the way I would need to ensure my body was healthy before returning to life as usual after the flu or a cold? I recall never being able to understand this even as a teenager, and was disappointed to see that it carried through my years in college, graduate school, and every job I’ve ever had (even while working in the mental health field!). While I certainly had some bosses who would have been more than understanding if I had just said I needed a mental health day (and some were- one would even set an example and take a mental health day now and again), I still had coworkers, clients, or upper-level administration whom would not have been so gracious. This often made me feel as though I needed validation from others that I was “ill enough” to justify missing a shift at work. This got me thinking- why should I be putting work ahead of my own well-being, especially when I’m preaching self-care to my clients?

            This is the depth of disregard for mental health and self-care our work has. I know everyone’s experience is their own, but I’ll go ahead and use myself as an example hoping that others can relate. The day-to-day reality of internalized shame patterns around my own self-care looked something like this: 

·     Ignore and repress my own feelings until they reached a boiling point, at which time I would have a meltdown. This would often result in me not taking good care of myself until I got sick or injured, which was essentially my body trying to get my attention and tell me I needed to slow down.

·     Completely shut down for a day or two, because I couldn’t focus on anything else, but I wasn’t doing anything to recharge either.

·     While I was in that shut down state, I wasn’t even able to fully recharge my battery because I was vacillating between checking out and being anxious about the things I wasn’t doing because I just didn’t have the energy or mental capacity. My body, mind, and soul felt completely separate from each other and I had no clue how to begin bringing them back together and restoring a sense of normalcy. I thus would sink further into helplessness, which just made me want to shut down more. It would also take significantly more energy to repress whatever emotions were coming up, which they were more often because I was so burnt out.

·      I thus became irritable, and got to a point where I didn’t know what to do with myself outside of work. I allowed people to treat me in ways I didn’t deserve to be treated, because I was too exhausted and shut off from myself to demand or seek something better. The actions of those people just reinforced my belief that something was wrong with me. And guess what? Something WAS wrong with me. Guilt and negative self-beliefs were getting in the way of engaging in useful, productive self-care.

 

With a significant amount of my own work in therapy and dharma school, meeting with life and business coaches, biting the bullet and getting out of toxic work environments and into self-employment, a daily yoga practice, breaks from social media, reading, audiobooks/podcasts, and regular journaling and meditation, I’ve been able to engage in much better self-care. But it was not overnight, and it was in spite of the cultural messages I was receiving about self-care both at work and outside of work. To most of my friends throughout my twenties, “self-care” looked like thinly veiled binge drinking or just checking out on Netflix for hours and taking naps. While these things can sometimes help us shut our brains off to recharge, I couldn’t do it all the time. I knew I needed more.

            This is an invitation to you to pay attention to your own self-care: is it actually recharging you? What messages are your receiving in your daily life about self-care? Are they congruent with your values around self-care? While it’s certainly noble to work hard and make ends meet, there’s no glory in completely draining yourself and becoming irritable and reactive towards the people around you, or withdrawing into victimhood. This means you’re hurting people by lashing out at them, and hurting the community by not sharing your gifts.

            If you’re a woman who is local to Central CT and want to change your self-care, January 2019 is the time for you! I will be running a six-week Goddess group designed around the Goddess archetypes, how they apply to the modern woman, and how women can come together in community. We will specifically be addressing how self-care guilt is culturally passed on to women in the USA, and how to make small mindset/realistic lifestyle changes to live a life connected to purpose. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact me directly at rebecca@mhccholistichealth.hush.com.

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

What is Holism?

Holism is a word that is starting to sound like some sort of fad, and it doesn’t seem very clear other than the fact that it flies in the face of some Western treatment models. I hope to provide some actually useful information to help you decide what holism looks like in your life.

 

According to Dictionary.com, holism is “the theory that parts of a whole are in intimate interconnection, such that they cannot exist independently of the whole, or cannot be understood without reference to the whole, which is thus regarded as greater than the sum of its parts. Holism is often applied to mental states, language, and ecology. In medicine: the treating of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the physical symptoms of a disease.”

 

This is a term that is starting to become popular in behavioral health treatment as the USA begins to recognize a need to integrate the various, interwoven components of health to understand and conceptualize symptoms/complaints/health in a newer, more complete way. It often means that providers are looking to meet the client where they are at, whether that means wanting/needing western medications, and doing whatever they can to help the client heal themselves. This can mean, in behavioral health, having conversations about spiritual health as well as mental/emotional/physical, and exhausting all options before referring clients for medication evaluations, unless they require such. It means providers are challenging themselves to collaborate with clients on mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, and financial levels to ensure optimal health and healing. It may mean energy healing, spiritual healing, acupuncture, referrals for massage/non-traditional therapies, dietary changes, and encouraging a yoga/meditation/sound healing regimen. It may sound like “woo woo” therapies, or considering some of the medicinal uses of cannabis/CBD oil/vitamins/herbs, consulting astrological charts, or self-help books as well to supplement. 

 

If you’re not sure what holism looks like for you, contact me directly! We can have a discussion about what you feel is missing, and whether counseling or coaching can help fill those gaps.

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

March is Social Media Awareness Month- Week 3

The last two weeks I have been talking about many of the negative aspects of social media, including harmful comments people make, comparing ourselves to other people’s highlight reels, and being inauthentic with our own social media personas. We have challenged ourselves to be more mindful with how we use social media. There are also many gifts that social media can offer us. I am connected to many professional groups related to my various fields though Facebook, and I learn so many new things every day. I find myself inspired by the relatively easy connection to other professionals in my field, who have such fantastic ideas. I also have a personal Instagram account, and I love it for the fact that I can curate most of the content I see and I can be open to all kinds of different inspiration from yoga accounts, silly comedy accounts, artistic accounts, music accounts, etc.

So this week, I want to challenge you to think about the accounts you’re following. Are they inspiring you? Are they leading you down a road that feels like it’s worth your time? If not, what can you get rid of? What do you want to make room for? What emotions are being evoked when you see this content? What do you feel in your body when taking in this content? How will it impact the way you connect with the physical world? If you don't have a car or positive answer for any of these, what would it take to stop following this content?

