Category: <span>Self Care</span>

What’s Getting in The Way of Your Happiness?

Are you happy? Most of us want to be, but your nature to demand a lot from yourself, and sacrifice sleep to fulfill one more obligation may be sucking the joy out of the room.

 

Happiness is often connected to achievement- with financial, family, and career ranking high on the list.  The assumption is often with success you will automatically become happier.  As we’ve seen recently with the decisions of Naomi Osaka, success does not guarantee lasting happiness. Work hard, do [exceptionally] well, and feel good, is a faulty equation, yet, we continue to pursue it.

Think about it, you probably got the most praise in life when you did something great like excel at a sport, graduate from school, got that promotion or got married, had kids, and found your white picket fence. Or maybe you remember the disappointment or shame you felt when you did not meet the expectations of others, like being asked why you aren’t married with kids at 38, or in need of a mental health day. Which experience do you avoid like the plague?

This is the beginnings of achievement equating to contentment, and our natural response to seek what feels good or conditional happiness.

Take a second and swallow that pill.

Conditional happiness is based on external circumstances and events, and how you decide to respond. A response that desperately seeks to avoid discomfort by searching for external validation, attention, and general feel-good moments that cannot be sustained.

Why? Because life and people are unpredictable.

The one predictable thing you have control over is you, but you might be what’s getting in the way of your happiness.

I often bear witness to this as I listen to my clients articulate how hard they push themselves to be what someone else wants them to be, and although successful, it comes with busy minds that won’t shut off, deep self-criticism, and unhappiness. Sound familiar?

Are you looking for more happiness daily? If the answer is YES, book a 15-minute complimentary session with me to find out how I can help YOU.

Let’s take a look at how else your response and reactions may be getting in the way of your success.

 

Ways you get in the way of happiness

 

Five Things Getting in The Way of Your Happiness

1. Fear

This emotion is a significant barrier to happiness. Fear is a sign that your mind believes something is wrong, and we often think that something is wrong with us. This kind of unrest creates a thick fog between you and the possibility of happiness. You end up questioning whether you’re really good enough to be where you are, tend to over-analyze for days, and second guess yourself.

It’s important to address issues that cause feelings of fear and resolve them. There’s no room for happiness where fear resides.

2. You Pick Yourself Last for Your Own Team

You’ve spent so much of your life trying to hit all the right milestones, and making everyone else comfortable and not rock the boat, that you forgot to get out of the boat and enjoy the swim.  All your decisions have been based on what would make other people happy, or even successful and to do that you’ve turned your needs, wants and voice so far down that you no longer know what defines you.

Who would you be if you took all of those roles and titles away (Manager, Wife, Mom, Doctor, CEO, Professor, The Go to Best Friend, Problem Solver)? The thought of what life may be without the title may provoke some natural discomfort, but the only authentic way out of this dilemma is to start to shift the focus from what has defined you, to find who you are.

Start with asking yourself how do you want to be defined? Explore what you enjoy, what makes you happy. Take a look at your calendar and see where you could plug in more time to discover you.

3. Feeling Undervalued

When you feel that your time, effort, and contribution to the world lack value, you’ll find happiness to be elusive. It’s draining to be in relationships that take more from you than they give. It’s time to figure out why you’re still there and what you may still need to learn as you work on your exit strategy.

4. Overthinking

Some thinking is useful, like learning from mistakes or making plans for the future. Most thinking is not, such as daydreaming about how you could quit your job today, reliving arguments, replaying choices you’ve made- thinking about what else you could have done or said, or putting off working on projects that really matter.  To experience a more fulfilling life, try paying attention to not only your feelings, but also to your thoughts. Your thoughts contribute to how you feel; feelings contribute to how your respond (or don’t respond).

The beauty of your thinking is there are ways to learn to get out of your head and prioritize what’s on your mind.

5. Negativity

When unhelpful thoughts accumulate in your mind, along with feelings like anger, hurt, disappointment and shame, it not only impacts how you show up in the world- but it can also trigger larger problems like anxiety, stress, and depression. Anxiety and depression struggle to coexist with happiness.

Determine the thoughts, behaviors and actions you can control in your life, and do your best to work on that.

Sometimes the biggest obstacle in your life is, well, you. To build a life that supports happiness you have to work on the place where most of these obstacles reside, within your mind. Take the time to learn new approaches to cultivate and use your mental muscle in a way that works for you.  With practice, intention, and strategy you can let go of self-criticism, overcome your need for control, navigate disappointment and find balance. . .maybe even happiness.

