Women’s Health Week Challenge

Did you know that May 10th – May 16th is National Women’s Health week? We all either know them or are them; women who take so much time and energy caring for others, whether its a spouse, child, or parent who needs the help, often its a sister, daughter or wife who provides it.Coinciding well with Mother’s Day, May 10th is the beginning of National Women’s Health week. I challenge all women to do something to take care of themselves, and I challenge all men, and others who don’t identify their gender traditionally, to support them.

So here is the challenge for the week, select at least one of the following to do:

1) Take time to prepare a healthy and balanced meal for yourself, don’t rush through it, enjoy it, and hold onto each moment that you are taking care of yourself by doing this, then do the same as you enjoy the meal.

2) Schedule that appointment you have been skipping out on, whether its a medical appt for your doctor or gynecologist, dental appt, or an appt to see a therapist or counselor.

3) Schedule that other appt you have missed out on for either a pedicure, a manicure, or to get your hair washed and done.

4) Buy yourself flowers and place them where you will be able to enjoy the site and scent, mine are by my bed so I can fall asleep and wake up to fresh flowers.

5) Get some exercise, if you have a regular workout schedule stick with it, if not, go for a long walk or a hike where you can enjoy nature.

6) Buy some seeds and plant them, tend to your seeds and watch them bloom and grow over the next several weeks.

Whatever you decide to do, get started by or before the week of May 10th. Good emotional and physical health depends on taking time to truly care for your emotional, physical, spiritual and social needs. Take stock and take the challenge!

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Catching up

The last several months have been somewhat of a whirlwind for me. I haven’t put focus or effort into my blog. This past May, I married the guy who had the biggest crush on me in middle school (I only frame his introduction this way to tease him as he reads my blog ūüėČ ). I was the guest speaker at an undergraduate event hosted by the Social Work Department at Lehman College , where I was once an undergraduate. I had the honor of talking about my professional and personal accomplishments and struggles since finishing school. I aimed to give a realistic but also motivational speech and I am hopeful that it turned out that way. I covered a couple of classes for an NYU professor over her vacation time. I am excited about an upcoming event with Mary Pender Greene and Company where I will facilitate group and individual therapy with mothers impacted by loss this coming August. I am also planning to facilitate a group workshop and relaxation and visualization exercises with another group of parents through work with Mrs. Kat Harrison and The Tommy Foundation NYC Chapter. The Tommy Foundation NYC (https://www.facebook.com/TheTommyFoundationNycChapter/info)¬†¬†works to help individuals and families impacted by autism. And I have fully re-committed to making the strongest and most positive professional impact I possibly can through my day to day work in the non profit world. All of that while continuing to navigate the brave new land of parenting an 18 year old and managing my private practice. It’s been an extremely busy spring and summer! On an even more positive note, I feel like I am coming down from all of these changes, and able to get back into the day to day work that I do with a renewed focus and sense of strength and optimism. I am looking forward to sharing more of my professional endeavors routinely through my blog. Happy Summer everyone!!! ¬†

Spa Day

Earlier this month I had a very rich experience. I led an experiential ¬†workshop focused on meditation and relaxation with The Tommy Foundation NYC Chapter, for their second annual Free Spa Day. The event was extremely well organized by Katiana Harrison, President of The Tommy Foundation NYC chapter (¬†http://www.tommyland.org/nyc¬†).¬†I was able to work with a group of women, all mothers, all parenting at least one child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder or special need, some parenting multiple children with special needs. I walked away really feeling moved by this group of women who¬†work incredibly hard to meet their children’s needs, and take care of their selves and their families in other ways as well. Some managing their own careers and their educations in addition to parenting. ¬†All working to ensure their children’s educational needs and social needs are met. All focused and incredibly real and passionate about being good mothers. All loving mothers who enjoy their children.

This event was focused on providing mothers with a day just for themselves, they had their hair, make-up, and nails done, received massage and facials, were part of group therapy exercises, focused relaxation exercises, and chef prepared dishes all at no cost to participants.

