Love, Always

Business // Success

Super full schedule? Too much going on? Read this.

Here’s a 24-hour plan that can help you get through the world’s craziest workday—
and still keep your stress levels in check.

Chances are, you’ve read plenty of helpful books and blog posts filled with relaxation tips to help you get through stressful times.

Meditate, breathe deeply, count to ten, punch a pillow to release pent-up feelings, journal, do yoga… and so on.

These are all terrific ideas, but when you’re in the middle of a super-hectic workday it can be tough to remember to actually do them!

I can relate. I remember back when I was a law student, juggling intense coursework, commuting between Hawaii (home) and California (law school), feeling completely overwhelmed with my classes and my life, like I’d never, ever catch up. My brain was so full, my calendar was so packed. It was tough to remember to make time for self-care.

Sound a bit like you, these days?

Here’s a blog post that’s… a little bit different.

It’s a 24-hour plan that can help you get through even the craziest workday—while staying relaxed, focused and keeping your stress levels in check.

You can print out this plan and put it above your workspace.

Or you can “schedule” each of these activities into your calendar, just like a series of appointments (with yourself).

If you’re worried that won’t be enough (you’ll get distracted or you’ll forget), then you can set a timer on your phone that goes off every two hours, as indicated in the plan below. When your timer beeps, pause. It’s time for a de-stressing activity—a few minutes of self-care—before you move on with your day.

Over time, as you practice these kinds of self-care habits consistently, you won’t need so many “notes” and “reminders” to encourage you to take care of yourself. Over time, these habits will become second nature. But until that day, a few little nudges (from a printed plan or a timer on your phone) can really help you to stay on track.

Ready?

Here’s your 24-hour plan for a happy, healthy, beautifully productive day!

6am. Rise and shine! Start your day with The “Beautiful Morning” Meditation. It’s free. You’ll find it here. Take 12 minutes to breathe deeply, get into a positive frame of mind, and prepare for your busy, exciting day ahead.

8am. Drink a big glass of water. Did you know that dehydration can lead to tiredness, difficulty concentrating, tension, and anxiety? Drink an extra glass, knowing that you’re doing something really kind for your body and mind.

10am. Time to move! Chances are, you’ve been driving, commuting, or sitting at your desk for a few hours by now, so it’s time to get your heart pumping. Take a walk around the block or try a 10-minute yoga video. Need some motivation to exercise? This meditation might help. Exercising is one of the best ways to lower your body’s levels of cortisol—the “fight or flight” hormone that’s associated with stress. Move—even just a little bit—and your stress levels will drop.

12pm. Unplug for lunch. Enjoy a meal without any devices around you. No computer, no phone, no screen. Just savor your food. There are so many good reasons to step away from your desk when it’s time for lunch. (This article might inspire you!)

2pm. Check in with yourself. How is your day going? Has anything happened that bothered you? Anything stressing you out? If so, take a mental note (or write it down in a journal). Then: set those emotions aside—not forever, just for now. Tell yourself, “I am feeling _____, which doesn’t feel good, and that’s OK. I am going to explore the situation that’s bothering me—later—and deal with these emotions in a healthy way. For now, though, I am going to set the matter aside and get back to work.”

4pm. Time to move (again)! Sitting for multiple hours in a row is really rough on your body and mind. Researchers call sitting “the new smoking.” So, now’s a great time for another quick movement break. Zip around the block. Stand up and march in place for a few moments. Or, if you really, truly can’t get away from your desk—fidget, wiggle and bounce in your seat! It’s not much, but every little bit of movement helps.

6pm. Still at work? Set a “final hour” intention. Say to yourself, “I am going to work for one more hour. Obviously, I can’t finish everything in the entire world tonight—there will always be something more to do—but for the next hour, I will focus on ______. After that, I am done for the day.” By setting a clear intention for the final hour of your workday, you’ll avoid slipping into the “Oh, just one more email…” pattern and you’ll be more likely to leave work at a reasonable hour.

8pm. Process your day. If you’re feeling stressed or loaded with pent-up emotions (irritation, overwhelm, stress about work deadlines or studies), pounding it out, might be the perfect solution—literally. If that feels right, consider grabbing a pillow, going somewhere private, closing the door, and thwacking the pillow to release your feelings, safely, and get them out of your system. Many people find it helpful to vocalize—out loud—whatever’s bugging them as they punch the pillow (“I am so mad at ____ right now!!”) You probably won’t need to thwack for very long. You’ll know that you are “done” (at least, for now) when you feel a sense of release and relief. When you feel lighter. Your problems may even feel smaller and more manageable. Ahh. Time for a calm, restful night—and a great day tomorrow.

