Summer Self-Care Strategies

Though summer is beginning to wind down, I usually find that these next few weeks are when things can get very hectic leading into the fall season.

That’s why I’ve created this list of five self-care strategies to ensure that you hit the ground running this fall, feeling re-energized and ready to finish the year strong.

Challenge: Can you accomplish all five of these by the end of August?

  • Enjoy the outdoors. Before we know it, it will be fall, and then winter again! The heat, especially here in Atlanta, can be suffocating at times. But if you are like me, when it starts to get cool around November or so, you think back nostalgically to the summer heat and wish you had taken advantage of it more. What do you like to do outdoors? Whether it’s fishing, camping, hiking, or simply going for a morning walk at the park, see if you can make time to connect with nature a little more before the weather cools off. Getting outside is good for our minds and our bodies, and can be an amazing form of self-care.
  • Get organized. Did you miss the spring-cleaning season? No shame in that! It’s not too late. Summer is a great chance to get things straightened up before the hustle and bustle of fall comes around. Identify a couple of areas in your home or at your office that you can clean, re-organize and de-clutter. You’ll be glad you did it now when things aren’t as busy. Organizing your frequently-used spaces can help you feel relaxed and at ease, and can increase productivity. (Side note: If you are interested in learning more about ways to de-clutter, Joshua Becker’s book The More of Less is a great resource about minimizing and how it can positively affect your life.)
  • Set intentions. Can you believe that we are over halfway through 2018? Now is the time to renew your intentions for the year. Think back to the New Year’s resolutions you set back in January. How are you doing on those? What have you accomplished so far and what have you been lax with? Are there things you want to work on more in these last few months of the year? Re-assessing and resetting your intentions for these last several months will guide how you spend your time better and help you reach your goals.
  • Plan a “stay-cation”. We tend to think of vacations as going far far away from home for a whole week, and those kinds of vacations usually require lots of money, time off work, maybe even dog-sitters or other arrangements. Try expanding your idea of a vacation. A “stay-cation” can be just as effective in giving you that post-vacation feeling of rejuvenation! Take a short day trip to a nearby destination that you’ve never been to before. I’m willing to bet that there’s lots to see even within 100 miles of wherever you are that you haven’t explored yet. When we appreciate what’s in our own backyard, traveling and exploring becomes a lot more realistic and practical.
  • Catch up with a friend. There’s almost always a friend or two that come to mind when you think of people you haven’t talked to in a while, particularly in these summer months when things are so busy. Nourish one of your friendships by reaching out to someone you haven’t caught up with in a while. Maybe they can join you on your stay-cation or an outdoor adventure! Nurturing your friendships is a good kind of self-care because these relationships are beneficial to your emotional and mental health. As with any healthy relationship, you get out what you put in.

Was this list helpful to you? Do you have any of your own summer self-care tips you’d like to share? Feel free to comment or e-mail me your thoughts. 🙂


7 Things You Can Do to Help Your Partner With Their Anxiety

As a partner of someone with anxiety, it might sometimes feel like you’re at a loss of how to help. It’s tough to feel like you wish you knew how to make your loved one feel better, but you just don’t. You don’t want to do something wrong and you definitely don’t want to do nothing. Well, you’ve come to the right place! Here’s some ideas to try…

1. Learn about their anxiety.

One of the best things you can do is educate yourself about anxiety so that you can understand some of what your partner’s inner world is like. Anxiety occurs when worrying or apprehension becomes excessive and disrupts the person’s day-to-day life. It can be classified as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or another disorder characterized by symptoms of anxiety such as OCD, or panic disorder, but a person can also experience anxiety without meeting all of the criteria of a disorder. It’s important to understand your partner’s experience of anxiety and how it shows up for them. And the only way to do this is to ask.