It was a reminder for me of the importance of self-care for everyone. Not only taking care of yourself mentally, physically, spiritually, but being sure to take time to connect with others. If you’re feeling like you have started to slack off in self care consider giving yourself a personal spa day.¬†Set a day aside that you will focus on your own needs. But overall, be sure that you’re taking care of yourself in general. See the self-care tips below.

-Get enough sleep, speak to your doctor or a therapist if you’re regularly not getting enough sleep. In general about 8 hours per night, but people may need more or less because of individual needs. How do you feel after 6, 8, or 10 hours of rest? How you feel can be a good indication of how much sleep you individually need. Your body and mind require sleep to function well. Over time, not getting enough sleep on a regular basis can contribute to health and mental health problems worsening or developing.

-Eat at least 3 meals a day, focus on changing what the meals consist of if you have health or weight concerns. A general way to keep cholesterol and calories down is to make each serving of food balanced and serve your plate so that the largest portion on your plate is a serving of fruit or vegetables, next lean protein and the smallest serving is carbohydrates. If you snack, choose healthy snacks.

-Take time each day for you, even if it’s just half an hour you set aside and wake up before the rest of the household wakes up, take that time to pray, or meditate, or sit with quiet thought.Or have your time be at the end of the day during a warm bath or quiet time alone.

-Make time to be social. Even if you have a lot of responsibility or very busy days. Find a friend in your area that you can see, speak with and connect with. If you don’t make any time to be social at all at this point, try to start with once a month and maintain that as a minimum, increasing when you are able to. If you have grown away from existing friendships, try local community centers, houses of worship, or websites like http://www.meetup.com/find/¬†to find local groups and people who you can connect with.

–¬†Make sure you are getting regular dental and medical care. Make sure you are keeping your body clean, and taking care of your nails and hair when you need to.

Finding the right therapist

So you’re looking for a therapist. What do you need to know? Below are some questions designed for you to ask your potential therapist, and some designed for you to ask yourself to help you to find a good match for yourself. You can ask these upfront, but it’s best if you ask yourself the questions designed for you after you meet with them initially.

1) What is your professional license and in which state are you licensed? What education, professional experience and examinations did you need to complete in order to acquire your professional license?

2) Where is your office located? What public transportation is accessible near by? Is there parking available?

3) What days and times do you see clients during the week?

4) Can you describe the way you engage clients? How long do you generally work with clients for?

5) What experience have you had working with people who have the same concerns that I have? What was the outcome of your work with them?

6) Are you available for same day or phone appointments if I have an emergency? How could I reach you in an emergency?

7) Do you see clients with their loved ones if there is a need to? Does this cost more or less than my regular sessions?

8) Do you take my insurance? Do you have sliding scale fees? What is your fee?

The initial meeting should serve as a test drive for your work with this therapist. Now ask yourself these questions:

1) Does this person seem like they understood the concerns I have? Do I have the sense that they will “get” me?

2) Will therapy with this therapist fit in my finances, either because I can afford sessions with them, or they accept my insurance carrier?

3) Can I access this person in an emergency even if its just an urgent scheduling change?

4) Can I get to the location without too much difficulty? Is the office space comfortable?

5) Do people they have worked with who have had the same concerns I do- do they have results that I might want to have?

Finding a therapist that you can work with is very important in meeting your goals. The person and how they mesh with you, are equally as important as their professional training. Think it through. Good Luck!

Change

One of the most important traits a person, or family, can have is the ability to adapt to change. Life is ever changing, as are our relationships. Family’s have to adapt to change as children grow older, roles and needs change. Relationships change. As a therapist, i often find that family’s that are struggling with issues, are really struggling with adapting to something new. The youngest child grows up and doesn’t follow the family pattern and strikes out into the world differently than his siblings and parents did. A teenagers developing identity begins to display to her parents that she isn’t the child they had always imagined she would be. She isn’t the daughter they always wanted- she is very different than they thought she would be. She speaks louder and is more outspoken, or is extremely shy when they imagined her turning out differently. ¬†It may sound simple, but adapting to these things can be incredibly challenging for some family’s. A family often has to grieve the loss of who and what they expected compared to what they have. With time and support, they may learn to appreciate the gifts and talents this child expresses.