Self Care as Interconnected Care (plus 9 ways to stay connected)

Self Care as Interconnected Care (plus 9 ways to stay connected)

Self-care is a popular topic, and has become the go-to for anyone stressed out by life. One Google search pulls up almost 97 million results! 

(Hang on. I’m a bit floored by that.)

Okay, whew. I’m back. So, I’m not going to read millions of articles, but I suspect most of them hold a basic assumption that self-care is important so that you can get back to your job, family, or other capitalist expectation without feeling depleted. That’s fine, and actually probably helpful for many people for a time. However, I suspect it ignores these important questions:

What if it’s your job that’s causing your stress? What if your stress is brought on by poor communication with your family? Lack of access to quality mental health care? Overwhelming debt due to school loans or a volatile housing market or medical costs or historical economic inequity due to racism?

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"What happened?!" When Social Anxiety Is Your Growing Edge

"What happened?!" When Social Anxiety Is Your Growing Edge

If you’ve ever spent a night (or a week) turning over and over in your mind what you might have said to someone that you regret, you are not alone. So many of us suffer from social anxiety, and from a gripping fear that we are “too much” of something that others cannot tolerate. 

Too moody?
Too intense?
Think too much?
Too political?
Too… weird?

Yeah, all those are things lots of us worry about.

When the What happened?! anxiety hits, it can be really hard to remember that every interaction is a dynamic interaction. We are dynamically experiencing our relationships, meanings, interpretations, sensations, and identities all the time. In social interactions, we are functioning on a spectrum of risk-taking where, by saying what we feel, we might end up feeling like we said the wrong thing.

(It’s okay. Really. We are ALL susceptible to this.)

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"Sunday Neurosis," or, What happens to us during the holidays?

"Sunday Neurosis," or, What happens to us during the holidays?

"Sunday neurosis" was a term coined by psychoanalyst Sandor Ferenczi to describe the anxiety and stress we feel on Sundays right before we have to go back to work on Monday. I hear a lot of people in my practice talk about this, and I'm not immune to it either – that feeling on Sunday nights of all the anticipated problems in the week ahead seeming to spiral towards you, as though Sisyphus has let go of that damn boulder once and for all and, whoops, looks like you're going to be the one carrying it now if it doesn't smash you first!

This feeling of anxiety and stress is true for so many of us who work the traditional Monday through Friday schedule. This is also something that happens to many of us during the holidays. Some people experience a "vacation brain" that can be blissful while it's happening, but excruciating to come back from. While Ferenczi didn't acknowledge that this same type of anxiety can happen the day before you start your working life after a long holiday, it is incredibly common.

So what can you do about it? 

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Caring for yourself is necessary. Please keep showing up.

Caring for yourself is necessary. Please keep showing up.

"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." –Audre Lorde

Showing up can mean a lot of things.

 It can mean marching in the streets.

It can mean donating to local groups dedicated to lifting up the lives of people in marginalized communities.

It can mean sleeping in when you are tired.

It can mean supporting good journalism by subscribing to newspapers and magazines who prioritize unbiased reporting.

It can mean reading books, poems, and speeches by revolutionaries who have come before us, and those on the ground working to make sure our hard-won rights are not stripped from us and the ones we love.

It can mean hosting friends at your home who are willing to talk about the hard stuff.

It can mean less visible ways of showing up when staying home is necessary.

It can mean honoring the process of grieving, taking the risk of loving, daring to make space for your voice and the voices of those at risk.

There is room for all of us in this.

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How To Set Goals You Love (and that could actually help you change your life)

How To Set Goals You Love (and that could actually help you change your life)

If something is not working in your life, you probably already know it on some level. You might feel agitated, tired, frustrated, or lost. You also might not feel like there's much you can do about it.

Sometimes, there really isn't much to do but survive your feelings. If you're grieving a breakup, death, loss, or other transition, sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to ride the wave and let it pass. But, if you have any ounce of energy to envision the life you want for yourself, I'd like to offer you a space to try it. You might surprise yourself with what you discover.

Here's a goal-setting recipe to try:

Time: 3-5 hours
Ingredients: Paper, pen/pencil, music, creative inspiration (yes, sometimes Facebook counts as a helpful distraction/creative tool.)Task: Set both qualitative (sense of self and values) and quantitative (actionable and measurable) goals for 10 years, 5 years, and 1 year from now.