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

March is Social Media Awareness Month at MHCC and The Nest!

March is Social Media Awareness Challenge Month at MHCC and The Nest!

At MHCC/The Nest, we’re declaring March the first annual social media awareness month. This month, we will be addressing the harmful impacts of social media, ways to mitigate these impacts, healthy social media diet, and we will also be providing various recommendations for inspirational and informative social media accounts to follow.

            Social media has a deleterious impact on overall emotional well-being. Just scroll through the comments on any public image, video, or article circulating outside of your friend group, and I can guarantee it’s a parade of partially or ill-informed people bashing each other. Society seems to forget that human beings with actual feelings are reading this. Reacist, sexist, homo/transphobic comments about, making it difficult to speak up on issues that may be important to us or the ones we love.

            Social media, by-and-large, seems to squash individuality in favor of conformity to the status quo. People arguing in the comments sections appear hell-bent on conformity or trying to get other parties to think exactly as they do. There is no respectful discourse. Others try to set themselves apart as individuals, and when they go viral, the general public immediately sets to work at imitating or tearing down, rather than creating and being open to inspiration.

            People are less and less connected with each other, and I can’t tell you how many times I go out to restaurants and see entire families scrolling social media rather than connecting to and conversing with each other. It’s almost as if they don’t value each others’ time. We’re all a step removed from each other and use screens as an interface between ourselves and the world. This causes us to have increases in depression, due to unprecedented isolation, and anxiety if we can’t see exactly what others are doing all the time. Because we’re only exposed to the highlight reels in Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat stories, we assume the people behind those stories live those perfect lives 24/7. This creates an issue of comparing ourselves to others, especially celebrities, worse than ever before. Or, one of my favorites, the people with terrible boundaries who share every single moment of the day, when they would never share anything so ridiculous about themselves in the days before social media.

            My call to action for you this week is to take notice of the social media intake you have each day. How much time are you spending on social media apps and sites? How much time are you feeling like you’re really wasting on social media? What would you like to be doing instead? If you didn’t have social media for a whole year, what do you think you could accomplish? Is there a way to compromise? How do you feel about the main accounts you’re following- do they bring you closer to your goals? Journal on these questions, and try to find out exactly what you were looking to get out of following those accounts, and what you’re actually getting out of following them.

In Solidarity, 

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Questions to Ask Yourself to Find Out if Therapy/Coaching are Working For You

It can be challenging to let others in on your problems, goals, and your own perceived shortcomings in making them happen. Here is a small list of thought-provoking questions to help you determine if the process of therapy, or life coaching, is working for you.

 

Is this person hearing me?How do they show it? How do I perceive someone hearing me? Are their behaviors consistent with what I expect?

Is this person genuine? How do I find myself responding physically and emotionally to their energy?

Is this person aligning with/aware of my goals? What skills are they showing in helping me to get there?

Am I noticing changes in myself and the world?

Are their recommendations and support helping me to feel empowered outside of our sessions?

Do I feel as though I can safely share the most difficult moments of my life and the worst things I have ever believed about myself with this person? If not, what is it that feels like it’s getting in the way?

Can I be fully honest with this person?

Are they pushing me by challenging me, or are they just checking in and hearing me vent?  If the latter, is this because they want me to keep coming back for their own secondary gains, or is it because I’m hesitant to go deeper? What would help me feel safer to go deeper?

Is this person acting like they are more of an expert in my life than I am? Do I feel that they can recognize and value my strengths, skills, and struggles?It goes against most therapy and life coach teachings for the coach or therapist to act as if they are the expert in their clients’ daily lives and challenges, so if their ego is getting in the way of your work, it’s time to either confront them or find someone new.

What evaluations and methods are they using? Are they taking the time to properly educate me on them? How do I know they’re working?

How will I know that I have reached my goals?Are my own expectations and benchmarks matching up with theirs? Have we had this conversation?

Do they take the time to educate themselves on things that are important/relevant to me, or do they expect me to constantly be the one educating them?

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Friday Feature: Lauri Weber, MFT, LADC

Does Addiction REALLY Affect The Family?

As a LADC and a Marriage and Family Therapist, specializing in addiction and families, I found this article Spot On!!! The devastation can be multigenerational whether its active addiction or a family history of addiction. The layers of anger, hurt, shame, guilt, resentment and depression (to name a few) run deep. Every family member can be affected differently, depending on their role and there are 6 of them:

Addict: Individual struggling with substance abuse live in a constant state of chaos. Alcohol becomes the primary way to cope with problems and difficult feelings, and in turn, he or she will stop at nothing to supply this need. As a result, they burn bridges, lie, and manipulate those around them. They isolate and angrily blame others for their problems. It comes as no surprise that their actions create negative effects for the entire family; they can’t seem to focus on anything other than the next drink.

Enabler: Deny, deny, deny – this is an enabler’s M.O. The goal of this role is to smooth things over within the family. In order to “protect” the family, enablers convince themselves that alcohol isn’t a problem and, in order to make light of a serious situation, they make excuses for their loved one’s behavior. While the enabler is most often a spouse, this role can also be taken on by a child.

Hero: The family hero is your typical Type A personality: a hard-working, overachieving perfectionist. Through his or her own achievements, the hero tries to bring the family together and create a sense of normalcy. This role is usually taken on by the eldest child, as they seek to give hope to the rest of the family. Unfortunately, a driving need to “do everything right” tends to put an extreme amount of pressure on the hero, leaving them highly anxious and susceptible to stress-related illnesses later in life.

Scapegoat: The scapegoat is just what you would expect: the one person who gets blamed for the whole family’s problems. This role tends to be taken on by the second oldest child; he or she offers the family a sense of purpose by providing someone else to blame. They voice the family’s collective anger, while shielding the addicted parent from a lot of blame and resentment. When scapegoats get older, males tend to act out in violence, while females often run away or participate in promiscuous sex.

