Tag Archives for " thriving "

What to Expect When You Come to Therapy the First Time

I’m so glad you’re curious about what it’s actually like to go to therapy. We have so many ideas picked up from film and television, and they can make it seem humorous, scary, weird, or just plain daunting and uncomfortable. If you’re here, I know you’re thinking about asking for help, and I want to make the process as comfortable as possible, so take a look at this video:

What to Expect When You Come to Therapy

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

To your health,

Dr. Gretchen

Going Crazy? It Might Actually Mean You’re Perfectly Sane!

The cat threw up on the carpet, the kids are crying, your boss is calling you at home on a Sunday, for some mysterious reason you’ve gained five pounds overnight, there’s nothing to eat but popcorn and questionable looking deviled eggs, and you’re kind of wishing that aliens would swoop out of the sky and abduct you.  Your “notes to self” run something like:  give children away; change home phone number (better yet, cancel all phone service); find out whether Prozac is now available over the counter; figure out appropriate justification for eating nothing but carbohydrates; and research that alien abduction thing so you can position yourself appropriately next time they come around.  An extreme snapshot of a day in hell, or daily life for the average multi-tasker?


If you’re like most of us, some or all of the above has passed through your head at one time or another, and you’ve probably wondered if you were going crazy.  Well, the good news is that, while there’s chaos and insanity all around you, and even sometimes inside of you, it does not mean you’re crazy.  Quite the contrary, in fact.  Feelings of “insanity,” “losing it,” and “going off the deep end” are actually your body’s natural resources coming to the rescue, and telling you that you’re living in a crazy world.  The harder you try to get in synch with that world, the likelier you are to feel crazy yourself.


What’s the solution to feeling like the world’s cracking up, and you’re cracking right along with it?  First, listen to what your mind and body are telling you, and take it seriously.  You are the expert on your own well-being and your unconscious will reveal everything you need to know, if you slow down for just a few minutes and let it talk to you.  Second, banish all unnecessary tasks from your to-do list, and simplify those that remain.  Do you really need to make a homemade meal tonight, or will ordering in suffice?  Can you refuse to return work-related calls on Sundays?  And maybe you don’t need so many fuzzy area rugs that the cat can throw up on.  In other words, reduce your visual clutter as well as your mental clutter, and you will find that the feelings of craziness begin to reduce along with your task list.


Although it would be nice to have assistance from others, the road to feeling sane and centered begins with you.  You have the power to say “NO” and the ability to decide what you really want to do, even when the demands placed upon you are extreme.  Remember that nothing extreme is ever healthy.  That includes your mental health, where small changes can produce big results.


And, please, do something else great for your self-care:  use the box to the right to sign up for my newsletter RIGHT NOW, to keep healthy reminders flowing to your inbox!



Even Bloggers Need a Vacation – And How to Take One Even if You Can’t Afford It

The mind needs rest.  The body needs rest.  The soul needs rest.  Vacation, in other words.  A time away from the busy cares of your day-to-day life, the extreme schedules, the hubbub of city life, the noise and chaos that accompanies living in close quarters with your fellow human beings.  Who doesn’t go to work on a Monday and sometimes wish it was still Sunday?


It’s time for this blogger to take a little vacation, change environments, rest and reinvigorate with exposure to nature, new sights, and new people.  If you’re thinking that sounds nice, but also thinking you can’t afford it right now, think again.  The cost of illness is high, and illness results from unremitting stress.  Chronic pressure and strain are wearing to the brain, heart, blood vessels, and gut.


Carving out time for yourself, a “stay-cation,” can be just as effective as heading for the beach in Mexico or touring through Europe.  How to make it work though?  Like any vacation, it requires advance planning.  Clear your schedule of all routine obligations.  Stop the mail and the newspaper.  Put up automated absence messages on all your e-mails, and on your outgoing voicemail.  Do not fill up your schedule with doctor’s appointments, car repairs, or housework.  Do a little research on your town and visit the top ten tourist attractions; chances are, if you live there, you’ve never bothered to visit.  Plan a special restaurant meal to mark the commencement of your vacation.  Sleep in.  Wake up without an alarm.  Have a day without a plan.  Spend time in nature.  Take advantage of the last few weeks of summer and visit a public pool or beach during the week when it’s not crowded.  Take off your wristwatch and leave it at home.


Enjoy the feeling of relief you have given yourself.


And don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter, using the box to the right, for more information about how to THRIVE, even with chronic illness, grief or loss.



Every Day Can Be Your Birthday!

I’m writing this post on my birthday, and I’m having a great day.  I’m doing a little bit of work at home, with the windows open and the cat on the couch nearby.  Well-wishers have been popping into my consciousness all day via FaceBook, phone calls, e-mail, and text messages.  My partner is taking me out for a special dinner tonight (he insists all this dining out is not chronic-illness-friendly, but I’ll make it work!).  I scored an emerald-green sweater I’ve been wanting for weeks – on sale – and the last one in my size!  Best of all, I decided that I’m wearing sequins all day because hey, it’s my birthday!


If you’re not into your birthday, I understand.  But I’m like a small child in my delight around my birthday, and my friends know how it is with me, and honor it.  It’s great to have people telling you you’re wonderful, fabulous, and deserving of health and happiness all day long.  Who needs gifts with that kind of input?  It’s really buoyed my mood.  And what if every day was like this?


I love the symbolism of my birthday as well.  It’s a new year, sure, in an old body, but it’s also a great time to recommit to your own personal wellness goals.  This morning, after I went to the gym and ate a low-glycemic breakfast, I saw my dietician, who validated my efforts with some solid numbers and explanations.  I took a long walk from there down to the store where I landed the green sweater.  This being Los Angeles, of course it’s “sunny and 72,” and I felt good.  I felt strong, healthy, happy, purposeful, and supported in my efforts to be the best I can possibly be in this 49-year old body that yes, happens to be plagued by chronic illness.  I am reminded that every day is a birthday of sorts, and an opportunity to recommit to doing my best.


Even if today isn’t your birthday (and happy birthday if it is, from one birthday princess to another!), I encourage you to think of each day as a birth day of sorts.  It’s a chance to start over.  You don’t have to wait for Monday, or July 1st, or until the walking shoes you need go on sale.  Do something.  Anything.  Make it count.  Share it with the world.  Get it validated.  Keep it going.  Play!  Wear some sequins, so you can bask in your own reflected glory.  And when the evil voices pop into your head (the ones that say you’re no good, you’re too fat, this chronic illness is gonna’ get you anyway), replay the messages that came in on your birthday, and think about how true they are the other 364 days of the year.


And don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter, using the box to the right, so that I can keep you up-to-date with more inspirational thoughts and messages.