 

“Be happy with what you have and are, be generous with both, and you won’t have to hunt for happiness.”

– William E. Gladstone

 

How do you prioritize your happiness?

I hope this post has given you some insights into yourself, so you can work on changing the particular reactions and patterns that get in the way of you living your best life.  You deserve to be happy. I would love to hear in the comments how you prioritize happiness.  For some of us, that means gently unpacking what hasn’t worked and trying on something new.

If you want to take action now, in a meaningful way (beyond spa dates, and affirmations) try our Performance Academy with a few key tasks and the right amount of accountability to move you to calm, confident, and content.

 

Hi, I’m Amanda Fludd. I’m here to help you get out of your head so you can stress less and focus on your success.

 

Why Letting Go of these 3 Kinds of Worry Will Help You Have an Awesome New Year

2020 has been an unexpected year and the uncertainty of it has thrown everyone into a whirlwind of anxiety, sadness, doubt, or a different kind of tired- Covid tired. A new year is approaching and it’s important to let go of any baggage that’s weighing you down and make space for what’s to come. As long as you have breath in your body you can create, dream, make room for joy, and live with intention despite uncertainty.

COVID-19 is like that unwanted house guest that you want to leave, but you can’t seem to get rid off.

For a lot of people – children and adults alike, this pandemic is kicking up worries, and making it difficult to get things done. What most people don’t realize is that the time you spend OVERTHINKING about a situatin instead of doing something actually feeds your stress and drains your motivation. The key to navigating stress, anxiety, worry, and overwhelm is getting a handle on WHAT you are thinking and that is what we’re going to get into- the importance of letting go of worries and it’s on your life.

Let’s do a quick exercise that will help you reduce that baggage of stress and worries you’re carrying right away. Ready? Grab a pen and paper and write down all your worries for a minute. Write down whatever you think about during the day, the thoughts on your mind now, what you feel, thoughts related to your business, your family, relationships, whatever is on your mind. Transfer all that pain, worry and negative energy to that piece of paper.

Now, take a look at what you wrote on the paper, and crumple that paper up and throw it away OR rip up the paper as dramatic as you can, shred it to bits!

How do you feel? I hope you feel a little better. Although this will not get rid of your problems completely, this simple exercise is a proven method to calm a person who is constantly in their head and at the mercy of their worries. It’s an exercise that teaches you the value of letting go. Whenever you feel worried again, write it all down, take a deep breath, tear it up, throw it away and let go.

Drop the worries that no longer serve you 

  1. Fear of the future

A lot of us get excited about the whole new year, new me and are motivated about new goals, but let’s get real, new goals (or the ones that didn’t happen this year) and dreams can be scary. A lot of my work is coaching women to from fear to success in their business and fear is the number one thing that paralyzes progress.  Fear is what is behind anxiety, but often our fears are a bit exaggerated. A quick tip: Ask yourself how bad is this really? Start to tackle what overwhelms you by breaking it into smaller steps or chunks of time. With a little bit of practice you can let go of fear and the unhelpful thoughts that drives it.

  1. The Need to be busy

Covid-19 shut us down- actually for safety, and mentally because it put a pause on our need to do as much as we can in a 24 hour period. Busyness has become the new normal.  If having back to back appointments and being in demand equates to doing a good job, it’s easy to mistake busyness for purpose and validation. This pause has given us time to tune in and realign our lives through things that matter to us, like classes to develop our skillsets, fixing up the house, to getting some needed rest. Rest and relaxation is probably the antidote to worry, as well as prioritizing your time. It is the key to reducing stress, improving your emotional health AND resting is productive. Yet, it is hard for some of us who are used to filling every moment of time to simply take a break.  A break gives you a moment to take in things like the satisfactin of your accomplishments, quality relationships, and the other details of life that can refuel your energy, support internal validation, and propel you forward.

To tackle your new need for intentional time, block it out!  Fill your schedule with tasks and activities you want to do, it’s harder for others to steal your time if you’ve already blocked off key tasks for yourself, and it makes it easier to say “nope, not today”.  Schedule key tasks of the day in chunks of time, as well as breaks and time off (vacation time isn’t optional). The key here is to be realistic about what needs to be accomplished for the day, with flexibility to be responsive to changes instead of reactive. Let go of the need to be busy.