Mascot: Think of the mascot as the class clown, always trying to deflect the stress of the situation by supplying humor. This role is usually taken on by the youngest child; they’re fragile, vulnerable, and desperate for the approval of others. Providing comic relief is also the mascot’s defense against feeling pain and fear himself. Mascots often grow up to self-medicate with alcohol, perpetuating the cycle of addiction.

Lost Child: The lost child role is usually taken on by the middle or youngest child. They’re shy, withdrawn, and sometimes thought of as “invisible” to the rest of the family. They don’t seek (or get) a lot of attention from other family members, especially when alcoholism is present within the family. Lost children put off making decisions, have trouble with forming intimate relationships, and choose to spend time on solitary activities as a way to cope.

 

In addition to these Roles, Claudia Black wrote about The Family Rules:

DON’T TALK, DON’T FEEL, DON’T TRUST!!!!

These rules are Very Covert and Rarely Spoken About!! Less they need to be as Addiction in the Family is similar to a Very Defined, Highly Orchestrated SILENT Dance. Each Family member has inherently learned when to step in, step out, bring in or let out another member. At any one moment their dance will consist of 2, 3 or more members. If you learn to look closely you will witness first hand negative feedback loops as well as first order change.

 

By The Fix staff 10/31/17

Alcohol and drug addiction can rot families from the inside. Many people never see it coming, either. Strong, seemingly unbreakable bonds can suddenly (and without warning) become soft, brittle and broken.

Addiction isn’t something that happens once and then it’s suddenly over and done with. Sadly, that’s just not how it works. It’s not isolated to one event, nor is it tied to a single person. Addiction can smolder or simmer for years, hidden and unacknowledged. Then again, it can also be a shockwave in how it destroys families, reverberating for many years to come. It’s important to understand not only the devastating effect that addiction has on families, but what options are available for family members to cope, survive and persevere. When someone is struggling with an addiction, they aren’t moving forward with their lives. They’re stuck in the same place. Truth be told, everyone around them is stuck, too. Addiction affects every single person in the family in different, unpredictable ways. 

Addiction is a disease that doesn’t just affect the person who has it, but absolutely everyone it comes in contact with. It’s as swift as it is patient. Addiction causes instability and uncertainty at every turn, and it can be maddening to try reaching a sense of normalcy.

More often than not, addiction has taken up a lot of time, energy, and attention—so much so that the family becomes a distant priority. As a result, family members can feel resentful, angry, neglected, hurt or, sometimes, jealous of the drug or the drink. Unfortunately, addiction can have the greatest effect on children, damaging them psychologically and emotionally. The effects of alcohol and drug abuse on children can last the rest of their lives, which has a direct impact on everything from their education to their social stability. Homes hit with addiction are unhappy homes. There can be no rules and little to no consistency. Children raised by parents with alcoholism or addiction aren’t just confused and hurt: studies show that they often turn to substance abuse in order to escape their own lives, which only serves to make the problem worse. In other words, addiction can be a never-ending downward spiral for everyone involved.

Marriages don’t escape the blast zone of addiction, either. Many spouses find themselves neglected and ignored when their loved one is drinking or using. It doesn’t help that many people with addiction tend to isolate themselves from everyone and everything. They also sometimes find connections, relationships and satisfaction outside the marriage, which only complicates things—often leading to separation and divorce.

Despite vows to work “through sickness and health,” many marriages just can’t survive the destruction of addiction. For many people, there’s no going back to the way things were before the drinking and drugging started. In those cases, it’s about picking up the pieces and figuring out what there is left to work with, if anything at all.

Addiction also has a very literal cost, too, in that families usually experience great financial strain due to the disease. People in the grip of alcoholism or addiction won’t let anything stand between them and a drink or a drug, so the financial toll can spiral out of control until there’s no coming back. It’s also common for families to be torn apart when someone loses their job thanks to an addiction. Many families get caught in bankruptcy, foreclosure or losing their life savings in order to support a loved one’s addiction.

When it comes right down to it, it’s staggering to discover the negative impact one person can have on so many people. And it’s also important to consider that someone else’s addiction doesn’t affect everyone equally. Family therapy focuses on educating everyone in the family, both young and old, about the disease of addiction and how they can address the problems so they can move toward a place of healing. If nothing else, family therapy isn’t about becoming normal again. It’s about finding a new “normal” and reaching a collective place of calm, peace, and surrender. 

 

Lauri Weber, MFT, LADC is a substance abuse and trauma therapist who specializes in working with addiction and its impact on couples and families. To get in touch with Lauri, contact her at Lauri@mhccholistichealth.hush.com!

Lauri Weber, MFT, LADC is a substance abuse and trauma therapist who specializes in working with addiction and its impact on couples and families. To get in touch with Lauri, contact her at Lauri@mhccholistichealth.hush.com!

Seasonal Affective Disorder Part IV: Hygge!

I am so beyond excited for this part, I’ve actually been looking forward to writing and sharing it for some time. I’m going to have to reign myself in and not ramble on, because I’ve so fallen in love with many aspects of the Hygge lifestyle (especially during those long, dark winter months). 

 

Basically, hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”) is a Danish word and lifestyle, meaning an acknowledgement of a feeling or moment alone or with loved ones, at home or out, as cozy, charming, or special. What the lifestyle has come to mean in recent years is basically the art of getting cozy, in the present moment, and soaking up the warm and positive feeling. While hygge is a mindset to work towards, it does encourage us to think about what actions to take, as well as people and objects to surround ourselves with, in order to feel as cozy and internally warm as possible. 

 

This is the time to indulge in warm, soft sweaters, cozy sweatpants and blankets, muted lighting, cozy socks or slippers, warm and tasty beverages (like my new favorite mushroom vegan hot cocoa), and even a nice mug to drink from.

 

This is the time to enjoy those books you’ve been meaning to read, take on self-improvement projects you’ve been wanting to work on, and to turn inward to find ways to be more comfortable with one-on-one time with yourself.

 

It’s also an excellent time to reconnect with friends and family on a more intimate level. Consider having or attending a small gathering for coffee, a glass of wine, book club, cookie swap, a crochet/quilting group, a card game, or any other activity to help you feel more connected to yourself and others. 

