mood

LifeTip: Where Is My Happiness?

Photo by  Evan Kirby  on  Unsplash

Photo by Evan Kirby on Unsplash

Isn’t the ultimate goal for us to be happy?  It’s something that each and every one of us truly wants but we can easily get caught out in the weeds during our search for it.  Whether we’ve fallen off the path or in a new search of it, happiness is something that each of us deserves to experience. So why is this so hard for some of us to find when we all want it so badly?  Perhaps a good place to start would be in taking a look at what happiness really is.

Many clinically-based definitions focus on the consistent state of experiencing positive emotions along with the strong ability to mitigate the damaging effects of negative emotions.  What?? For the rest of us, I like to think of happiness as that emotion that brings about feelings of: pride, excitement, enjoyment, “warm fuzzies”, contentment, and joy. As that first definition suggests, being happy doesn’t mean that you’re immune to sadness, disappointment, frustration, or the “blahs”.  Contrary to popular belief or desire, it’s okay for different emotions to cohabitate (remember the ending of “Inside Out” when the memory balls were multicolored?). An authentically happy person is able to consistently experience that true joy and zest for life and, in turn, successfully work through those “yucky” times with greater ease than unhappy people.

I can almost hear some of you saying, “yea, but what is it?  What will make me happy?” Not that I necessarily want to play that ‘counselor card’, but you already have that answer inside of you.  No one can tell you what makes you happy; only you can identify things that make you happy. So, think on it for a minute. What things truly light up that fire inside of you and leave you feeling like you’re wrapped in a soft, cozy blanket?  For some, happiness is just that – wrapped up tightly in a fleece blanket, snuggled up on the couch watching a movie. For others, it’s out hiking in the greenbelt on a warm sunny day. Others experience happiness in being surrounded by close friends or family members.  The point is, happiness looks different for each and every one of us and it’s our job to figure out what those things are that bring us happiness; we can’t rely on someone else to do that for us.

Still having a hard time pinning down things that make you happy?  Here are a few things that you can do to help:

Practice gratitude:  be thankful for the things that you have and for the people that are around you.  By counting your blessings and reframing your thoughts to ones of giving thanks, you’ll find that you experience more optimism and gratefulness throughout the day.

Cultivate relationships:  we all have an inherent need for human contact and it’s through this contact, that we’re able to create a foundation of security and peace.  Whether it be an intimate relationship or a social relationship, it’s important that we all have a network of people that we can share our happiness with and who can support us when the happiness fades a bit.

Get off your rear:  stop creating a permanent divot in your couch and get out and enjoy the outdoors.  Many studies have shown that sunlight and nature have a tremendous benefit on our mental health and our happiness.  Go explore a new biking trail, join a Meet-Up group, take in some live music, or enjoy a nice café latte at your favorite coffee house.  Regardless of what you chose, get up and do it!

Be kind:  doing nice things for others makes us feel good about ourselves.  More importantly though, being kind to yourself. Treat yourself with the same amount of love, appreciation, and forgiveness that you want others to give you.  To me, loving yourself is the key to true happiness.

This list could go on and on for happiness is found through a multitude of ways.  The bottom line, though, is that you need to take action and hunt down your own happiness.  You will soon find that your true happiness is often right in front of you. Pick it up and embrace it!  Every single one of us deserves to feel that highly sought after joy, excitement, and peace.

LifeTip: Time, Is There Ever Enough?

Pocket watch.jpg

Time – that never-ending beast that we seem to fight against each and every day.  Between work, grocery shopping, walking the dog, and getting that overdue oil change done, we seem to find ourselves in this strange game of time manipulation.  As tough is the game can be, we always seem to find a way to make it all work out and get our relegated tasks complete.  Often, though, we tend to leave out one of the most important tasks.  We find ourselves grumpy and tense wondering “what is it that I forgot to do?”  The checklists are complete, the laundry has been folded, dry cleaning has been picked up, and the gas tank is filled…what could possibly be left unfinished?  Well, that unfinished task is you.  Take two seconds and ask yourself, “when was the last time I spent quality time with myself?”

If you’re anything like me, you may be feeling a little bit of anxiety just thinking about trying to fit one more thing into your day.  What happens to us, though, if we don’t take that extra time for ourselves?  Perhaps we start to feel cranky, unappreciated, overwhelmed, tired, burnt out, complacent, and edgy.  That fire that used to burn brightly within us has started to die out and the excitement that we used to have has morphed into resentment.  We all keep doing our own version of the hokey pokey, but is this really what it’s all about?

