CALLING HEROINES OF ALL AGES!!
Are You Ready to Embark on a New Adventure?
Meet the Cast & Crew!
HEED THE CALL TO ADVENTURE TODAY!
CLICK LINK TO VIEW AN EXCERPT FROM Book I of THE ADVENTURES OF ISABELLE
CALLING HEROINES OF ALL AGES!!
Are You Ready to Embark on a New Adventure?
Meet the Cast & Crew!
HEED THE CALL TO ADVENTURE TODAY!
CLICK LINK TO VIEW AN EXCERPT FROM Book I of THE ADVENTURES OF ISABELLE
Do you need help breaking through blocks such as fear? Do you need help creating and sticking to a success plan? Have you started and stalled several times? Maybe you need a success coach to help you break through these blocks, create a viable plan and to help hold you accountable to this plan so you can achieve ultimate success and joy in your life.
Contact me TODAY to get started! firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.669.5777
A word on overcoming societal challenges…
Contact me TODAY to schedule a FREE 30 min consultation. email@example.com or 202.669.5777
These last few years, in particular, have taken a toll on many people’s mental health, so now more than ever, you need to engage in all facets of self-care.
This is why I’m sharing this helpful Emotional Wellness Checklist with 6 tips from the National Institutes of Health that you can download and use! I recommend you download the checklist and see how you are doing with your emotional well-being.
It addresses 6 actions you can take to improve your mental health:
Pro-Tip: Be of Service!
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Volunteering reduces stress and increases positive, relaxed feelings by releasing dopamine.” But you don’t even have to have an actual volunteer position to get these benefits. Just helping out a friend, family member or doing a good deed for a stranger can lead to you feeling good about yourself and the world. It also helps you to focus less on your problems by getting you outside yourself. If you don’t already do this, give it a try and let me know how you feel.
I hope you found this post helpful. Feel free to drop me a line with your thoughts and if you are interested in a 25-minute Free Consultation visit my page at Psychology Today!
Click here for more FREE SUCCESS TOOLS!
It’s been a minute since I’ve had a chance to exercise my travel blogging fingers. This quick trip to Negril for a romantic and restorative Valentine’s celebration was divine, giving me a chance to do some writing and collect some great images. I will be reviewing two hotels, spa services, a SCUBA outfit and now that I’ve accepted that I’m a “foody” I’ve added a few restaurant reviews! The rest of this post will be images and words that I hope capture my love of Jamaica, the land that inspired the kingdom of my fictional heroine, Princess Isabelle of Xamayca.
Let’s just start off with one of my favorite things to experience when I travel, the food!
Of all the ways to experience a culture, food may be my favorite. I would put Jamaican food up against any of the world’s cuisines! And don’t get me started on the fresh fruit you get in Jamaica! As my cousin said when I told her about the sweet Julie mango I had on the beach, “You forget.” What she meant is that when you eat a mango here (in the States) and think it’s good it’s only because your taste buds forgot what a real mango tastes like! As usual, I had several delicious meals in Negril. I also had one really terrible one and a slightly above-average one.
Let’s get the terrible one out of the way first: the so-called “Jamaican breakfast” served to me at the restaurant at our hotel Idle Awhile on the cliffs. It was not on the menu so I was overjoyed when our server told me, “The chef can make a traditional Jamaican breakfast.” I love the traditional JA breakfast; ackee and saltfish, boiled yam, boiled green banana, calaloo, fried breadfruit, fried or boiled dumpling. I couldn’t wait but when the chef laid it before me and informed me, “I don’t cook with a lot of salt or spices because it’s not good for you,” I started to worry. My worry was not unfounded. Even with my addition of salt the meal tasted like nothing! All the foods I named above need to be seasoned! Who ever heard of a Jamaican chef NOT using spices?! Did he look at me and determine I had high blood pressure? (I don’t!), did he think I was an American and had uneducated taste buds? Was he just a terrible cook? Whatever the reason I was very disappointed. I get a little angry thinking about it now, so let’s move on!