 

Other ideas to connect with a hygge lifestyle: 

            -Bring the outdoors in! This is a major tenet of hygge, because often it’s too cold/dark/the weather is too bad to enjoy nature the way we normally do. As humans, we’re hard-wired to respond positively to nature. Plants recycle energy and oxygen and remind you that things are alive, especially in those late winter months when we’re tired of looking outside at things that appear to be dead or dormant. Add some small plants to your indoor décor where you will see them every day! I also like to have rocks from some favorite places I’ve visited (looking at you, Block Island!), birch coasters, and flowers. It may not seem like much, but nature has a major positive effect on the psyche!

            - Get a fire going or turn up the heat! I have a small space heater that has a faux flame in my office, which adds to the coziness factor, along with the quilts on the walls. Just make sure you’re aware of fire hazards! Sitting next to a fire reading, journaling, or connecting with loved ones feels incredibly intimate and is guaranteed to raise your spirits! Weighted blankets offer warmth and slight pressure that can be extremely comforting for many people, and can even lead to better sleep according to one of my friends who uses one.

 

Since we’re talking about intimacy, it’s time to de-clutter your space. This will help you feel more organized and relaxed, rather than chaotic and trapped inside. What can you get rid of? What is in your way or no longer serving you? If you haven’t used or worn something in six months, is there someone who may get more benefit from it? 

 

It’s also suggested in this Mental Floss article ( http://mentalfloss.com/article/91378/10-ways-master-danish-art-hygge-your-home ) to surround yourself with things that are meaningful to you, rather than mass-produced items. So if you’re reaching for a soft blanket, why not try to make one? Or maybe cover yourself in an afghan or quilt made by a loved one? The item will be associated with memories, which will feel much cozier and more nostalgic.

 

The Mental Floss article further suggests that sharing meals in the winter is an intimate practice that everyone involved benefits from. Have your friends over for a small meal and some warm drinks, or meet them out at a cozy, intimate restaurant with muted lighting, soft music, and a hearty seasonal menu. Put your phones on “Do Not Disturb” and really commit to spending time connecting!

 

Once you start incorporating some of these hacks into your lifestyle, you’ll see why they’re so popular and how the practices can help you to overcome some of the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Who knows? You may even find yourself adopting these practices year-round!

 

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Mindful Monday!

Any of my clients would probably tell you I talk about yoga ad nauseam, especially in regards to trauma-related dissociation. It’s a wonderful way to repair your relationship with your body (and let’s face it, even those of us without severe trauma are probably not very kind to our bodies day-to-day). It calms down our over-stimulated nervous systems and helps us relax and move with intention. Here’s some research supporting the amazing impacts of yoga for your Mindful Monday!

http://time.com/4695558/yoga-breathing-depression/?fbclid=IwAR0ifmPRf3FCsDfljzLU15dZUZYxMTpxcmUkH4loN3T362zfq9dxI7B-Jsw

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

 

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Series Part III: Natural Remedies

In this third part of the four-part series addressing Seasonal Affective Disorder in the winter, I will discuss some things anyone can do to mitigate the severity of SAD symptoms without needing to add medications. If you are already taking medications, these strategies may add to the benefits you may be feeling or looking to feel with your current regimen. 

 

1.)  Natural Light- align your schedule as much as possible with the sun. Wake up at sunrise, or even a little before, and spend the time meditating, stretching your body, moving your body in some other way, or even reading/listening to soft music. I don’t recommend starting your day with the news or scrolling through social media. Take the time to be alone with yourself and appreciate the sunrise before having to launch into your day. Sometimes a nice, warm beverage is great too!

a.    Take every opportunity to expose yourself to sunlight throughout each day. Sit next to windows at work if you can. Take lunch breaks in your car if you must! Bundle up and go for walks or enjoy some light yardwork- anything to give you more access to light!

2.)  Other options for light- amber bulbs, especially those that mimic light are preferable over LED bulbs (link: https://www.amazon.com/MiracleLED-604592-Replacing-Replicate-Organically/dp/B07DB4KWSG/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1542046093&sr=8-4&keywords=amber+light+bulbs+sunrise). They block blue light, which can be harmful for your eyes over time, and send mixed messages to your brain about how awake you should be. 

a.    Happy Lamps or other similar products are inexpensive and are a great idea to expose yourself to some natural-simulation light. I use one to wake up as my alarm clock, and it mimics the gradual light of the sunrise. This means a much more natural wakeup process, so by the time my alarm actually goes off I feel rested and ready to wake up. It’s great for those pre-sunrise workout wakeups! 

(link: https://www.amazon.com/Sunrise-Nature-Sounds-Bedside-Simulator/dp/B07FFW8GPX/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1542046222&sr=8-7&keywords=sunrise+alarm+clock+wake+up+light&dpID=41X8Y97jmZL&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch)

3.)  Mitigate blue light- as mentioned, blue light sends the message that you should be wide awake, which can be harmful to your eyes first thing in the morning and can keep you awake longer at night. Devices, such as TV, computer, phones, and tablets, are a major source of blue light. If you’re trying to sync your body’s rhythms up with the sun, exposing yourself to devices after dark can be a major roadblock. Since it’s getting dark by 5 pm where I’m from, screen exposure after dark is basically unavoidable. There are blue light cancelling glasses that can be worn while having post-sunset screen time in the earlier part of the evening (link: https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Light-Blocking-Glasses-Artificial/dp/B07CXYT17C/ref=sr_1_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1542046398&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=blue+light+blocking+glasses&psc=1).

a.    Many electronics also have settings where light can be turned down. I have Apple products and can even set a timer each day where the light turns down to a softer amber color, which is less harmful for eyes and allows for better sleep.