10pm – 6am. Lights out! It’s bedtime. It can be difficult when you’re in the midst of a busy, hectic workweek, but try to get as much sleep as you can. Sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on your mind and body, making it harder to focus, remember things, and manage your stress levels. So, don’t skimp on your sleep. It’s one of the biggest gifts you can give to yourself—and being well rested makes tomorrow’s challenges that much easier to manage!

If you don’t follow this 24-hour plan “perfectly,” guess what? That’s OK.

Even if you only remember to do one or two of the de-stressing activities I just mentioned, that is still better than nothing at all.

Every single time you “pause” your busy day to take care of yourself—even if all you do is drink a few sips of H2O (filtered, please!) or take one big, deep breath—you’re doing something beautiful for yourself, for your mind, for your body, and by extension, for everyone you meet: your community and the whole world.

I hope this plan inspires you to take excellent care of yourself, and to find new ways to keep your stress levels in check if that’s something you’re challenge with (many people are!).

Here is the beautiful truth:

Whether you are 17 or 107 years old, you are human, you are alive, you are not fixed in stone. You are capable of transformation. You can drop old habits and learn how to help yourself feel better. Any time that you’re ready to work on yourself, you can change.

It is never too late to tweak your daily routine, to change your mindset, to establish new habits, and to evolve into the kind of person you’ve always wanted to be.

Becoming that kind of person can begin… right now.

Wishing you the very best day, week, month (and year!) of your entire life.

Love, always.

xo.

Copyright © 2016 Dr. Suzanne Gelb. All rights reserved.

“What actually happens during a therapy session?”… and 6 other common questions about psychotherapy.

When you take your car to the car mechanic, you know what’s going to happen—your car will get repaired.

When you break a bone and visit your doctor, you know what’s going to happen—your bone will be set in a splint or cast and eventually heal.

But when you make an appointment to see a therapist, what’s going to happen?
Many people aren’t quite certain. “Will I have to talk a lot?” “Will I be “hypnotized?” “Will I have to discuss my childhood?” “What’s the “point” of seeing a therapist, anyway? Why not just talk to a friend?”

There is a great deal of uncertainty in our society about what actually happens during a therapy session, what types of issues and problems can be suitable for therapy, and the kinds of benefits that a therapy session can provide.

I’d like to address a few typical questions—and misconceptions—about what therapy is, and isn’t, and how it works.

Q: Do I have to be “sick” or “disturbed” to go see a therapist?

A: No. While some therapists do specialize in severe emotional disturbances—including schizophrenia or suicidal thoughts—many therapists focus on helping clients work through far more “typical” or “everyday” challenges—like mapping out a career change, or improving parenting skills, strengthening stress management tools, or navigating a divorce.

Thinking that one has to be “seriously disturbed” in order to see a therapist is a myth.

In fact, most of my clients are successful, high-achieving people who are quite healthy, overall, but who are challenged by a specific, personal goal—like losing weight, creating more work-life balance, finding ways to parent their children more effectively, feeling anxious about dating again after a rough break up, and so on.

Just like some physicians specialize in curing life-threatening illnesses, while others treat “everyday” illnesses like flus, coughs, and colds, psychotherapists can serve a very wide range of clients with a wide range of needs and goals, too.

Q: How can I choose the right therapist for my issue / goal / situation?

A: Choosing a therapist is just like choosing any other service provider—it’s a good idea to visit the professional’s website, read client testimonials or reviews (if they have any—many therapists do not, for confidentiality reasons), ask friends and family members (or your physician) for referrals, and of course, check to see who is included in your health insurance network.

If you are hoping to work on a specific issue—say, overeating, quitting smoking, making a career change, etc.—try to find a therapist who has expertise in that area. Many therapists list their “specialties” or “areas of focus” on their website. There are therapists who specialize in relationship issues, parenting issues, anger management, weight issues, or sexuality—pretty much most issues, goals, or situations that you can imagine.

If you’re not sure about someone’s zone of expertise, just call the therapist you’re considering and ask, “Do you have experience working with people who [describe your situation or goal]?” The therapist you’re contacting will let you know, and if they can’t be of assistance, they may be able to refer you to someone who can.

Q: What actually happens during a therapy session?

A: Each therapy session is, essentially, a “problem solving session.” You describe your current situation, and your feelings about that situation, and then the therapist uses their expertise to assist you in trying to resolve that problem so you can move closer to having the life you wish to have.

At the beginning of a session, the therapist invariably begins by inviting you to share what’s been going on in your life, what’s on your mind, what’s bothering you, any goals you’d like to discuss—things like that.

You’ll be invited to speak openly. The therapist will listen and may take notes as you speak (some therapists, like myself, take notes after the session). You won’t be criticized, interrupted or judged as you speak. Your conversation will be kept in the strictest confidentiality. This is a special, unique type of conversation where you can say exactly what you feel—total honesty—without worrying that you’re going to hurt someone’s feelings, damage a relationship, or be penalized in any way. Anything you want—or need—to say is OK!