To my slightly above-average meal, we go to The Pushcart restaurant at The Rock House (one of my favorite hotels in Negril). The last time I’d eaten at the Pushcart was 7 yrs ago and I recall eating the curry goat almost every night, so this time I was excited to have it again. Sadly, I needn’t have been. Aside from being spicy (read hot) there was just something missing! The amount of meat was ample (I’d heard another diner complain to the manager about the amount of bone) but the flavor just wasn’t there! I’m not ready to indict the Pushcart just yet, but until I return I’m not going to give it the former glowing recommendation that I used to.
Now, on to the most delightful epicurean experiences I had while in Jamaica! Save for the Juici pattie on the way to Kingston and the Julie mango on the beach, Zest restaurant at The Cliffs Hotel provided these delightful experiences. Where do I start? How about with the first meal we took there? It was dinner on our second night and I had the Appleton braised oxtail with white rice and calaloo. Freedom (my girlfriend) had the rasta pasta. Both were delicious but when I say this is the best oxtail I’ve ever had I’m not exaggerating. It was perfectly spicey and sweet (yes oxtail can be a little sweet). If you don’t like oxtail or don’t eat meat look away. This oxtail had a generous amount of meat (versus bone and fat) and the perfect bite could be formed out of some white rice and a little callaloo on your fork. My only concern is that henceforth any oxtail I eat will be compared to this one and be found sorely lacking! The rasta pasta (no meat) was also delicious; penne pasta in a light cream sauce with mushrooms, ackee and other veg. For dessert that night we split the scotch bonnet cheesecake. If you are not familiar with scotch bonnet, it is a type of pepper, very popular in Jamaica. With a heat rating of 100,000-350,000 Scoville units, the scotch bonnet can be up to 40 times hotter than a typical jalapeño pepper. I was intrigued by its use in a dessert and I have to say my curiosity paid off. It was delicious! Not too spicy but just the perfect balance of heat and sweet. My only complaint? I wanted more.
My number two meal was also eaten at Zest. For dinner on our last night I chose the coconut lobster rundown. For those who don’t know what rundown is, it’s a type of stew dish made from coconut milk and any variety of fish or seafood that you choose. It originated in Jamaica but can now be found all over the Caribbean and parts of Central and South America. This particular dish used spiny lobster served in the shell (just for presentation, you could lift it out) and with bits of sweet potato, and other veggies. It too came with a side of white rice. The lobster was tender and again just the right balance of sweet and savory. For dessert that night we had their key lime pie (they were out of the scotch bonnet cheesecake) which was also very good!
Lunches from Zest were also amazing. These we took out on the cliffs on our own little private “pads” which were round concrete platforms build out on the craggy rocks connected by stone and wooden walkways. Free twice had their Jahpotle bowl made of ackee, faro, quinoa, black bean and corn salsa, barbecue jackfruit topped with a few plantain chips. I had the watermelon salad (all their salads were very fresh and tasty) and one day I had breadfruit fish tacos. The taco shell was made from thinly sliced and fried breadfruit! Delicious!! I really can’t say enough for the food and service at Zest and The Cliffs but if you get a chance to go there and eat, just do it!
I’m not sure if it started with Aquaman but for as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be able to breathe underwater. Until I develop gills I’m going to get my undersea fix doing what one of my childhood heroes, Jacques Cousteau did, SCUBA diving. In case you aren’t picking up on it, I’ve had a fascination and love for the sea and its creatures since I was a kid. I never tire of being in the water whether it’s swimming, snorkeling, or SCUBA diving and when I visit tropical climates I always try to go diving. Negril, because of its crystal clear waters, is one of my favorite places to dive. Like the last time I was in Jamaica in 2015, I hooked up with Negril Adventure Divers. Ryan Edwards, the owner and I have kept in touch since my last visit and I was excited to see my friend again. I was also very happy to see that Negril Adventure Divers had weathered COVID because this had been a very tough time for the tourism industry. They picked us up around 8:30 and brought us to the dive shop for a two-tank dive. Check out my vids below of the two sites: Spadefish Reef and Throne Room!