4.)  Go to bed earlier! This may be a challenge for many, and falling asleep earlier may be difficult at first. It may be helpful to discuss with your medical professional some vitamins or natural supplements to help you sleep. I take a magnesium gelcap before bed and I wake up feeling fairly refreshed, however it’s important to discuss this with your professional beforehand as everyone’s needs are different, and different bodies will respond differently. Plus, I’m not a medical professional. So don’t take my word for anything- do your research and speak with your doctor!

a.    When it gets dark so early, it’s easy to lose track of time and go to sleep too late. This is a change to get cozy (more on that next week- I’m so excited for that part!), turn off the TV, and grab a book, put on some meditation music, and do whatever you need to do to release your day and embrace sleep. 

5.)  Sleep hygiene- This is important any time of year, but if you don’t want to feel like you’re losing it, it’s even more important in the winter. Some helpful tips:

a.    Try to keep your phone away from your bed or in another room if you can

b.    Maintain a similar routine each day, and commit yourself to it! This means avoiding sleeping late on days off, because your body needs the consistency.

c.     It’s OK to say no to activities if you’re tired. 

d.    Don’t drink anything caffeinated in the afternoon.

e.    Get cozy! Make your bedroom a sanctuary where you want to be! Do this with aromatherapy (just please don’t fall asleep with candles on!), soft sounds, soft lighting, comfy/soft blankets and pillows, and don’t do anything in your bedroom other than sleeping. Keep food and work out of your room- you have other rooms in the house that can be used for that!

f.     Mitigate disturbing noise (anywhere but especially in your bedroom). At night, use theta waves and binaural beats or guided meditations to relax before going to sleep. They basically act as a massage for your brain and nervous system (I’ll get into it more on a later date). This is the only time I advocate for keeping your phone near you at night- using Youtube or apps such as Insight Timer to access these is instrumental in helping me get to sleep each night.

g.    Journaling- I look at this as a “brain dump” of all the things I found myself still carrying from my day. It’s just a nice way to let it all out, process my day and package it all up so that I’m done with it (good or bad) and ready to rest before starting again the next day. 

 

I hope this list has been helpful! Next week we’ll get into my favorite part of this series- the art of getting cozy!

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Series Part II: How SAD Impacts Other Conditions

Last week, I briefly defined Seasonal Affective Disorder and the very basics of how it works in the winter, and I outlined some of the symptoms most people tend to complain of. This week, I think it’s important to touch on how SAD can impact other conditions.

 

SAD is sometimes tricky because it can have a temporary impact on other mental health conditions. Those suffering from psychotic symptoms, for example, may notice increases in hallucinations, difficulty focusing, harder time waking up (which can be further impacted by medications), weight gain (also an impacted side-effect of medications), or general lethargy. In my practice, I work almost exclusively with clients suffering from PTSD. A hallmark of PTSD can be extended periods of anxiety or depression, which can also be worsened with less access to natural light. In the earlier part of the winter, around the holidays, many of my clients also face trauma/loss anniversaries, triggers from difficult family dynamics, feeling drained by fuller-than-normal social calendars, end-of-year work stuff, etc. And those suffering from bipolar or other mood disorders are even more at risk of depressive periods despite sticking to strict medication, diet, supplement, and exercise regimens. 

 

Maybe reading this information is teaching you something for the first time, or maybe it’s validating something you’ve experienced or are presently experiencing. Either way, these difficulties can make functioning that much more difficult. Now, let’s take a look at some of the impacts of SAD on physical health:

            -weight gain- lethargy, desire to sleep more, and carb/sugar cravings all contribute. This can have lasting impacts on those at risk for diabetes, heart disease, and thyroid issues. 

            -joint pain- For those with fibromyalgia, tick-bourne diseases such as Lyme, arthritis, lupus, etc., winter can be excruciating. We as humans also just have less natural desire to move around in the winter, because it’s way better to stay indoors where it’s warm and bright, which can increase pain. This can be super frustrating to individuals who are used to a more active lifestyle, which can increase hopelessness, frustration, moodiness, and in extreme cases, suicidality. Check on your friends, help them shovel, and make extra effort to connect with those you love whom are struggling, even if it’s not in person (I will get more into natural remedies in next week’s blog). 

            -Headaches- lack of light, wanting to sleep, dietary changes all create the recipe for headaches!

            -other sleep disturbances- because it gets darker earlier, we expose ourselves to more unnatural/blue light after the sun has gone down, especially with technology. This can severely impact sleep (I’ll discuss this more next week as well). Sleep disturbance can cause further weight gain and lethargy during the day, which impacts all areas of functioning and over time, raises cortisol levels in the blood and creates massive health issues.

 

While many doctors recommend medications, I will get into natural remedies and some of the strategies I use to combat the fatigue and moodiness next week! Please stay tuned, and if any of this sounds like you, know that you’re not alone!

 

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Mindful Monday!

Today’s Mindful Monday resource comes from the incredible Brene Brown (seriously, if you haven’t read her work, you should!). She discusses blame, how it impacts our relationships, and what we can do to change this pattern!

https://www.mindful.org/two-lessons-on-blame-from-brene-brown/?fbclid=IwAR3TB_l_IeRGTjanYTvLT-KisGzqAlOECQP_Ko8J8328gBzUNzgWC54atus

If you’re interested in breaking the blame cycle, reach out to us at MHCC! Email me at rebecca@mhccholistichealth.hush.com to get connected with a therapist today!

NEW GROUP ALERT!

Lauri Weber, MFT, LADC is thrilled to be running mini-groups! These will be educational groups intended to provide resources, recommendations, and direction for adults whose loved ones are struggling with substance abuse. There will be a separate group each for those whose loved ones are adults, and another for those whose loved ones are youths are emerging adults. If you or someone you love is struggling to set boundaries and create real change within your loved one struggling with substance abuse, or you just want to be in a safe community of others who also experience this within their own personal lives, we would love to have you! Space for each groups is limited! $40 per person, per group. There’s also the added option for ongoing groups, depending on feedback from these groups! Get in touch with Lauri today at Lauri@mhccholistichealth.hush.com to secure your spot! Lauri is also accepting referrals for individual treatment sessions if you’re unable to make groups!

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Seasonal Affective Disorder Series Part I: What is it? How Does it Work?

