Personal Admin

I’m gearing up for (or resigning myself to) a weekend of personal admin. I first heard the term ‘personal admin’ from a friend of mine. Personal admin is all those things that go into running your life – tasks around the house, tracking finances, meal planning, etc. If you’re like me, things fall off the to-do list and pile up like a big overwhelming mountain.

Enter personal admin time. For me, it’s about hitting my avoidance tipping point and deciding I *have* to do something. It’s a realization that I need to set aside some time and get this stuff done ASAP. The weight of it all is too much.

Why does the personal admin day matter? It involves boundaries, discipline, and getting out of overwhelm. Boundaries? Saying no to plans or requests from others for help because you have carved out this time for you to get your life in order. Discipline? It’s non-negotiable. Personal admin time isn’t facebook time, nap time, time for a drink. Getting out of overwhelm? Overwhelm is a state of mind and not a fun place to be. How nice will it be to have your mental and emotional space free of overwhelm? Way more fun.

Reformed Perfectionist Series: You’re Human

How often do you remember that you are human? Some of my biggest ‘a-ha’ moments have come from realizing that I experience what I do because I’m human. That whatever I’m going through is within the realm of possibility and understanding because of that fact. I am human.

I’m human. We often say it as a way to shirk responsibility. As in, “What can I say? I’m human,” with a shrug of the shoulders and dismissive tone. What I’m referring to is a deep awareness, acknowledgement and radical acceptance that can come from realizing that you are a human – and being human is a package deal.

What comes in that package? Along with the miracles that are our bodies, minds, hearts and souls, there are all the emotions and experiences we have. Like most people, you probably welcome and accept the good. Joy, love, success, pleasure, confidence, and so on. What about the “bad”? Do you let yourself feel your regret, guilt, shame, boredom, anxiety, sadness, uncertainty?

When the tidal wave of negative emotions meets the unrelenting wall of perfectionism, it’s crushing. We believe we won’t be able to handle it, that acknowledging that we’ve failed, hurt someone, or acted against our better judgement or values will destroy us. What we need to be is flexible in order to allow that wave of feeling to enter us, and then leave.

I’ve spent plenty of energy resisting these less-than-pleasurable human experiences. I created the expectation that I will be the one human on the planet who had figured out a way around these feelings. Underneath that delusion was the fear that I wouldn’t be able to handle it. That if I welcomed the feeling it would swallow me whole.

That’s where learning I’m human came in. I was hiking one day, doing exhausting mental gymnastics to get away from feeling regret, and the thought came to me: “It’s ok to feel regret. It’s a human experience, and I’m a human.” Not very elegant, but transformative. Suddenly it was ok to feel bad, even bad about myself. Any experience I had became a human one, and I was no longer alone in it. It didn’t mean anything about me as a person, other than that I was one.

So the next time you find yourself in that moment of realization that you’re resisting feeling shame, or guilt, or grief, take a deep breath and turn towards that “bad” feeling. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling that way, or try to escape it. You’re feeling that way because you’re human, and shit happens to humans.

Take a breath, give yourself some TLC, and do your best to move on.

Want more resources on how to accept your humanness? Brene Brown (brenebrown.com) and Kristin Neff (self-compassion.org) both write on the topic.

On Anticipating the Worst

A poem by Erin Hansen always comes to mind when I or my clients are faced with the realization that we’re always anticipating the worst. Assuming we’ll get hurt, things won’t work out, or we’ll fail.

Here’s the poem:

“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”

-Erin Hansen

The inevitable question arises, “Why do I do that? Why do I always go straight to the negative, oblivious to the (more likely) possibility that everything will be ok?”

The answer may have roots in our distant ancestors, explored in evolutionary psychology. While fear and anxiety may have helped save us from being eaten by lions eons ago, today our overactive worry gets in the way of us seeing all the wonderful possibilities that are out there. We spend time worrying about things going wrong before they do, robbing us of peace and optimism in the present.

Regardless of the reason behind our negativity bias, our thoughts are incredibly powerful. What we focus on is more likely to manifest itself. So next time we find ourselves anticipating the worst, how about we agree to start wondering, “And what if it all works out?” Or if the poet in you needs his or her say, “But what if I fly?”

Try, and let’s watch the magic unfold!

See more of Erin Hansen’s work on her website: http://thepoeticunderground.com/

Postpartum Dads

I had several people ask me about postpartum mental health for dads this week. I feel like the universe is telling me to spread some knowledge about this issue! So in this post, I’ll give a little overview of postpartum depression and anxiety as it presents in dads, in addition to where to find more resources.

Until I started training to treat postpartum moms, I didn’t realize that dads can also experience depression and anxiety in the postpartum period. Studies show at least 1 in 10 dads (research is done mainly on heterosexual couples) experience a mood or anxiety disorder following the birth of their child. That’s a huge number! It’s time to break the silence.

