Your Pet Loves You – More Than You Know!

For many of us, there is a furry-footed loved one that we call family. Or perhaps it is a feathered friend or fish that we love. We know that our heart warms at the thought of them and that we find ourselves comforted and soothed in their presence. In fact, we might find ourselves marveling at the ways that they know just how to brighten our day, especially when we are stressed.

Research suggests that many animals have an innate knack for connecting with others, often making them impeccable pets. Not only this, but many of these animals go on to become adept healers through their innate traits. Pets who provide a unique comfort for those they live with are referred to as Emotional Support Animals, or ESA’s.

Because of this unique impact that many animals offer to us, research has gone on to explore the ways that pets can enhance the lives of those living with PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder. Pets who serve as ESA’s differ from service animals in that they are not trained to assist the struggles in any way, yet their presence and interactions do offer assistance that can facilitate healing and recovery for their human companions. In my Goodtherapy.org article on this process, I explain some of the benefits that ESA’s can offer for those living with PTSD. Click HERE for details:

With this notable impact, it is no wonder that so many of us feel better at the mere thought of spending time with our interspecies loved ones… in fact, many people report that they miss their pets as much or more than other family members! One of the reasons for this is that their pet offers them support and comfort for the challenges that they are facing with anxiety, depression, or the aftermath of a trauma.

If you find yourself benefiting from the ways that your pet enhances and contributes to your emotional well-being, you might be wondering how to go about registering your pet as an Emotional Support Animal. I have recently created a package to facilitate this so that more people can go on to experience the healing benefits of living with a beloved pet! For details, visit HERE to see how you can get started.

In what ways do you love to spend time with your pet?? Share with us in our social media pages to connect with other pet lovers who are finding their lives that much more meaningful with their furry-footed, feathered, and aquatic loved ones present!

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Know Your Superpower!

One of the benefits of the Mindfulness Matters group is to help us get a better sense of our moment to moment experiences. The thing is, I am sometimes asked why this matters.

For many of us, we find ourselves going through our day on autopilot. The downside of that is that, when we are not connecting with our experiences, things seem to pop up out of nowhere… and then we are left in a panic, reactive, or even frozen.

Becoming more Mindful in our routine, day-to-day interactions and mundane activities can help us develop a cumulative buffer against feeling like we are always caught off guard. In fact, it can leave us better equipped to more easily surf and navigate the things that do seem to come out of nowhere for us.

In the short video below, Sharon Salzberg does a very nice job of illustrating this concept in describing the two wolves (metaphorically!) that we all deal with. In fact, having this skill gives us a bit of a superpower in the sense that it can leave us feeling empowered and acting from a place of empowerment rather than reactivity when we are met with difficult situations.

I would love to hear how what you thought of this story! Be sure to share with us in our social media communities listed below so we can celebrate your superpower with you!

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Mindfulness with 5 Senses

One of the aims of my Mindfulness Matters group is to provide people with accessible, fool proof tools to help them ground in the present moment so that they can eradicate the inner critic, paralyzing self judgments, and gain the sense of empowerment they need to make the best choices about how to react to what pops up in their lives. Today, I wanted to share one of these tools with you. This is a quick and relatively easy exercise to bring us into a mindful state quickly. If you only have a minute or two or, for whatever reason, you don’t have the time or tools to try a body scan, this five senses exercise can help you bring awareness to the current moment in a short amount of time.

Use this exercise to quickly ground yourself in the present when you only have a moment. The goal is to notice something that you are currently experiencing through each of your senses. Begin by making sure you are seated or lying comfortably enough that you can relax, yet still upright enough that you can focus on the following questions. As you go through this set of questions, allow yourself to become immersed in each experience before moving on to the next question.

What are 5 things you can see?

What are 4 things you can feel?

What are 3 things you can hear?

What are 2 things you can smell?

What is 1 thing you can taste?

The numbers for each sense are only a guideline. Feel free to do more or less of each – remember to make modifications with Mindful awareness. You can also listen to a guided audio version of this exercise with my “Beyond the Couch” podcast episode easily. 