Rest, Relaxation & Rejuvenation:
Next up on our tour of Negril is the reason we go on holiday: R & R but admittedly it’s hard to balance this with my need to see and do. That’s one of the advantages of going to Negril for me. I’ve been there so often that the need to be a tourist is fairly weak. I still love to do things like SCUBA dive, horseback ride and take excursions but this was a short trip. Both Free and I were in need of just chillin’ so although diving was a priority for me, we let go of doing too much touring. Opportunities to lay on the beach or cliffs in a hammock or lounge chair in the sun or shade is why tourists the world over have flocked to Jamaica and the Caribbean forever. To just lay outdoors listening to the ocean, wind people and animals is divinely pleasurable. There is a unique scent in Jamaica, a sweetness often tinged with the smokey smell of burning trash that I love! Anywhere I may be in the world if I smell that smokey smell I’m instantly transported to Jamaica. At night the air is often perfumed with the smell of blooming flowers and the sounds of tree frogs lull you to sleep. And what can be better than to sit on the cliffs and look out over the cerulean sea under a bright blue sky? Getting a massage in this environment is the answer! I was blessed to have two opportunities to do just this.
First stop, Tanya’s Secret Escape. I encountered Tanya’s services back in 2015, the last time I was in Negril, and had done a Women-Owned Business Wednesday feature on her (see Tanya’s Secret Escape feature). I’d been to her place and she’d come to the house. Before this trip, I’d called ahead to book for the second day there. I was overjoyed to learn she too had weathered the storm of COVID and was still in business. I knew she was still there because a cousin of mine visits her place regularly when in Negril. One of the best things about Tanya’s is the location. It’s on the cliffs overlooking the sea, a lush little property. The massage area is an open bamboo structure with a thatched roof and the scrubbing area is a separate concrete structure with a treatment table and shower. The relaxation area (which doubles as the outdoor massage area) is a concrete deck built into the limestone on the edge of the cliff overlooking the sea. The sound of the waves crashing on the rocks below makes for a great meditation soundtrack. After my very thorough scrub, Tanya wrapped me in plastic wrap to let the oils she’d used soak into my skin. It was good for me to lay still for 15 mins and just be. After this, she rinsed me off with cold water (to close my pores)! It was now time for our massages so still wet, with a sheet wrapped around me I hurried to the relaxation area. The sun was starting to make her descent as Tanya and her massage therapist set up our tables. It was a bit windy and chilly but even with this, I was falling asleep on the table as the stars were coming out. When we were finished we sat on the massage tables and just took in the beauty of the night sky and the sound of the sea. Lovely. The objective: total relaxation, was achieved. If you have a chance to visit Tanya’s I recommend it highly. Very professional and reasonably priced $60/1 hr massage! Just be sure to check availability ahead of time, bc she’s pretty popular! But, she’s very responsive via the contact info on her website: Tanya’s Secret Escape
Next stop, KiYara Spa on The Cliff. After driving into Kingston on Valentine’s Day to visit my aunt and uncle we’d arrived at our last full day. My agenda for that day was to stay close to home, relax and spend as much time in the ocean as possible. I decided to start with a massage at The Cliff’s spa and I’m so glad I did. After my therapist met me in the gift shop in the hotel’s lobby I followed her through the pristine and now very familiar grounds of the hotel, past the pool, the parasol-shaped almond trees, down the steps, past the bar and then to a magical looking wooden gate. Almond, sea grape and other trees formed a shady tunnel of branches over the short walkway that led to the treatment room. Once inside I looked around. My eyes delighted in the touches of bright color, the blue-green pareo that lay on the table, the magenta bougainvillea that floated in the soapy water of the foot bath, were sprinkled on the table and rested in a bright white conch shell. The room was soothing, simply adorned with ecru walls, sea-blue cabinets, white columns. An open shower with a stone-tiled floor stood off to one side. Best of all, the view. My head faced the open side, white curtains blowing in the breeze framed a perfect view of sea grapes and beyond that the deep blue ocean and lighter blue sky. Unlike the night on the cliffs at Tanya’s, it was a warm day and I had no trouble relaxing right away as I lay face down on the table taking deep breaths and releasing, letting go into the capable hands of Tanecia, the massage therapist. About 15 mins into the massage, once I realized how talented she was, I asked her if she could extend my 60 mins to 90. It was well worth it. After my treatment, I floated out of the room and back down the covered walkway. The rest of the day was spent sunning on the cliff, swimming and having lunch from Zest before we watched the sunset for the last time (on this trip).