  1. The need to be in control

Anxiety and stress happen when you feel like you’re not in control and spend too much time trying to force things to work out the way you see it in you head. The hard truth is that you’re not in control of most things in your life. You can rarely predict how the next chapter of your life will play out or the weather for that matter. Avoid wasting your energy trying to control everything. I know, easier said then done. It might help to take a step back and think about how control plays out in your life, the purpose it serves, and where this need for control comes form. [Take a breath] Accept that you cannot control the circumstances of your life, but you CAN control your reactions and what you do with what’s handed to you.  That means you have a lot of power yourself- don’t believe me? Make a list of all the things that belong to you- your health, your decisions, your emotional wellbeing, etcetera, etcetera. Refocus your energies there and take notes on how it creates change for you and in your environment.

Choose an Affirmation that Fits You

A few mantra’s to reinforce shifting control back to you- see which one best suits you and make sure to write it down on a sticky, put it up on your bathroom mirror or computer or even try scheduling it on your phone as a reminder. The goal is to recite it at least once a day until it becomes a new way of doing.

I release all fears of not being perfect. I am good enough

I live my life without restraints

I let go of the need to control others

I’m 100% in control of my life

I let go of my need to be in control

Worrying and stress will impede your productivity and create chasms between you and your goals for the new year, holding your happiness hostage. As counterintuitive as it seems, letting go of your fear of the future, the idea that you constantly need to be busy and the urge to be in control of everything will actually open up great opportunities for you. Not only will it improve your productivity and performance, but it creates a healthy mindset that will serve you right if you treat it well.

 

I’d love to hear what your goals are for next year and what you plan to let go of before January 1 rolls around. Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

 

~Amanda Fludd, Psychotherapist & Mindset Coach for Women in Business and Entrepreneurs

A Milestone in Grief and Loss

Covid 19 has reached new milestones not just in mass casualties, but in consequential losses as we grapple with epic rates of change.  From grieving the loss of a loved one, or tangible losses like graduations, friendships within classrooms,  being furloughed from work, the ability to go anywhere as we continue to shelter in place, or even a loss of safety in the context of recent community issues. Grief is a response to loss to which a bond or affection was formed. Simply put, grief is love. A love that exists across multiple dimensions including spiritual, philosophical, and social dimensions. It’s an experience we will all have just because we exist. 

Grief brings with it many different emotions like sadness, guilt, disbelief, confusion, shock and anger. The emotions have often been described as a rollercoaster and can quickly leave its mark emotionally and physically, whether or not you realize it. Unfortunately, loss and change have always been a part of our history and always will be, but we have learned some fundamental ways to deal with it. 

Here are some tips to help you embrace your grief and loss:

  1. Take your time. Don’t allow anyone to make you feel as though you’re taking too long to process your loss or that you have to get over it and “move on”. There is no time frame on how you experience grief.  Some people may grieve for weeks and months, while others may describe their grief lasting for years. With all the emotions that you experience, acknowledge and feel it as much as you may want to hide from it or make it go away. We can’t get around the  pain, but can work our way through it and begin to create new  meaning and experiences that work around your loss. 
  2. Give yourself credit. Don’t beat yourself up for the way you feel about the loss. Acknowledge your growth as you progress through your healing process. Allow this to happen naturally. (For example, if you cried all day for two days straight and on the 3rd day you only cried twice, acknowledge that and try to look for other signs that there is life outside of sadness).
  3. Get out and get active. Be sure to do something physical even if it is just going for a walk outside. Grief and you can coexist together. Remember to take time to care for your body, mind and soul. Physical movement will help with those difficult feelings. 
  4. The language of grief. Grief wants to be heard, validated and supported. It needs to pour out.  Talk about your unique losses with loved ones, a friend or maybe even seek out a support group or community events like a grief circle. Pour it on to the pages of a journal or through music or art. While grief is an inevitable part of life, navigating it can be challenging and it’s ok to ask for help if you get stuck.  A therapist can help you find a way to pick up the pieces and move through this process if you are struggling to find your way. For some, its easier to be fully open with a non judgmental stranger. 

The 5 stages of grief, according to psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Although these are the common stages, there is no guarantee that you experience them all or in any order. For the most part, most of us will go through a loss and never need a therapist, but it is also ok to seek professional support to assist you in coping if you are having a hard time on your own and the grief seems more persistent with feelings of hopelessness, despair, trouble with daily tasks and difficulty feeling pleasure or joy.  