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a very common shift in energy and mood that typically begins and ends around the same time each year. Most people experience an increase in depressive symptoms in the late fall/winter, but others can also experience a sharp increase in energy once the sun returns in the late spring and early summer.

 

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include: carb and sugar cravings, lethargy, moodiness, and just feeling “in a funk,” according to the Mayo Clinic

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651

In the winter, this can be amplified by holiday-related triggers that can remind us of traumatic or recent losses, tricky family dynamics (especially the ones that leave us having to expend more time and energy on upholding boundaries, and the demands of the holiday social schedule can leave us feeling zapped, moody, and overwhelmed, especially with the ever- decreasing access to light in the winter. 

 

Also, according to the Mayo Clinic, other symptoms can include feelings of hopelessness, guilt, trouble concentrating, changes in weight/appetite, trouble sleeping or oversleeping, and loss of interest in preferred activities.

 

The reason is believed to be due to the lack of light- in winter, New England (where I live) is dark more hours of the day than it is light. This, coupled with snowstorms, frigid temperatures, and ugly words like “wind chill factor” can make even the most well-adjusted person feel despondent and isolated. Plus, winter can start as early as October/November and last all the way until mid-April. It can feel like it will never end and like it has been cold and dark forever!

 

I don’t want you thinking that this blog is intended to create more hopelessness about the winter than you may already have. The good news is, there are tons of tips for battling SAD in the winter that I will be touching on in this upcoming blog series. That way, you can hopefully look forward to at least one small part of your day and find the energy and tools to create some meaningful daily practices to leave you feeling more hopeful and fulfilled.

 

In the next several weeks, join us on the blog to discuss how SAD can impact pre-existing mental and physical health conditions, natural remedies to ease symptoms of SAD, and some ways to remind yourself of some of the best parts of winter, even if you hate the cold weather! If you find that you need to connect with someone to manage more acute symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out!

 

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Mindful Monday

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Today’s Mindful Monday resource comes to us from an article in Time Magazine. The writer delves into the benefits of yoga and its impact on depression and other symptoms of various mental illnesses! Consider this your invitation to start small, be alone with your body, and start repairing your relationship with it by first learning how to listen to it!

http://time.com/4695558/yoga-breathing-depression/?fbclid=IwAR0dTHyFBew2rIyE5kRKgH5fw53qrkjhyPiZMYG1GShJs82_8haImaJsxak

How Therapy Helps Unlearn Procedural Learning

Previously in a social media post, I touched very briefly about procedural learning and its implications with trauma. I realize that can sound like a death sentence, and I wanted the chance to explain a little more as someone who works with this material every day. Basically, procedural learning can work both ways- negative things can be unlearned, and then new learning can be put in its place. 

For a solid example and recap of how general procedural learning works, follow this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFzDaBzBlL0

 

As we become adults, our brains are less plastic than they were when we were kids, meaning it’s somewhat harder to learn new things because our brains are fully formed. Basically, due to our ages as adults, there’s more information to sift through and unlearn. There has to be more time to reinforce that which we know, which means the negative procedural learning of trauma patterns have had more time to be ingrained into our brains.

 

How does the process of unlearning procedural learning begin? Well, we do it small ways fairly often on our own. When we’re trying to do something one way and it doesn’t work, we try a new sequence or new approach until we are able to achieve the results we want.

 

Like the guy in the backwards brain bike video, our brains need time to make new connections. As with the man in the video, this can take months, or even years, with daily practice. The same principles apply in therapy when addressing anxiety and trauma.

 

In sessions, I generally frame it like this: I like to identify a moment when a client had a panic/anxiety attack that had them feeling triggered. We then break down, moment-by-moment, what triggered the reaction and what the steps are to their reaction buildup. We look for patterns, and we discuss which parts feel the worst or most outside of the client’s control. Then, depending on the client’s treatment plan and our already established goals, we either do some sort of talk therapy to identify possible shifts in thinking and behavior that can be made while the client is still feeling like they can manage their response to the trigger. The other option I use is EMDR to reprocess the trigger and the feeling of not being in control. The eye movements in EMDR (more information at www.emdria.org) can help make new neural connections to change where certain procedural memories are stored in the brain, so that the memories can be recalled with an appropriate amount of feeling in a voluntary basis as opposed to involuntary and disproportionate reactions from re-living a trauma.

 

With something like attachment trauma, which is where I specialize, the procedural learning of the trauma reaction (anxiety, dissociation, physical reactions) often happens before the age at which a child is able to speak, and long before they can articulate what they are experiencing. This is usually before the corpus callossum is developed enough for the child to be able to self-soothe. You can imagine that the same patterns throughout that child’s lifetime can create a long, difficult, but very possible road for unlearning reactions to triggers. This process is extremely difficult, but the payoff is beyond worthwhile. It takes patience, daily practice outside of therapy appointments, strong rapport with a good clinician, solid natural supports, and the biggest undertaking of all for those who have attachment trauma- extra kindness toward oneself throughout the entire process.

Procedural learning is just that- learning. While it may take a long time and lots of patience, it can be unlearned and then re-learned. It should be noted that adults often become frustrated during the process because they forget that they are trying to unlearn one thing and re-learn something else simultaneously. I just want you to know, dear reader, that it is NEVER too late, and there is no issue that is “too far gone” if you’re willing to commit to healing and creating a strong relationship with the right therapist. If you’re ready to learn something new that feels more empowering than your usual response to triggers, if you’re ready to commit to a new practice that includes lots of self-love and patience, reach out to a therapist!

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Spotlight on: Julie Wood, MA. LPC Candidate

It’s my pleasure to introduce Julie Wood, who is this month’s Friday Features clinician! Julie is my supervisee at MHCC, and is in the process of becoming EMDR trained. She sees self-pay clients only, at a low sliding scale, and later this month will be running two groups for Deaf and Hard of Hearing young adults! I am so thrilled to have her on board, and anyone who spends five minutes in the same room as Julie can feel her compassion, sensitivity, and awesome sense of humor. I thought it would be fun to have Julie answer some questions about herself so you all can get to know her better, and I was definitely not disappointed!