Lastly, I will be reviewing the hotel at which we stayed along with the hotel next door at which we spent most of our time. After much confusion and false starts at the Montego Bay airport, we finally obtained a driver to take us to our hotel: Idle Awhile on the Cliffs.
Even though the travel agent had arranged transportation several drivers were unable to take us because where we were staying is far out on the West End in Negril and the small roads don’t accommodate buses. So we had to find a driver with a smaller vehicle. We finally got on a van. I was excited to get going because it was already late in the day. We’d arrived around 3:45. But taking off for the hotel wasn’t meant to be. We had to wait for the van to fill up with other passengers which unfortunately included what turned out to be the loudest family ever! Three adults, one teenager (probably to babysit) and like 50 kids! Okay more like 4 but they shouted across the bus the entire time. And, although they had come from Argentina for only a week they had the hugest suitcases I’ve ever seen! Free has a lot more patience and tolerance than I so she was laughing but I was ready to start throwing children off the bus! Luckily, their hotel was the first stop so the rest of the drive was quite pleasant, watching the beautiful shoreline and countryside roll by. After two more stops, we were finally nearing our hotel. We were driving into a rainstorm that we were still under when we arrived at our hotel around 7:00 in the evening. Luckily someone had waited for us in the little enclosed gazebo that is the reception desk (I was later to find that they closed and shuttered the front office around 5:00). He was nice enough to tell us that the restaurant was closed/closing but he could quickly put in a dinner order for us to be brought to the room. That was very nice!
Through the now lightly falling rain, a porter brought our bags to the room. The way this property is laid out there are small tropical apartment blocks with four units each: two downstairs and two upstairs. We were in an upstairs unit in the garden. The gardens were very lovely and our balcony looked out into the trees and down into the garden. When we entered our hotel room we were a bit surprised to be entering into a small kitchen (this had not been shown on the website). Past the little kitchen is the room. The floor was covered in blue tile with a king-sized bed, the room was a decent size. The bathroom also ample space with a tile-covered walk-in shower. The balcony wrapped around and a hammock was hung on one side. The layout and decor of the room had potential BUT the problem was that everything looked old and worn. The room was in desperate need of a makeover and freshen-up. The safe didn’t work, no batteries and no one ever fixed it. This last point brings me to the service at Idle Awhile.
My amazing birthday adventure to explore some of Mexico’s beautiful cenotes, beaches, and archeological sites on the Yucatan Peninsula! Of course, I can’t leave out food and other forms of fun in the sun, not to mention cavorting with dolphins!!
In part 2 vid (above) you see Cenote Dos Ojos. In part 3 (below) we visit a magical oasis in the middle of the Yucatan jungle!
The day after my birthday we went to the Tulum Archeological Zone. It was an excruciatingly hot and muggy day and the sun beat down on us mercilessly most of the time. I was so happy when grey clouds formed and a light rain cooled us off even if it was only for a few mins. The ruins themselves were really something to see and I enjoyed learning about the Mayan civilization and the Mayans, who by the way, still exist.
On our last full day in Quintana Roo we wanted to check out the cenotes right across the street from our hotel including Cenote Azul. It was recommended that we take a cab and we did and I’m glad to say that we thought to ask the driver which cenotes he recommended. He did not recommend Azul or the park across the street. He said they were small and overcrowded (which makes sense because they are popular with tourists). He instead recommended Ecopark Kantun Chi which was just as close because of the one-way highway in front of the hotel. It was a magical place! My only regret is that we had not found it sooner because I would have loved to have gone there every day! Check out my vids below of this lush oasis containing five cenotes!