On the top of a blank piece of paper, write: In 10 years from now, in the year XXXX, I will be X years old. I:

(Then, answer the following questions:)

  1. How will I feel in my work? (This isn't "what work will I do?"- that comes later. We're trying to get a felt sense here.)
  2. How will I feel in my relationships?
  3. What kind of relationships will I pursue?
  4. How will I feel about what I'm doing with my life?
  5. How will I feel when I fall asleep at night, and when I wake up in the morning?
  6. What values do I hold in my life? How will I know I'm making decisions that are in line with these values?

Next, what does this look like practically? Maybe you want to feel more abundant, stable, loved, and confident. What does this look like? What do you need to do to encourage more of what you want? Make a list as long and as detailed as you want here. This is where you can list some actual jobs you might have, like teaching, publishing a book, working as a pediatrician at XYZ hospital, etc. You can also describe your relationships, friendships, home, pets, children, whatever comes to mind.

This section is your chance to really write out the specifics of what you want- how much money you want to be making, what your career and family and relationships with yourself and your partner(s) look like. Does it mean being in therapy more? Going to more concerts? Fewer parties? Buying more expensive clothes? Putting your clothes budget into your savings? What job do you have and what does it pay you? Are you married, and do you have a stable home? Or maybe those things aren't as important to you as traveling, producing films, volunteering at shelters. Whatever it is, what could that look like for you? Write it down.

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Conversations in Therapy about Body Terrorism, Rape Culture, and Sexism

Conversations in Therapy about Body Terrorism, Rape Culture, and Sexism

(CONTENT WARNING: RAPE CULTURE, EMOTIONAL/VERBAL ABUSE, SEXISM, BODY TERRORISM)

This week, video and audio footage was released from a hot mic recording of one of our US presidential candidates.
...
An abuser might say, "These things he says are just words. They aren't as bad as actions." That's simply not true when it comes to emotional abuse. Even "just words" that resemble old traumas can shut people's cognitive functions down, as though the old trauma were happening in the here-and-now. People go into a fight-flight-freeze-appease state. If you know someone with this kind of history, it is so incredibly important to choose your words carefully, kindly, and with compassion. This presidential candidate is not taking care of, or responsibility for, the impact of his own words.

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Teachers need self-care, too!

Teachers need self-care, too!

Teachers are remarkable people. Having worked with teachers in my practice for the past decade, I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the most passionate, smart, creative, and ... stressed out people ever. Having been a teacher and a lecturer myself, I understand the excitement, creativity, and energy that goes in to helping people of all ages expand their minds and develop their skills so they have the best possible opportunities in the world. I also understand the pressure, overloaded schedule, emotional overwhelm, and burnout.

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Self-Care and... Social Media Boundaries

Self-Care and... Social Media Boundaries

Social media can be pretty overwhelming. You want to stay in touch with your friends and family (and super cute fuzzy creatures and squishy baby faces), but the incessant memes, the violent articles and videos, and the stunted conversations can feel triggering, impersonal, and traumatizing. In my latest article for Psyched in San Francisco, I share my perspective on how to cultivate your social media in a way that offers a replenishing space for self-care, rather than increasing burnout.

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When Shit Gets Hard

When Shit Gets Hard

Shit gets hard.

I don't think words can truly express what it feels like when shit gets hard. Sometimes it comes and goes, and sometimes it lingers on. This is for you to read when you're not feeling okay.

A few things first:

Please eat, right now, if you haven't in the last few hours.
Please drink water.
Have a treat.
Find something snuggly to wear or get under the covers (if you're not there already).

Thank you. I know those were probably really hard to do. If you need to stop here, that's okay.

If you want to keep reading, I have some affirmations to share with you:

 

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Boundaries: Saying No in order to say Yes... to yourself!

Boundaries: Saying No in order to say Yes... to yourself!

You're exhausted and drained, trying to keep up with the demands (real or perceived) of friends, family, work, and your inner drive. You long for more freedom, more space to think and relax, but it feels like the world is an unrelenting cascade of needs from other people.

You need help in saying "No".

Seriously. You really don't have to say Yes to everything!

But maybe it feels that way. Maybe it really feels like if you say no to something, you'll be cutting off a relationship, or disappointing someone, or enacting an aggressive and resentful part of yourself that really... doesn't want to have to perform.

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