1.) When you were a kid, what did you tell people you wanted to be when you grew up?

·     A penguin washer. You know, the people that wash the penguins at the aquarium or go to help out when there is an oil spill!

2.) When did you first know you wanted to be a therapist?

·     During graduate school. I got into the program because it was going to provide me the tools to work with the deaf population. While taking counseling classes, I realized that is what I wanted to do, mental health counseling.

3.) What is one way being a therapist has changed you?

·      I think it has made me more aware. What I mean by that is maybe more understanding to what others may be going through, or that someone may be going through something and that is why they act the way they do. When I am out driving, and someone gives me the finger because they perceive that I cut them off, I am able to remember that that is their stuff, not mine.

4.) What is a population you’re passionate about working with?

·     The deaf, especially youth transitioning from high school to college or work

5.) How did working with that population come to be a passion for you (no client details, please)?

·      I worked for the state as a Vocation Rehabilitation counselor and witnessed the lack of counseling and support that students receive while they go through the transition and when they graduate is appalling. I want to help these kids realize what they can do, what the “real world” means and how to navigate their disability while in it.

6.) What’s one challenge in your life that you’re proud of overcoming?

·     Depression. It is still something I struggle with, but I have survived a particularly terrible episode when it seemed like there was no way out.

7.) What is the best client feedback you’ve ever received?

·     That I took the time to listen and follow through for the client, when no one else did.

8.) What do you wish clients would ask you in an intake?

·     What will be expected from them, or how can they make the most out of their work with me? 

9.) What is the funniest thing you’ve ever said in session that you never thought you would say?

·      I love using humor and personal anecdotes to connect with clients. There is very little I will not say, if I feel that the person is in a place to hear it. I had a client who worked at a gym that my friend went to. He happened to be in one of her pictures she posted on Facebook. When I told him I saw the picture he said something about me coming to workout there. I told him, “Screw that! My wedding is over, I am done with the gym and on to carbs.”  

10.) What is your favorite food/flavor of ice cream?

·     Tacos are life in the Wood household. We celebrate every Tuesday! I do not really like ice cream. Before you gather your pitchforks, I am lactose intolerant and ice cream is one of the foods I really CANNOT tolerate! 

11.) What is your favorite self-care activity?

·     Shopping! But when it is not pay week, I love reading!

12.) What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not at work?

·      I love going to the movies. My husband and I always wear comfy clothes, get popcorn and candy and only go to theaters with the comfy seats so we can really relax. 

13.) What is your favorite book?

·      I have read so many, it is hard to pick!

14.) What is your most recommended book to clients?

·      I would recommend Crazy by Peter Earley. He talks about the societal issues with mental illness, and what we are not doing to help those who experience it. I love what he has to say and how he says it.

15.) Finally, what is a meaningful/favorite quote you’d like to leave our audience with?

·     The quote that I live by, whether in my personal life or professional life, is a Polish proverb, “Not my circus, not my monkeys”. Simply put it means “not my problem”. We spend so much time worrying about what we are doing and how we can help others. I am going to help my clients to the best of my ability, but I can only do so much. I urge everyone to remember these words when there is something that is out of your control, even though you want to do all you can to help. Sometimes, you simply can’t. 

Julie loves working with hearing clients as well! If you like what you read, please contact Julie directly at Juliana@mhccholistichealth.hush.com or 860-431-3825!  Julie is a Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate, under the direct supervision of Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC who can be reached at rebecca@mhccholistichealth.hush.com

Julie loves working with hearing clients as well! If you like what you read, please contact Julie directly at Juliana@mhccholistichealth.hush.com or 860-431-3825!

Julie is a Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate, under the direct supervision of Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC who can be reached at rebecca@mhccholistichealth.hush.com

Ritual vs. Routine, Part II

Last week, I talked about routine and asked you to write out your daily tasks to be completed, or block off your schedule on your calendar to get a visual idea of how much of your day your routine, or pursuit thereof, actually takes up. I asked you to notice what your mind does and what your body feels during that activity. Where did/does your energy want to go when writing it out and looking at it? Are you making time for yourself?

The answers to these questions may have surprised you, but also are excellent tools to consider ritual. Ritual should be some series of behaviors or activities geared towards a specific goal. Rituals can be small, daily rituals, such as prayers before bedtime to clear the mind, meditating for a few minutes before getting up in the morning, wearing a specific pair of socks to every hockey game because it may draw more luck to help your team win, or taking a power or yin yoga class. Rituals can also be more community-based and bigger or occur less frequently, such as eating turkey with family and friends on Thanksgiving while discussing what we are thankful for, or the funerals and death rituals of any culture. The point isn’t so much the activity, although that definitely matters. The true importance is the intention behind the activity, and connection to self as well as community. For example, Catholic people have funerals when a loved one dies, as a means of saying an individual goodbye, communing with Spirit, and sending off the spirit of their loved one while recapitulating and grieving together. Every culture and religion in the world has rituals around birth or death, and they exist for a reason. These rituals are obviously much bigger than what I’m addressing in the average person’s everyday life, but the takeaway message is the same- we intentionally take time out of our day to connect with ourselves and possibly others, and there may or may not be a spiritual component.

The same ritual mindset is applied to mindfulness and meditation practices, but can be applied to basically everything we do so that we are more present in the moment, and can be aware of the needs of our bodies, minds, and souls- besides only when it feels like something is lacking or there’s a crisis. Rituals can mark the passage of time, and mindful connection to even our small, mundane daily rituals can lead to a greater sense of satisfaction than simply checking items off a to-do list because we feel like we should.

While I don’t want to sound preachy, I do like to use myself as an example in this blog (good and bad, because I’m human and at the end of the day I can only ethically speak to my experience). So, if you’re looking for some ideas for how to incorporate positive rituals into your day, here are some of my favorites:

Morning coffee or other hot beverage- make sure you’re not multitasking and distracting yourself while doing this. Actually sit with yourself, notice each level of flavor, the warmth (or cold if that’s more your thing), maybe find a mantra/quote/intention for your day and think on it for a few, uninterrupted minutes. And don’t do it while you’re driving. Actually make time for yourself the way you would a beloved friend.