Escaping DC in January to head to a tropical climate is never a bad idea! I’d never been to St. Lucia so when a friend suggested we go I jumped at the chance to experience a new place. St. Lucia, an island nation in the Eastern Caribbean covers an area of 238 sq miles. It’s also a part of the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles. Its history is fascinating and its geography breathtaking. But, I’m guessing you aren’t reading my travelogue for a geography lesson. This trip, while a chance to take a much-needed respite from work was all about, what else? Adventure! Please check out my vids below and share your comments. And if you like travel, adventure, and nature please subscribe to my youtube channel where you will find more! If you would like to attend a Vision Quest Retreat join our mailing list!
Join me on part 1 of my St. Lucia Adventure: SCUBA diving with Eastern Caribbean Diving Ltd., horseback riding at Holiday Riding Stables, and the first part of our journey on the Spirit of Carnival southward along St. Lucia’s western coast to the Pitons, then back to Soufriere, Anse Cochon Bay and Marigot Bay.
In part 2 we continue to take in Soufriere’s sulfur spring/mud bath, wash off under Toraille waterfall, go snorkeling off Anse Cochon Beach and burn off our tasty lunch by learning some local dances aboard ship! Oh, and I take the helm of the Spirit of Carnival.
PART 3 SOON COME!
Saying 2020 has been a rough year would no doubt win the “Understatement of the Year Award” so I won’t bother making a case for the need for a sabbatical. I will say that the past few months starting on May 25th (my birthday) and the day George Floyd was murdered have been particularly intense. Not only have I been dealing with my own anger and pain over the continued racial injustice in the US, but my work has been nonstop. Organizations in need of help with diversity, equity and inclusion and individuals in need of help staying sane have been calling on me. I’ve been honored and grateful to be able to be of use during this time but in order to be my most effective self, I also have to practice what I preach. Everything I do from individual therapy/coaching to organizational consulting is built on the belief that well-being is paramount and self-care imperative.
So, when I started to recognize my need for a mini-sabbatical to rest and recharge but also to work on Book III of The Adventures of Isabelle I chose to honor that and I’m so glad I have! While I love to write travelogues it would be too much to try and rest and write and keep up with a written account of my adventures so I have done the next thing I love to do which is take pics and vids and make travel videos. They are included in this post with a smattering of writing here and there. I hope you enjoy watching them as much as I enjoyed experiencing the moments and creating the videos! Oh, and if you need help planning or executing your own mini-sabbatical give me a shout at Vision Quest Retreats with Dr. Nicole Cutts.
After eight lovely head-clearing days on Cape Cod (a place I’d never been before), I headed to Martha’s Vineyard for Part II or my mini-sabbatical & writing retreat. I looked forward to the beautiful landscapes, spending quality time on the beach and really getting down to writing. The 1-hour drive to the Woods Hole Steamship Authority port was easy and uneventful. I looked forward to the ferry ride to Vineyard Haven. I love boats of any kind and this particular one always feels as if I’m crossing the threshold. The ferry ride feels romantic and dreamlike and puts me in the proper mental place for writing.
September 22, 2020 the first day of Autumn and it’s an overcast, chilly windy day but I still enjoy venturing out to nearby Lambert’s Cove after a morning of writing. The next day’s weather isn’t much better but it’s a perfect day to sit by the window and write. One of the neighborhood flocks of wild turkey amble across the yard at one point. I take a walk in the afternoon down the street to the little beach next to the yacht club: Owen Little Way beach, where I’m delighted by some colorful flora and a gorgeous sunset while I sit on the little pier (see vid below).
In these turbulent times, many people are feeling sad, angry, despondent and frankly traumatized. This is affecting our mental and physical health as well as our work, as we find it difficult to concentrate. These reactions are completely normal but leaving many people wondering what they can do to regain a sense of balance and peace.
