savannah

Beating the Back to School Blues

Photo by  moren hsu  on  Unsplash

Photo by moren hsu on Unsplash

Are you dreading going back to school? Trust me, I’m well acquainted with this feeling. From elementary school all the way up through college, it’s a feeling that doesn’t (and probably won’t) go away. Because with the end of summer comes a specific type of grief that comes from the loss of the glorious freedom of endless days with no obligations. And let me assure you that this is a valid loss that is important to grieve. The changing of seasons is always bittersweet, so give yourself space to feel all the feelings, and also know you’re not alone in feeling them. Here’s some helpful tips to soothe those back to school blues, and hopefully set you up for a successful and fulfilling new school year. 

  1. Marie Kondo Yourself: If you haven’t heard of the KonMari Method, then take a moment and look it up- trust me, it’s worth a quick google to find out how a woman’s name turned into a verb. The basis of this method is to rid your life of clutter, or things that no longer serve you. While it could be helpful to use this method for your bedroom or your school supplies, I mostly mean this in a metaphoric sense. Before going back to school, take a look at all of your habits, your routines, your relationships, your coping skills. Take a deep loving deep breath and lay them all on the table in front of you. Now slowly pick up each one and ask yourself- Does this serve me? Does this bring me joy? Is this in line with what I value? If the answer is yes, great- place it in the metaphoric “keep” pile, if it’s a no- say “thank you, next” and send it on its way. 

  1. Set Your Intentions: Grab a notebook, a few post-it notes, or open your notes app. You’ll need something to jot down your thoughts, and a way to keep your notes visible throughout the year. Ask yourself, “What do I want to get out of this school year? How do I want this school year to feel? In what ways do I want to grow this school year?” Capture your thoughts and set your intentions. Maybe it’s just one word, maybe it’s a list of things, whatever your intentions are, make sure that they are realistic and they are in line with what you value. Tape them on your mirror, save them as your phone lock screen, place them anywhere that you can be frequently reminded of these intentions. 

  1. Gratitude Gratitude Gratitude: It may seem like nothing about a new school year is good, and that there is no possible room for gratitude, but I’m a firm believer that there is always something worth being grateful for in every situation. Maybe you get to see a friend you missed over the summer, maybe you get to wear some new shoes, maybe you get to practice a sport and see your teammates again? However tiny it may be, I invite you to find one thing that you can cultivate gratitude towards during this new school year. Research has proven time and time again that gratitude helps us decrease stress hormones, sleep better at night, improve self esteem, and even can increase our physical health. 

Practicing Peace Amidst Chaos

Photo by  Liana Mikah  on  Unsplash

Photo by Liana Mikah on Unsplash

Change can feel generative, restorative, and exciting; while at the same time feeling terrifying, unpredictable, and like you’ve lost control. With the changing of life seasons, relationships, or jobs it can feel like you’re on a boat in the middle of a tumultuous sea, being tossed about and clinging for dear life. Not having a say in a major life change leaves us feeling powerless, and at times grieving and hopeless. So how can we stay calm when we feel we’ve lost our power? Here’s a few small yet practical steps that have proven successful for myself and my clients.

  1. Reflect on what you can control and what you can’t - A thought exercise I frequently do with clients is to have them draw out two concentric circles (one inside of the other). In the outer circle list all of the things that you have no control over- such as the weather, other people’s words and actions, illness, job markets, etc. Then on the inside circle list the things that you do have control over- such as your actions, what you say, what you eat, how you react to someone else, and what you think. So often we are focused on the things in the outer circle, and desperately want power over things that are just frankly impossible to control. This leaves us stuck spinning our wheels feeling frustrated and burnt out. By shifting our focus to what we do have control over, we can start to remember that we do in fact have power over many aspects of our lives.

  2. Create a routine, and stick to it (as much as you can) - When things seem upended and unhinged it’s important to establish at least one or two consistent things in our day to day life to keep us grounded. A routine can be as simple as making your bed and walking your dog every morning, despite the chaos of what the rest of the day may bring. It could look like carving out 30 minutes every evening to talk and connect with your partner before bed. Make sure it’s realistic, and try to stick to it as much as possible, while also giving yourself permission to miss a day or two.