Some therapists (like myself) often give clients some “homework” to complete after a session. Depending on your goals, your homework might be to set up an online dating profile and bravely set up your first date, or exercise three times a week, or spend some time each day pounding a pillow to safely release pent-up emotions, or make a nightly journal entry, or any number of other “steps” and “challenges” that are relevant to your goals. Then during your next therapy session, you might give a homework-update, share your progress, and address any areas where you got frustrated, stuck, or somehow off-track.

Of course, every therapist is different, every client is different, and every therapist-client relationship is different, too. Which means that there is no universal description of a therapy session, either. Some therapists incorporate dream interpretation into their work. Others incorporate music or art therapy practices into their work. Others incorporate hypnotherapy, life coaching, meditation, visualization, role-playing exercises to “rehearse” challenging conversations—the list goes on and on. Ultimately—regardless of their approach—a therapist will listen without judgment and help clients try to find solutions to problems or challenges that they are facing.

Q: Will I have to talk about my childhood?

A: Not necessarily. Many people think that visiting a therapist means “digging up” old skeletons from your childhood, or talking about how “awful” your mother was, and so on. That is a myth. What you talk about during a therapy session will largely depend on your unique situation and goals.

Depending on your goals, you may not talk about your “past” that much. The focus of your therapy more on your present-day reality and the future that you wish to create.

That being said, if you REALLY do NOT want to discuss your childhood, the intensity of your desire to NOT talk about it might suggest that, maybe, you should! When people have strong negative emotions—about their childhood or any other topic—it’s typically worth doing some excavating to figure out why that is, because whatever is causing them to feel such strong emotions about the past is more than likely impacting their present-day life in some way, too.

Q: How long will I have to go to therapy?

A: This varies from person to person. I’ve had clients who booked one session we worked out their issue(s), and they were all set! They marched ahead and didn’t need a follow up session. Sometimes, one brave, honest conversation is all that’s needed!

Other clients have booked sessions with me over a period of several weeks or months, focusing on one issue, resolving that issue, then perhaps moving on to a different challenge. Then there are other clients who I’ve been working with for some time—they appreciate having a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly “check-in” to share their feelings, sharpen their life skills as needed, and perhaps enjoy a deeply nourishing, guided meditation or hypnotherapy experience to de-stress. As one client aptly put it, “Each time I meet with you every two weeks, I leave your office feeling like you pressed my reset button!”

Therapy is really about whatever a client needs—a one-time conversation, a temporary source of support during a tricky life transition, or an ongoing experience to optimized health—physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Whatever frequency / duration of support is uniquely best for you is what can be set up.

Q: Is meeting with a therapist over the phone—or through video-chat—just as effective as meeting in person?

A: That depends on your personality and preferences. In the State of Hawaii, where I live, doing therapy virtually, via video-chat (like Skype or Facetime) is covered by at least one insurer that I know of, making it a convenient option for people.

Many of my clients enjoy having some—or all—of their sessions via video-chat because it means they don’t have to take time out of their busy schedules to drive, park, and so on. They can just close their bedroom or office door, pick up the phone or log in, and away we go! Very convenient.

Where feasible, I suggest trying out both ways—do a traditional, in person therapy session and then do a video session—and see which format is the best fit for you.

Q: Why see a therapist? Why not just talk to a friend or someone in my family?

A: If you are blessed with caring, supportive family members and friends, by all means, share your feelings, goals, and dreams with those people. They are a part of your support network, and their insights and encouragement can be very helpful!

However, people who already know you might not always be completely “unbiased” or “objective” when listening to you. For example, if you want to change your career, and you confess this dream to your wife, she may want to support you one hundred percent, and she may try her very best to do so, but she may also be dealing with emotions of her own—fear, anxiety, thoughts like “How will this change our life?” “What about our income?” “Will we have to move?” and so on. These emotions could make it difficult for her to listen and support you objectively.

That’s why working with a therapist can be so valuable. When you speak with a therapist, you have a unique opportunity to share everything you’re feeling, and everything you want to create, without anyone interrupting you, imposing his or her own anxieties onto you, or telling you that you’re “wrong” or that you “can’t.”

A therapy session is a space where you don’t have to worry about hurting anyone else’s feelings, which means you can be totally honest, which means that problems have the potential to be solved faster and with greater success. In the long run? That’s better for you and for everyone else who’s involved in your life, too.

To sum it up:

Therapy is a valuable tool that can help you to solve problems, set and achieve goals, improve your communication skills, teach you new ways to track your emotions and keep your stress levels in check, and help you to build the life, career, and relationships that you want.