The simple fact is that we feel threatened, upset and suffer when we have to face the harsh realities of life. We are tempted to run away, to hide, to suppress our feelings. We may also want to rage, to let these feelings out, to strike out (also very normal feelings). The adaptive fight or flight mechanism wired into us will not be ignored. When we are stressed and do not find an outlet we suffer further. But there is something you can do that requires you to neither bury your head in the sand or to lose your mind, that is adaptive for you and your community and world. It can bring you peace, and isn’t that what we all ultimately want?
WHAT CAN I DO TO FIND PEACE? I favor simple elegant solutions always. The video below teaches you two simple cognitive exercises that can bring you to a state of balance and peace.
Serenity Prayer Exercise: You may want to address your prayer to a Higher Power e.g. Goddess, God, The Universe etc.
1) Write down or name what it is that you cannot change and therefore must accept (if you want peace) For example “Goddess grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change such as: the existence of the coronavirus, other people (by name), the death of a loved one, having a chronic or fatal illness.”
2) Write down or say what it is you can change while asking for the courage to do so. For example “The courage to change the things that I can such as, my attitude and actions i.e. voting, helping another person, contributing money to a cause related to my disturbance, volunteering, take my medication, exercise, etc.”
3) Finally continue to pray to know the difference between what I can and can’t do and do the things that I can.
The 3 and 5 List Exercise
1) Do 3 good things everyday A. One for yourself i.e. self-care activity B.One aimed at changing the thing that is causing you stress or anxiety e.g. sign a petition C.One thing to support your Vision of Success or life mission/purpose e.g. going to work.
2) Write/think about 5 things for which you are grateful!
After you give these exercises a try please drop me a line and let me know how it went. If you have any comments or suggestions on what has worked to help you find peace in turbulent times feel free to leave those at the same link. If you found this helpful sign up to receive emails with additional free tools and subscribe to my YouTube channel: TheSuccessDoc
Know that your anger and grief can be used to good purpose. If they are left to fester and if suppressed will only lead to greater suffering.
Much Continued Peace and Well-Being,
I Don’t know about you, but at week 4 or 5 (I’ve lost track) of quarantine, my stress levels are rising. Don’t worry my self-care has also increased accordingly. Whether you live alone, in a couple, or a household with children (young and old,) this lockdown is affecting everyone’s lives and mental health. The uncertainty of a deadly pandemic, lack of control, drastic changes to our daily work and home lives are prompting more people to reach out to me and other psychologists and coaches for help. (See vid above and Coping with Corona from WUSA Channel 9 for additional tips)
However, I understand these are trying financial times for many people and some may think this is not the time to invest in therapy or coaching sessions. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is why I’m offering my therapy and coaching services on a sliding scale starting at 10% OFF. (CLICK TO INQUIRE ABOUT FEES)
What are the Challenges?
1) Parents are on triple duty between working, parenting and teaching kids and this is a lot!
2) Couples without kids are also challenged by too much togetherness!
3) Single folks without kids are also challenged by boredom and lack of contact, feeling isolated perhaps lonely.
What is the Solution?
While one of the biggest stressors right now is that most things are out of our control, there are things you can do! This nine-item Quarantine Survival Kit can keep you from each other’s throats and/or wanting to cut your own! Victor Frankl, the creator of Logotherapy said, “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.” The below Quarantine Survival Kit will enable you to better choose your responses to this trying situation.
The Quarantine Survival Kit (contents):
Patience: Not knowing when this will all end is trying to many. Waiting is not something anyone enjoys but cultivating patience will lower your stress and anxiety. Breathe and try to let go when you feel your impatience rising, focus on something positive and engage is something productive. Remember no time is wasted when you are in the moment. This patience should extend to yourself and others as we try to do our best under difficult circumstances. Pro Tips: Lowering your expectations will boost your ability to wait and sit with the unknown. A regular meditation prayer and practice does wonders for patience.