Additional resources: 

Reminders when coping with grief: https://omh.ny.gov/omhweb/covid-19-resources/coping-with-grief-reminders.pdf

For families dealing with the loss of a child: www.copefoundation.org

To find a GriefShare support group or event near you: https://www.griefshare.org/

Connect with Suffolk/Nassau NABSW for upcoming grief circles: on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/nassausuffolkabsw

For the loss and hurt related to social injustice embrace healing habits through the 21 day challenge: https://www.eddiemoorejr.com/21daychallenge

 

Kensho Psychotherapy Services is here to offer you support and help through your difficult time. For more information visit our site:  http://www.amandafludd.com.

Revamping Self Care. The Pandemic Edition

Pandemic Coping Skills

 

If you weren’t exercising your self-worth before this apocalyptic level crisis by balancing daily demands with our natural need to say “no”, “rest” and “recharge”, well for sure, the time has come to indulge and nurture what you’ve neglected. Don’t presume that one takes a back seat while navigating the new demands of remote work, google classroom or a looming recession. Regardless of your evolving role, pausing to engage in self-care may be one of the key tools to protect your energy so we can survive and thrive through this pandemic.

Let’s call out this thing for what it is, insane! It’s a profound loss of control that has shown up in every aspect of our lives and that is exactly what trauma is. Adding on to this ordeal is the physical and mental strain on our health. This shows up differently for everyone depending on several factors like emotional support, ability to self-care and skills to cope. It may look like irritability, restlessness, constant worry, a decrease in productivity, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, loneliness, increased flashbacks, self-doubt, depression and more.

Why self-care? We all need to take time out to decompress and let some of the steam off. This lessens the impact of stress and worry that is building in the background.

Raise your hand if you aren’t stressed and worried. . .crickets.

Pausing means taking time to nurture your needs and for some, some untreated emotional wounds.

How to get started– Take a minute (actually get out a piece of paper and a timer and set it for one minute) and jot down all the things you love to do or maybe wanted to do but just didn’t have the time to do. Now push yourself a little bit further for the next five minutes and think deeper about what you really need to nurture right now. Now take a look at your loves list and consider what you can add to further nurture your needs. For example, going to church is one way I recharge but I don’t have access to this form of reconnecting right now, at least not in the same way. Nevertheless, I can listen to a YouTube worship service or dynamic inspirational song at my desk while at work daily. I can add devotionals to my nurture list or learning a bible based affirmation. My strength comes from the Lord.

Once you have your list ready, the next part just requires regular and consistent action on your part. Take a few things from your list, especially the ones you can do now considering the circumstances and build it into your daily schedule. That’s it.

Your Pandemic Edition Plan might look like this:

  1. Pausing daily to check in with what you need emotionally, physically and spiritually. Notice it and nurture it. Maybe incorporate some meditation or mindfulness practices. Check out the calm.com app, Headspace or Stop Breathe Think. A colleague and I are also hosting a Virtual Wellness Summit on 4.25.20 to help you pause, reconnect and recharge. You should come, it’s free. Register on Eventbrite: https://bit.ly/34OuTOT. Or consider other similar events.
  2. Figure out your daily routine to incorporate the items you love and to make sure you are creating things to look forward to during your day. Without goal directed action it’s easier to lose track of time and procrastinate as days blend together. Read, write, take a drawing class or enroll in a free course at Yale (yup, that’s happening).
  3. Take time to connect: Call, text, or even write to a loved one or a friend to not just see how they are doing, but to chat about live, practice being social, and maybe as a byproduct find inspiration to you. Of course its ok to set limits on this. If you just don’t feel like talking, that’s ok. Another great option is joining some online groups with friends or finding events like the one mentioned above through Eventbrite or maybe even link up with a charitable group to be of service to others and foster a sense of connection while supporting your community.
  1. Move your body. Your body is craving to be noticed and to move. There is freedom and healing in our bodies, especially when we connect it to silence or the rhythm of our ancestors. Try a free yoga application like Down Dogg in the App store or free online workouts being offered by YMCA. You can also join in on the IG DJ Battles and dance it off, or maybe even join your kids for a “Just Dance” session in the Livingroom. 
  2. Get outside. Walk, run or just sit outside and get some fresh air and sun. Kick off your shoes and feel the earth beneath you- we call this type of grounding “earthing”. As you ground yourself use that time to think about a few reasons to be grateful.

Continue to ground yourself in the one thing that you have control over: Simple acts of self-care and nourishment of one’s mind. Taking it in step by step each day. I am grateful for you, proud of you for doing the best you can, and wish you endless days of self-love, care, compassion, phenomenal health and healing.