Yoga- different classes exist for different purposes. I like to take a power yoga class in the beginning of the day to start positive conversations with my body, and for strength/empowerment, working out anger/other lingering emotions, etc. I like yin classes at the end of my day for deep emotional release, flexibility, and relaxation after a stressful/high activity day or impactful yoga class.

Cooking- can often be like a moving meditation. When considering a meal, don’t just listen to what your taste buds are craving (which is totally one of my biggest struggles, I will admit openly!). Asking myself “what does my body need to refuel?” is a huge help, as des finding something delicious and nourishing. Then, the process of cooking the meal feels almost meditative and I can get lost in the multi-sensory experience. When I don’t have an abundance of time and energy to make food, I usually make sure I’ve prepped enough leftovers to heat up, or I’ll sometimes even treat myself to a nutritious meal out. I know that feeding myself an over-abundance of junk food won’t make me feel energized. But a small treat here or there is OK, as long as I avoid trigger foods for my immune system.

Also, I like to make sure I take care of the day-to-day stuff, like drinking my smoothies, taking my new vitamin regimen (it works miracles, I swear), and drink plenty of water and stretch throughout the day!

Exercise- walking, hiking, some weight lifting, spin classes, yoga classes, whatever! I just take extra care to make sure I’m doing these activities with the intention of loving and caring for my body, rather than punishing and hurting it or being angry at it.

Journaling- every day, even when I don’t know what to write about. Where do you think I find inspiration for blogs? Sometimes, I’ll even do a card pull from my favorite oracle decks, find an inspirational quote online, listen to an audiobook, read a poem, shamanic journey, or meditate for a few minutes for inspiration. Sometimes, tension I didn’t even realize I had gets released and things I didn’t realize I was hanging on to gets processed along the way. 

Body/Energy Work-I cannot recommend massage enough! Along with aromatherapy, energy healing/Reiki, shamanic healing session if I’m feeling off. 

I hope that this two-part series has clarified the importance of ritual within our daily routines, and how it doesn’t necessarily require a major shift in behavior, but more mindful awareness, in order to have a better connection with yourself. If you’re interested in connecting with others who are also looking to connect with themselves, there’s still time to join my Goddess group starting next week! We will be meeting for two hours on Saturdays, for six weeks, discussing our inner goddesses, learning about our needs, how to meet them in our daily lives, and journaling outside of the group to notice the changes in our lives! Contact me directly at rebecca@nestcoaching.org!

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Ritual vs. Routine: Revitalize Your Mind by Shifting Your Approach to What You're Already Doing

Lifestyle changes don’t always have to be some massive life overhaul. You don’t have to completely change everything all at once- all of a sudden changing everything in your diet, spending two hours a day doing cardio, and cutting everyone out of your life isn’t rewarding or sustainable, so it’s not likely you’ll have incentive to do it for very long. Radical changes all at once can deplete energy and are overall less sustainable than small adjustments to mindset that inspire lasting changes, because of the small rituals and the self-awareness derived from them. This can inspire other small changes, which, over time, can give you a chance to notice the benefits of the small changes and leave your life looking totally different than it used to. 

This next mini-series is meant to help you become aware of your daily routine, how you’re prioritizing and talking to yourself throughout that routine, or how completely checked out from yourself you may actually be while you’re doing all the things you’re supposed to do for your own self-care. For example, you may be spending time working out and prepping/eating healthy food, but you could be doing it out of anger and non-acceptance of your body rather than recognition of the nurturance your body needs to maintain your overall health.

Let’s start with looking at routine. Routine refers to your daily schedule, the things that must be accomplished in order to feel like your day is complete and you were successful. Too often, however, we get bogged down in the stress and to-do list, rushing around. We often lose sight of why we’re actually doing the things that are part of our routines. For instance, we get stuck in rushing the kids to school, activities, doctor appointments, and scouts. But we never ask ourselves why, other than ‘it’s for my kid’ or ‘I committed to it,’ rather than ‘it’s my purpose to give my kid a variety experiences’ or ‘it’s important to me to follow through on my commitments,’ which are more honest statements connecting us to our purposes. The main purpose in the example is fulfilling the purpose in our culture, if the individual is called to do so. 

It’s easy to let our routine run away with us, especially if we feel stuck in a rut because our routine doesn’t deviate much day-to-day. I know I’m someone who thrives from the same routine day-to-day, and it’s easy for me to also check out and get things done. I also know that my body craves routine, as evidenced by my naturally waking up before 6 am every day unless I’m sick. 

I also know how disempowering routine can be. While routine is necessary for me to get things done, stay organized, and be able to focus and stay present in my work and practices, I am also very sensitive to shifts in my routine. I just feel “off” if I wake up late and I feel more pressured to run around and get things done. This throws me way off balance, because I’m left feeling like a victim of time, I’m often angry/frustrated, have a hard time focusing, and I know I’m not doing my best work. I feel like I’m just running around rushing for no clear purpose, and I just mess things up and spend more time doing damage control for everything that gets messed up along the way, which just adds to my frustration. Therefore, it’s vital to me to have rituals and practices to incorporate into and balance out my routine. Often, this simply looks like stopping for a moment, checking in with myself, and asking myself why I’m doing what I’m doing, what I feel like I need mentally, spiritually, and physically, and seeing if I can make a little time to make that happen. Pretty soon, it’s easy to let go of the things that don’t have a clear purpose in my life because I have no true connection to them. 

I’ll get more into rituals and practices next week, but the takeaway message for today is an invitation to look at your daily routine (or, perhaps, lack thereof). When you write out what has to get done each day, or try to block off time for tasks in your calendar, what is your mind doing? What is your body feeling? Where does your energy want to go? Are you making time for yourself? If so, where are you prioritizing yourself?

We’ll build on these in the next blog in this series, but you’d be surprised at the information you may receive and benefits you may notice in just making time to ask yourself these questions.

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.