Flexibility: So much has changed and continues to change (sometimes weekly) during this novel situation. Human beings are wired to experience stress when under threat and unfortunately when things are uncertain (a feeling produced by change) we often experience this as a threat. The best way to lessen your angst and other forms of suffering in the face of change is to remain flexible. Rather than tightening up or holding on to expectations, expect that change will come. It’s often said that the only certainty in life is change. In his book, The Five Things We Cannot Change and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them, David Richo says, “Perhaps things end so that we can reach the high spiritual peak that comes with letting go.” Lean into the changes having confidence that you can adjust. Pro Tip: Taking slow deep breaths increases flexibility. Rather than tightening around change, take a slow deep breath to activate your parasympathetic nervous system a.k.a. the rest and digest response. Breathe into tight areas and as you exhale give into the change.
Creativity: All change is accompanied by some loss. In this case, we have lost many of our habitual ways of doing almost everything from how we work and play to how we procure food and how we take exercise. We are being challenged to find new ways to get our needs met. These challenges call for creativity and we see it all around us. I have one client who set up a scavenger hunt in her house for her young adult children who had grown tired of playing video games! Creativity and flexibility are close cousins, so try staying open to receive new ideas and inspiration. Follow your instincts and expect to be inspired.
Gratitude: Gratitude is a magical elixir that changes everything! In fact, it actually changes our brain chemistry! “When we express gratitude and receive the same, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions, and they make us feel ‘good’. They enhance our mood immediately, making us feel happy from the inside. By consciously practicing gratitude every day, we can help these neural pathways to strengthen themselves and ultimately create a permanent grateful and positive nature within ourselves.” (May 12, 2020, PositivePsychology.com)
The current situation is undoubtedly a downer so we need to counteract sadness and possible depression with as much feeling good as we can! Pro Tip: I recommend (to all my clients) writing a daily list of three good things they did for themselves and five things for which they are grateful.
Humor: Don’t be afraid to find humor in almost any situation. It can be a life-saver. Indeed, Mark Twain, one of our greatest humorists said, “Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.” Try not to take anything (especially yourself) too seriously. Take time to have fun, to play, be silly and laugh. These are important elements of self-care. Like gratitude, smiling and laughing literally changes your brain chemistry, releasing endorphins and possibly relieving pain (Sept. 11, 2011, Scientific American). Pro Tip: If you want or need an extra shot of laughter watch or listen to comedy. I’m a huge fan of stand-up comedy so that’s my go-to medicine.
Optimism: Optimism is having a generally positive outlook on life. It is a key element in building individual psychological resilience (Aug. 24, 2018, Cutts). Staying positive and keeping fear and worry at bay helps people to maintain a hopeful outlook on life. This ability helps us reframe potentially negative events in a more positive or useful context. Pro Tip: If you are interested in re-wiring your brain to experience increased happiness check out the work of Dr. Rick Hanson author of Buddha’s Brain.
Faith: I have come to relate to faith as the antidote to fear. As Nelson Mandela said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” Whenever I am afraid I can see it is because I do not have faith in my Higher Power. Fear signals me to strengthen my spiritual connection to this Higher Power. As a human I have many limitations, wants and desires but when my faith is strong I know that everything is as it should be and I have no need for fear. When I say “faith” this also includes hope. Having hope is what keeps us from despair. We can not despair because then all is lost. At the extreme end of the loss of hope lies psychogenic death which can lead to physical death in a very short time (Sept. 29, 2018). It’s a choice to cultivate faith (whatever that means to you) but I believe it’s an invaluable tool to keep in your tool kit.