Why are partners impacted by anxiety and depression postpartum? While pregnancy and birth impact women physiologically, both parents are impacted by the huge changes that come with having a baby. Your relationship to your partner changes, your identity transforms, you’re not sleeping, your whole lifestyle changes. It’s incredibly stressful, and stress can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges.

As with postpartum depression for women, postpartum depression in dads also presents itself differently from what we see in the media. It’s important to highlight what else depression and anxiety can look like for postpartum dads, including:

  • Increased anger and irritability
  • A sense of disconnection from mom and baby
  • Social isolation
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches and gastrointestinal issues
  • Sense of being not good enough as a father
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Issues with concentration & memory
  • Thoughts of self harm and/or suicide

These are just a sampling. A guide I often go from is to ask if you’re feeling like yourself. The transition to parenthood is challenging for everyone. However, if you feel so far from the person you used to be, are wondering if you made a mistake, if you’re not sure you’re cut out for fatherhood, and you’re wondering if you’ll ever stop feeling this way, it might be more.

The good news is that you’re not alone, and that help is out there. There’s more information online about signs, symptoms, risk factors, and where to get help. Postpartum depression for moms and dads is treatable, and there’s no need to suffer in silence.

For more information, resources, and where to find help, visit:
www.postpartummen.com
www.postpartum.net/

References: http://postpartummen.com/mens-depression/.

Park Record Guest Editorial

With May being Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to bring a little awareness to my own Park City community. I wrote a Guest Editorial to my local paper, the Park Record, and it was printed on the 19th. Click the link below to read:

Thank you to the editor of the Park Record for seeing the importance of this issue, and for printing my editorial in Saturday’s paper. Let’s hope someone sees it and realizes she’s not alone!

Reformed Perfectionist Series: Introduction

Oh, perfectionism. The monster that keeps us striving for a goal that we can never reach.

I used to be a perfectionist without even knowing it. Looking back, I can see the signs. I was harsh towards myself, thought in extremes, was inflexible in my habits, and felt like I was internally walking on eggshells. Being human – making mistakes, feeling all my emotions, being anything less than my idealized image of who I should be – wasn’t an option.

I started my journey away from perfectionism unintentionally, when I was 15 years old. My first step was to care less about what people thought of me. Often, perfectionists believe others judge them as harshly as they judge themselves. Reframing my focus allowed me to cut myself some slack and free up my energy and enthusiasm. I became way happier.

Cut to today after continuing diligently on my reformation to a non-perfectionist. In my career as a therapist, I get to help others free themselves from the binds of perfectionism. That transformation never gets old – the breaking of the shell, spreading of the wings and taking off. It’s a certain kind of magic and has become a passion of mine.

I decided to create a blog series about how to let go of perfectionist thinking and behaviors. Every post will focus on a different task of dismantling perfectionism, including self-compassion, mistakes, shame & other challenging emotions, aligning with values, gratitude, routines, and more.

Plenty of other writers have described perfectionism, so some helpful links are below. Tune back in the coming weeks and we’ll tackle this beast once and for all!

Perfectionism” from GoodTherapy.org

9 Signs that you Might be a Perfectionist,” by Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD

Move with Radiance Podcast Interview

This week I had the wonderful opportunity to be interviewed by my friend Stephanie Dankelson for her podcast “Move with Radiance.” (Listen to my episode here). In it, Stephanie and I cover all things relationships. Here is some of what we talked about:

  • The importance of knowing yourself as an individual in order to create a healthy relationship with another person.
  • Boundaries – what they are, why they matter, and how to set them.
  • How healthy conflict can help your relationship grow.
  • Communication skills – the good, the not-so-good, and how to upgrade yours.
  • How sex factors into healthy relationships.

Stephanie is an inspired writer, podcaster, coach and friend. Here is a bit about her:

“Stephanie Dankelson is personal trainer and life coach with a passion in helping women work through exercise addiction, disordered eating, and negative body image. Through years of trial and error, deep personal development work, training, and recovery from her own battle with these things, Stephanie has discovered a new way of eating, exercising, and living that isn’t based on fear.

“Through her coaching, writing, and podcast “Move with Radiance,” Stephanie demonstrates how redefining the relationship with yourself can ultimately help you heal and redefine the relationship you have with your body, food, and movement. She helps her clients find reconnection with their bodies, navigate through the negative self talk, the self destructing habits like binging/restricting and the back on track/off track mentality. She also helps them discover movement they no longer feel forced by and how to look at food in a different, more sustainable, fueling way. Because to her, there is a more freeing way to be fit.”

Wow, right? Stephanie is one of those high-vibe, inspiring, authentic women that make me feel like I can do anything. Check out the rest of her podcast episodes and her blog!

Here is the link to the podcast: https://www.stephanie-dankelson.com/the-podcast/episode13

Connect with Stephanie:

Website: www.stephanie-dankelson.com
Instagram: @stephaniedankelson
Facebook: facebook.com/stephaniedankelsonmovement