  3. Ask for help - You are one person, and even though you may not realize it, you do in fact have a capacity for how much you can handle on your own. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I urge you to reach out and ask for help. Ask for help watching your kids, proof reading a resume, taking care of errands, or just having a loved one spend time with you and offer a listening ear. Asking for help takes a lot of courage, and it is worth it. And when someone offers help- accept it! People find joy and meaning through supporting people they care about, so remember that you are not a burden.

  4. Prioritize your time and energy - There is only so much time in the day, and when we have a lot on our plate to deal with we frequently find ourselves left with no energy and no time left to take care of ourselves. Make it a point to figure out what is most important to right now in this season and focus on that. Make time to take care of yourself- sleeping and eating are essential. Ask yourself “what people in my life help me feel valued, rejuvenated, or understood?” and invest your time with those people. Remember that it is okay- and healthy in fact!- to say no to someone. If you don’t have enough time or emotional energy, make that clear and prioritize yourself and what’s important to you.

  5. Cultivate a mantra/ positive affirmation/ mindfulness practice - When we’ve got a lot on our minds, it’s way too easy to go through the day without connecting to our breath or quieting our brains. Mindfulness doesn’t need to look like an hour long meditation or full yoga flow. It can look like taking a deep breath first thing in the morning and trying to think of at least one thing that you’re thankful for. Keep it simple, and realistic. Having some kind of positive mantra can be a big help in times of change, because it can keep you connected to what you value. See the poem below for an example of a mantra that helps keep me grounded.

I hope that by taking care of yourself, you begin to feel a little more anchored in the middle of a sea of chaos. You may not be able to stop the waves of change, but you can control how you react to them. I want to leave you with a prayer/meditation/poem that helps me to remain grounded and open handed when it comes to change. When I read this I like to sit with actual open hands, palms facing up and symbolizing a release of the ways I fight against things I have no control over, and rest in the things that I can control- my thoughts and my actions. The Welcoming Prayer is by Father Thomas Keating, and although it has been used traditionally in spiritual settings, I invite you to adapt it to fit whatever best helps bring you into a place of peace. Swap the word God for anything that resonates meaningfully with you- nature, the universe, your own inner strength, peace, a loved one, etc.

Welcome, welcome, welcome.

I welcome everything that comes to me today

because I know it's for my healing.

I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons,

situations, and conditions.

I let go of my desire for power and control.

I let go of my desire for affection, esteem,

approval and pleasure.

I let go of my desire for survival and security.

I let go of my desire to change any situation,

condition, person or myself.

I open to the love and presence of God* (or nature, the universe, your own inner strength, peace, a loved one, etc.)

Meet Savannah!

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Hi there! 

I’m so excited to join the GT Therapy team and I’m eager to share more with you about my journey as a therapist. I grew up in the delightfully small town of Tomball, TX, a rural suburb of Houston. Ever since my days as a “peer mediator” in elementary school, I knew that I wanted to be a therapist. I loved helping other classmates sort out their problems (and getting to miss class probably didn’t hurt). My heart has always had a special place for kiddos and families. When I was in high school I babysat and taught ballet to three year olds, and in college I worked at a preschool and nannied. 

I studied social work at the University of Texas as an undergrad, which sparked my passion for mental health and social justice. From there I went straight into graduate school for social work at UT, eager to continue honing my skills as a clinician and advocate. After graduating with my Masters of Science in Social Work, I worked in various jobs within the non profit world, supporting and training foster parents, facilitating group and individual counseling to survivors of domestic and sexual assault, offering family counseling and play therapy for children, and working as a school based therapist in middle and high schools across the Austin area. I’ve lived in Austin for quite a while now, and there’s no place I’d rather be. I love spending time outside with my dog Boone, catching up with friends over a meal, and when at all possible- not taking life too seriously.

I am so thankful for a career where I get to connect with people, hear their unique stories, and offer them genuine empathy. Getting to see my clients grow in self compassion, laugh with me (or sometimes at me), communicate more effectively, or mend a broken relationship makes my so heart happy. I’m continually inspired by the people that choose to take the brave step toward healing and seek out therapy, and am so thankful for each of the clients I have the privilege of working with. If you want to take the next step toward healing, please reach out, as I’d be honored to walk with you on your journey.