I would love to hear how this went for you! Be sure to share with us in our social media communities listed below so we can celebrate with you!

Facebook: www.facebook.com/drsallynazari

Twitter: www.twitter.com/chrysalisdoc

 

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Celebrate Your ‘Social Brain’ with Group Therapy!

Recently, I spent some time talking about GROUPS with Katie K. May of Creative Healing Philly. Katie K. May is a DBT Certified, Licensed Therapist for Teens in Pennsylvania.  She specializes in running groups for teens who experience anxiety, depression and self-harm behaviors, with a passion in helping clients learn to express and cope with overwhelming emotions in healthy ways so that they can move forward in life EMPOWERED and able to create their own path to happiness.

In our discussion, Katie and I explored the ways that our group connections help us to build a life we want to celebrate. In fact, groups have helped people excel in work place dynamics, school related tasks, as well as family functions. Katie shares some top tips for connecting in group therapy, below, and debunks some myths about getting started with groups.

Katie’s Top Tips:

+Our interpersonal relationships are one of the most powerful predictors of both our mental and physical health.  People are happier and healthier, with lower rates of depression and greater overall happiness when they are connected socially.

+Take advantage of the “social brain!”  We are by nature social creatures and are strongly influenced by what happens around us in our world.  Be mindful of whom you surround yourself with and the choices these people are making as you are likely being swayed by their thoughts and behaviors too.

+Practicing gratitude for the people in your lives, how they have impacted you and why they are important to you can help you feel more connected and accepted socially.  Each day reflect on something you appreciate about your loved ones and what you appreciate about this person.  At the end of the week, find some way to connect face-to-face to express this gratitude and notice how your own mood improves as a result.

I would love to hear what thoughts you have about the ways groups can help you celebrate your life! In fact, I frequently hear from “graduates” of my groups that they have gone on to silence their inner critics and surrounded themselves with people who uplift them so that they can overcome anxious, debilitating thoughts and overwhelming depression and isolation. As a result, they’ve begun to reshape the celebratory lives they have been looking to build! Be sure to share with us your hopes and goals for groups in our social media communities listed below so we can celebrate with you!

Facebook: www.facebook.com/drsallynazari

Twitter: www.twitter.com/chrysalisdoc

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Assert Yourself – And Enhance Your Relationships

I recently connected with Dr. Julie Hanks for the “Beyond the Couch” podcast to talk about assertiveness tips. Dr. Hanks is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist specializing in women’s emotional health and relationships. She is the founder and director of Wasatch Family Therapy, author of The Burnout Cure and The Assertiveness Guide for Women, a blogger, a local and national media contributor, an online mental health influencer, a life coach and a private practice consultant, and an award-winning performing songwriter. To learn more visit DrJulieHanks.com or connect with @drjuliehanks on social media.

Dr. Hanks and I discussed the ways that our relationships can actually be strengthened with assertiveness so that we can go on to connect in more loving, fulfilled ways with our loved ones. She shared three top tips for asserting ourselves in relationships:

1) Before you can be assertive ask yourself these four questions about the situation:

  • What do I think?
  • What do I feel?
  • What do I want?
  • What do I need?

2) OSCAR Assertiveness Tool

  • O – Observe the Situation
  • S – Sort Thoughts and Feelings
  • C – Compassionately communicate
  • A – Ask Clarifying Questions
  • R – Request Directly

3) When Communicating Choose the “Lantern Stance”

There are three communication stances: doormat (passive), sword (aggressive or passive aggressive), and the lantern.Imagine yourself standing with your feet shoulder width apart, centered and balanced, holding up a lantern as high as you can reach illuminating the situation. Envision yourself standing up straight, feeling strong and not easily swayed. Imagine inviting the person you are interacting with to step into the lantern’s light with you and ask this person to describe his or her experience and perspective.

Dr. Hanks explains that many people fear that asserting their needs will jeopardize their relationships. She goes on to describe how the five steps in asserting ourselves actually serve to improve our relationships with our loved ones.

You can access a free chapter of Dr. Hanks’ Assertiveness Guide for Women at assertivenessguide.com.

You can also listen to our discussion here. Be sure to let me know what you discovered as you tried these tips.