Therapy is appropriate for people dealing with “severe” issues, as well as people dealing with more “typical” or “everyday” challenges, too. There’s a therapist for just about every type of challenge, situation, goal or need under the sun!

Does everybody “need” therapy? No. But if you are curious about working with a therapist, that curiosity is worth pursuing! Consider setting up one or two sessions, keep an open mind, and see how things unfold.

You have very little to lose and, potentially, a whole lot of clarity, focus, self-understanding, and long-lasting happiness to gain.

Ready to meet with a therapist?

You can contact me about possibly setting up a session with me here.

If I do not participate with your insurance plan, but you’d still like to work with me, check out this page, which details my life coaching services—somewhat different from therapy, but suitable for diverse types of clients and goals.

Want to find a therapist in your own city? Here’s a database—from the American Psychotherapy Association—where you can begin your search. Or log into your health insurance carrier’s website and search there.

Love, always.

xo.

This article was originally published online on Psychology Today and then on The Huffington Post.  To read more of my articles in my column on Psychology Today, click here and on The Huffington Post, click here.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always contact your physician or health provider before beginning any new personal development or wellness technique and with your questions have about your well-being.

Copyright © 2015 Dr. Suzanne Gelb, All rights reserved.

YOU are the best investment you’ll ever make.

“Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.” –Robin S. Sharma

Like Robin, I am a big believer in the power of “self-investment.”

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I invest in myself by reading books and articles that inspire me, by working with teachers and mentors who expand my world, by making time for my daily exercise, by eating the best possible food that I can, by socializing with dear friends who enrich my life, by getting enough sleep, and by taking steps to keep my stress levels in check (de-stressing is probably my most important self-investment!).

Have I always functioned in this way? Nope! I’ve certainly had years where I didn’t invest in myself very consistently or lovingly—and the quality of my life suffered as a result.

I definitely know what it feels like to be running on empty, feeling frenzied and behind on my work, telling myself I don’t “deserve” good food, nice experiences, time to rest, or compassionate treatment from myself and others. Ohhh yes. I’ve been there.

I’m grateful that I no longer hear those types of self-critical thoughts pummeling through my mind every day, and I’m grateful that I’ve learned a new way of “being.” Today, I know that I deserve love and respect from myself and others, every day, no matter what. Today, I know that investing in myself isn’t “selfish” or “vain.” Investing in myself is crucial. It’s what keeps me going strong!

How about you?

What is your favorite way to invest in yourself?

Do you invest in yourself often enough?

What is something you’ve been meaning to start doing—or do with more consistency?

As we move into the holiday season, when life tends to feel especially hectic and bustling, I invite you to make a list of 4 or 5 ways that you can, and will, invest in yourself.

Your list might look something like this:

Throughout the rest of 2015, I will invest in myself by…

—Starting each morning with three deep, full breaths.
—Listening to a calming meditation (just five minutes long) if my day starts to feel frantic.
—Making time for at least two workouts per week—and I will schedule these in advance!
—Spending at least one hour per week reading a book or an article purely for inspiration and enjoyment—any genre or topic that I want.
—[And so on…]

Try to keep your list of self-investments simple and attainable.

You don’t have to commit to an intensive 30-day yoga challenge or start cooking 100% organic at every meal. It’s OK to start small. Just like adding two dollars to a jar every day for a whole year, small investments add up.

However you decide to “invest” in yourself—through coaching, therapy, training, education, new books, nourishing food, more rest, new habits, healthier routines, or anything else you might choose to do, remember this, always:

YOU are the best investment you’ll ever make.

Be well & have a beautiful holiday season!

Love, always.

xo.

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PS. To say thank you for being one of my lovely subscribers or simply for reading this article—and to offer some extra sweetness and support for your holiday season—all of my Life Guides are just $15 each from now until the end of December. That’s $10 less than you’d normally invest.

(When you purchase, type in this OFFER CODE: holiday special). Happy holidays!

There’s a Life Guide for people who are trying to lose weight, a Life Guide on how to get your kid to cooperate, a Life Guide to help you find work that you love, and Life Guides covering several other topics. Eleven topics in total.

You can browse through the complete collection of Life Guides right over here, and listen to some sample audio, too. Enjoy this little “investment” in your health, happiness, stress management, and emotional wellbeing. Thank you!

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always contact your physician or health provider before beginning any new personal development or wellness technique and with your questions about your well-being.

Copyright © 2015 Dr. Suzanne Gelb, All rights reserved.

This article was originally published online on Psychology Today and then on The Huffington Post.  To read more of my articles in my column on Psychology Today, click here and on The Huffington Post, click here.
Photo credit (top): Beauty & Brains via photopin (license)
Photo credit (bottom): green.bow via photopin (license)

 

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