The answer is no.  Life is meant to be lived and not merely survived.  We tend to spend so much time and energy in taking care of other people and other things, that we neglect the most important person that we know – ourselves.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were able to re-ignite that passion and zest for life and not feel so bogged down by the daily grind?  That fire can be re-lit and the person holding that matchstick is you.  You are the person that needs the attention, compassion, and nurturing.  It is through this continued act of self-love and self-care that we can refuel our gas tanks and regain that passion.

Below are a few easy yet effective ways of giving back to yourself:

  • Go for a walk
  • Make yourself a nice meal
  • Take yourself to the movies
  • Enjoy a nice latte at your favorite coffee shop
  • Set aside your phone, iPad, computer, etc. and pick up your favorite book
  • Journal – take 10 minutes every day and just write.  Put pen to paper and just let your thoughts flow.
  • Open up that sketch pad and let your creativity fly.
  • Put on your favorite music, snuggle up on the couch in your coziest blanket, and just take in the serenity.
  • Go in the backyard and play fetch with Fido.
  • Take in a yoga class
  • Treat yourself to a relaxing mani/pedi
  • Find a relaxing spot in the park, sit down, close your eyes, and just breathe

No matter how simple or mundane you may think the activity is, it is essential that you take that time for yourself.  Self-care is kind of like the airplane emergency concept.  We’ve got to make sure that the oxygen mask is secured on ourselves before we can try to take care of anyone else.  The concept of time doesn’t have to be a beast to be conquered.  If we can work our own self-care into our daily schedules we can quickly find that life is truly meant to be lived and not just survived.

Love yourself.  You are the most important person that you know.

 

Let's Get Cooking!

Summer might just be the perfect time to explore new foods, new restaurants and new recipes! With all that extra time (and rain and humidity keeping us indoors), it allows us the opportunity to be adventurous and fearless chefs! But wait! We aren't suggesting parents be the ones in the kitchen (you're not? thank goodness!). This post is for our tween and teen friends out there.

First, check out Instacart! This easy-to-use app and website lets the groceries come to you. So, if mom or dad can't make a run to the grocery story, you can shop online for a quick delivery to your door. (Remember to ALWAYS get permission from mom and dad first!) Another great thing about Instacart is that you can look up recipes through the app or website and then put the ingredients needed in your cart right then and there. Easy as pie!....mmmmm...pie! :) Also check out this site for recipe inspiration. 

Second, there's a lot of great research linking health and nutrition as a way to boost and improve your mood. Look back at this post on "super foods" that nurture your body and mind! And, here are 6 ways that food affect your mental health. Moderation is key so let there be some fun and flavor in your life, too!

Third, take your new found love of the kitchen a step further and try out a local camp or class. Patricia's Table still has openings for summer camps. Foodie Kids and Kids Kitchen also offer camps and classes year round.

Lastly, enjoy the fruits of your labor! (Pun intended!)

moodiness: when is it more than just "being a teenager?"

The transition from tween to teen consists of emotional, mental, physical, social, familial, and academic changes. Teens often feel overwhelmed by changes and haven't yet learned the tools to cope in a healthy way.

Girls may be at risk for developing anxiety and mood-related health issues. An article by the Huffington Post describes the findings of several studies that find that girls are 2 times more like than boys to show signs of a mood disorder during the teen years, at 14-20 percent. The discrepancy continues to into adulthood, when women are twice as likely as men to have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Another article explores why we may be more likely to see signs of anxiety and depression in adolescent girls. Some potential risks include the biological changes and hormonal changes that occur during puberty as well as psychosocial pressures.

What do you look for in your tween or teen? Notice changes in appetite, signficant friendship losses or changes in peer groups, withdrawal from activities, and a loss of interest in formerly pleasurable pursuits. Irritability, tearfulness and mood swings can be hallmarks of adolescence, but can also be signs that something more serious is going on in your daughter's world. Check in with teachers, the school counselor and friends' parents to help build community support and keep tabs on any signficant changes in your daughter's behavior, demeanor and appearance.

Group and family therapy are supportive options to help destigmatize what your daughter is feeling, and learn healthy ways to cope with challenges. In group, girls learn that they are not alone in their struggle. In family work, girls learn how the whole family can be a support network and that her experiences and challenges are not occuring in a vacuum. With early intervention, girls can thrive through social and emotional challenges.