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How Can You Connect More In Your Relationships?

Relationships can be some of the most incredible experiences of our lives. They can also be hard.

You want to feel connected to your partner, but it feels like there is a wall up between the two of you.

You want to understand your partner, but sometimes it feels like you’re speaking two different languages.

You have the same argument again and again. You can predict exactly how it will go, yet can never come to a resolution.

You may be facing a crisis, like infidelity, in your relationship and you’re trying to figure out if you even want to stay.

Maybe you find yourself listening to your partner, but focusing more on what you want to say next. And maybe you find yourself holding back on what you want to say out of a fear that it will cause a bigger issue.

One of the most important skills in relationships is effective communication. We may not ordinarily have trouble communicating and exchanging ideas or information with our partner, but find that when difficult situations come up, we can’t seem to get on the same page.

Most of us are guilty of these mistakes. In fact, these kinds of communication challenges can sometimes become so ingrained that many of us don’t even notice when we’re guilty of them. However, the consequences of ineffective communication take a toll. Feeling unheard can lead to resentment, frustration, and pain.

I want to point out that, sometimes, the best communication will still end with the acknowledgment: “We disagree.” But that’s OK‐it’s far better than the alternative: “I’m right, and you’re wrong.”

The ability to express your own ideas effectively is only half of what it takes to be a good communicator. Listening is the second half. This means more than simply hearing words. It means hearing, thinking, interpreting, and striving to understand. If we’re thinking about the next thing we want to say, we aren’t really listening. We’re just hearing.

Reflections are a powerful tool to improve communication between you and your partner. Using a technique called reflection can quickly help you become a better listener. When reflecting, you will repeat back what your partner has just said to you in your own words. Those who haven’t used reflections fear that it’ll seem like they’re just parroting the other person without contributing to the conversation. However, reflections typically result in a positive response.

Those who haven’t used reflections fear that it’ll seem like they’re just parroting the other person without contributing to the conversation. However, reflections typically result in a positive response.

So, what do reflections actually do? They act as confirmation that we heard, and more importantly, understand, what our partner has said. Reflections validate a person’s feelings by showing that we get it.

Often, a concern I hear is that it might seem like a reflection would kill a conversation ‐ there’s no new question to answer. Paradoxically, though, the opposite is generally true. Reflections encourage more sharing because our partner can trust that we are listening.

Learning to use reflections does take practice. As you first begin to practice it’s typical for reflections to feel a bit forced. But if you implement reflections regularly, they’ll quickly start to feel natural once you and your partner begin to notice how helpful the responses are. Oh, and start with less serious or neutral topics, at least in the beginning!

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What Does a Typical Group Look Like?

You may have heard the buzz about my upcoming Mindfulness Matters group and might find yourself wondering what a typical group is like. I thought I would give you some details so that you can see how this might help serve you in learning to more deeply connect with what you want in your life, create more satisfying relationships, and improve your sense of self-worth and love!

I start by doing an activity for the members to get to know each other so we can keep building our skills together over the course of the 12 weeks. I then begin introducing a new skill each week and using an activity or handout to help the particpants get a clearer understanding of that skill and make it applicable to them in their daily lives.

Then, I open it up to the members to:

1) provide feedback on the skill being taught that week

2) give an example of how they had successfully used a skill previously learned during the week

3) talk about a time during the week when they were unable to implement a skill and get feedback from myself and/or other group members on how they could have handled themselves/their emotions differently

4) receive feedback from the group on any other pressing issue that came up during the week and is causing distress so we can troubleshoot together and come up with ways to help them cope

Want even more information? Check out the details here!

P.S. Groups are an amazing way to lean how to express oursevles and understand that we are not alone. The Mindfulness Matters Group will run on Tuesdays from 5:30pm to 6:30pm beginning on July 11th and running through September 26th.

If this group looks like a good fit for you, contact me for more details. 

Ready to talk more about how the Mindfulness Matters group can bring you greater focus, deeper confidence, and finally quiet that inner critic? Get access HERE!

Curious what I can offer you to help build the life you love? Get in touch!

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