Service: It’s also a scientifically proven fact that being of service to others produces good feelings in those doing the service or helping (May 30, 2018, Psychology Today). Being generous and supporting others is called “pro-social” behavior and it makes us feel good in at least three crucial ways: 1) It gives us a feeling of “relatedness” to others which is a basic psychological need; 2) altruistic behavior boosts well being and lowers depression by providing meaning and purpose to our lives and activating positive neural changes! In fact, fMRI studies suggest a link between generosity and happiness in the brain. “For example, donating money to charitable organizations activates the same (mesolimbic) regions of the brain that respond to monetary rewards or sex (May 30, 2018);” 3) A study (2017) suggests, “helping others regulate their emotions helps us regulate our own emotions, decreases symptoms of depression and ultimately, improves our emotional well-being.” Therefore, if you are feeling down or bored during this time of quarantine think of others, what you can do for them then DO IT!
Self-care: While I’ve always been a strong proponent of self-care and its inextricable relationship to self-love, self-care is perhaps even more important now than ever and by self-care, I’m referring to your health and well-being as it relates to your mind, body and spirit. Studies show that there are many comorbidities or underlying conditions that lead to increased severity of symptoms and higher death rates in those exposed to COVID-19 (CDC Website). So, now it’s doubly important to eradicate and manage underlying health conditions. Conditions such as obesity, diabetes and even kidney and liver disease sometimes have a relationship with behavior such as diet and exercise. Even if you don’t have any underlying health conditions being stressed, tired and rundown are all conditions that lower our body’s resistance or ability to fight off diseases. This is why during this time it is important that you maintain a healthy regimen of diet, exercise, and rest. Don’t neglect your mental/spiritual health either. Be mindful and do whatever that means to take care of your mental and physical health e.g. do not neglect your regular health appointments. Many doctors and therapists (myself included) do offer telemedicine and teletherapy.
Because these are challenging financial times for many I’m offering virtual therapy/coaching services on a sliding scale starting at 10% OFF. Please Note: If you are a health care worker directly affected by the coronavirus my services are being offered to you for FREE. Click this link if interested in scheduling a FREE 30-Min Consultation to discuss.
I hope you found the above helpful. If so I invite you to leave a comment and share it.
Wishing you much-continued success and well-being!
Praying that this article finds you and your families well,
Let me get right to the point. I know it’s hard not to succumb to fear during these times. The growing effects of COVID-19 are affecting everyone’s lives. But, there are some things we can control. This letter isn’t about physical safety precautions, although there are links below for that. I’m writing to share tips I recently shared on CBS affiliate WUSA-9 (pictured above), AND 5 mental health coping tips that I hope you find helpful. My sanity, perhaps like yours, is being challenged but here is what I have found that works!
5 Sanity Saving/Coping Tips:
1) The Serenity Prayer: ‘God/Goddess, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.’ Think of what you can’t change i.e. the existence of this virus and what you do have control over i.e. your attitude and actions. In other words, take the actions you can then let the rest go!
2) Be informed: There is no dearth of valuable info out here on what we need to do for our protection and if we become sick. These links are a good place to start: CDC Protection Recommendations and What to do if you become Sick
3) Practice Self-Care: Exercise, get rest, eat properly, drink lots of water and stick to spiritual practices that don’t put you at risk. My practices of choice are long walks in the woods, yoga, prayer & meditation. Pro tip: If you are in need of exercise or meditation instruction, YouTube has tons of stuff!
4) Keep things in perspective: Stay in the present. Don’t project into the future. It’s ok to consider the future to plan sensibly but do not catastrophize or stress about things that are NOT happening right now. I recommend literally “be where your feet are” to help you stay in the moment. Yep, look down, find your feet, that’s where you are!
5) Get and Keep Your Joy Quotient Up: Think positively and do fun stuff! I am a huge fan of stand-up comedy so I watch and listen to that to keep me laughing. I also love to dance (can be done at home). If you are on lockdown with others play some games, be creative. Do some things you enjoy but haven’t had time to do like cook, watch movies, prep space for a garden (you get the picture). Pro tip: A big joy boost can be had from Practicing Gratitude by counting your blessings.
I hope you found something helpful in the above! If you did, feel free to share and if you have some good tips please share them with me. I will be sharing more well-being and success tips on my Vision Quest Retreats Facebook page so check us out there!