Author: Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R  4.24.2020

Brilliant Ways To Manage High Functioning Anxiety

by: Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R

Anxiety affects over 40 million people worldwide, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. It is one of the top 3 reasons people come into therapy. When you think about anxiety you usually correlate it with easily flustered, nervous, scared, and constricted because of impossible thoughts about uncertain outcomes. All of the above is true, but most recently we’ve seen an increase in successful clients at Kensho Psychotherapy, who can achieve high levels of success because of their anxiety, but still find themselves unhappy, anxious, and overwhelmed. High-functioning anxiety is the term used to describe folks who are ambitious, high achievers, and also anxious. Didn’t know that was a thing did you? Well, it is. You would be surprised to know that anxiety for them is constant and unpleasant, even though their accomplishments make it seem like everything is extraordinary. They however, secretly can’t enjoy their success, and are constantly at war with themselves and relentless expectations.

So how do you know if this is you? It may look like this:

• To-do lists for the to-do list
• Always expecting the worst in terms of your performance despite prior success (those are conveniently forgotten)
• A high demand for excellence that may show up as perfectionism
• Mental and physical exhaustion
• Constant overthinking or worry
• Jam-packed schedule due to an inability to say “no”
• The Workaholic – staying late to do just one more thing and not hesitating to take work home
• Never satisfied with gains and already thinking about what’s next
• Procrastination galore
• A clandestine fear of failure

 

Are you thinking, “Yes that is me?.” Often those who suffer from high functioning anxiety may ask themselves, “How did I get here?”. It can evolve from genetics, brain chemistry, or in response to personal life events (like a deep fear of failing and becoming like your parents, or underlying feelings of shame or guilt related to a trauma, so you work hard, ALL THE TIME) and is often an automatic process that is out your control.

Regardless of the reason, it’s not your fault! You may not have total control over the chemical make-up of your brain, and you certainly didn’t choose your life circumstances, but now it’s up TO YOU to figure it out.

 

This is where brilliance comes in to restore balance:

1. Get grounded. Clear your mind and recharge your energy by practicing techniques such as deep breathing and focusing on the present. When you are fully present, or have the mental dexterity to bring yourself back using your breath, it reduces anxiety. Think of it as training your mind to come back to center or back “home.”

Let’s practice:
Follow Your Breath

Dim the lights or close your eyes, and as you inhale (big breath in), trace the air as it enters your nose or mouth and goes into your lungs, and as you exhale (release), follow the air leaving your lungs and exiting your nose or mouth. Repeat for a few breaths.

This grounding technique gets more effective with practice. The key is to pay attention to your breathing, notice if your mind wanders, and if it does, say “that’s ok” and gently bring it back to the breath. Let your body lead and your mind will follow. Set a timer and try it for 2-3 minutes and build your practice from there.

Pause and Regroup

2. Evaluate your lifestyle – Gain the upper hand by treating your body like the queen or king that it is. Commit to going to bed an hour earlier every day this week to get more sleep (ok, pick one night to start), get in at least one healthy meal (go light on the carbs), and embrace some form of exercise. These slight changes are rejuvenating and helps you better tackle the mental mind field of anxiety.

Repeating to yourself “you got this” or another mantra while doing deep breathing exercises may be effective to reduce the experience of anxiety.

3. Utilize mantras – a positive personal statement that counters those unhelp automatic thoughts like “I’m never going to be successful” or “I messed up”. It can work wonders on one’s self-esteem, confidence, and even create a calming effect for you and your frazzled nerves. Try one like: “I am ____” and fill in the blank with what you need, like capable or strong. You can also try one of acknowledgment and reassurance, like “I am scared and I’m going to do this anyway”. There are even apps for this, so get connected and be consistent with your practice.

4. Practice saying “no” – often those with high-functioning anxiety overextend themselves by saying yes to every invitation thrown their way. Do yourself a favor and say “no thanks” every once in a while. You don’t even need to explain yourself or feel bad about it because having a healthy mind and choosing you first is reason enough.

5. Ask for help – You may be thinking, “I don’t want to burden anyone with my problems.” Many who struggle with these issues suffer in silence. Keep in mind that while deep breathing and affirmations go a long way, at some point you have to tackle the core issues you are probably avoiding. This is where therapy is dope and can help anxiety sufferers understand their love hate relationship with anxiety, unpack core beliefs, and teach how to break up with anxiety and enjoy your success. You deserve that.

 

Kensho Psychotherapy Services is located in Valley Stream, NY and specializes in Anxiety, Depression, and Trauma. Amanda Fludd LCSW-R is the Executive Director.

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