2. Listen to their worries, but also notice when they need to be distracted. 

A powerful component of anxiety is that when you “feed” your worry thoughts by ruminating on them, they get bigger. Focusing too much on your worries will only make them seem more daunting and overwhelming. So, your partner may need to talk to you sometimes about their worries so that they can get them off their chest, and this can be helpful. But when you notice them starting to ruminate, you can help by changing the subject to something positive. Recalling a happy memory, like an inside joke you two have or a fun experience you shared together, not only serves as a great distraction, it also actually changes brain pathways, making your partner’s anxiety decrease.

3. Don’t panic if they have a panic attack.

People who have anxiety are more likely to experience a panic attack at some point in their life. Panic attacks feel slightly different from person to person, but often involve a sudden, intense feeling of fear, pounding heart rate, sweating, dizziness, trembling, and shortness of breath. Though there is no instant cure for a panic attack, there are many things that your partner can do to help the symptoms dissipate quicker. One specific thing you can do if your partner is with you when an attack comes on, is ask them if they would like to be hugged. If they say yes, grab a large blanket (a weighted blanket is best if you have one), wrap it around their shoulders, and hold your partner tightly in your arms while you take deep breaths with them. Always ask first, and be okay with the fact that they might prefer to ride it out on their own.

4. Commit to more time together away from technology.

Research is showing that technology, specifically cell phones and social media, may be affecting our levels of stress. Higher levels of stress correspond with more anxiety. Detaching from technology now and then serves the purpose of keeping stress levels in check, as well as bringing couples closer together. Make a pact not to check your phones when you’re on a date. If you have kids with a sitter at home, you can change the settings on your phone so that even when it’s on “Do Not Disturb”, it will only ring when certain people call. If you don’t really need your phones for any reason, maybe leave them in the car. You will notice that spending long amounts of time away from the phone is difficult at first, but helps you enjoy the present moment more.


Photo by Tj Holowaychuk on Unsplash

5. Don’t say “don’t worry”. Let them feel their feelings.

The least helpful thing for a person with anxiety to hear is “stop worrying so much”. Anxiety can’t be turned off like a light switch. Your partner is already probably feeling guilty or shameful, angry at themselves, or even depressed about their worrying. They know that their worries aren’t founded in truth or logic. But they can’t help how they feel. Rather than add to their negative feelings by telling them they shouldn’t worry, validate their feelings instead. Simply telling them, “it’s okay that you feel this way”, or “I’m here for you and you’ll get through this”, or “I understand why this upsets you”, are powerful ways to let your partner know that you get it, you care about them, and you’re not going anywhere.

6. Practice your own self-care.

Remember that it is not your responsibility to “fix” your partner or make their worries go away. This is unhealthy for both of you because you are putting unfair expectations on your partner and on yourself for things to get better. Recognize when you need to step back and turn your attention inwards. Take care of yourself by maintaining your daily activities, making space in your schedule to de-stress in healthy ways, and checking in with your feelings every now and then. It’s good for your own emotional and mental health, and you’ll be better able to attend to the relationship when your own needs are being met. You can’t pour from an empty cup. 

7. Last but not least, remember that they are not their anxiety.

Your partner is so much more than their anxious feelings. They are strong, brave, and resilient. Don’t walk on eggshells around them or baby them. They pick up on this and it can be frustrating. Also, when you focus too much on their anxiety, you start veering into a therapist or parent role, and this is treading dangerous waters. Instead, help them notice and take pride in their strengths and all the great qualities they have. This builds them up, and it allows you to continue being their awesome partner who loves and supports them.


Photo by Honey Fangs on Unsplash

Is Your Relationship Caught in the Comparison Trap?

Do you ever find your mind drawing comparisons between yourself and your peer, your friend, your family member, or even a complete stranger?

Sometimes, you might even compare your relationship to the relationships of people around you.

Especially in this age of social media and technology, we are constantly exposed to “data” about other people, so it’s nearly impossible to avoid looking at this data and thinking about how our own lives look in comparison.

Comparison is a harmful trap.

When we compare ourselves to others, we tend to fall short. This is because the “data” we often use to make the comparison is really selective. We see the “highlight reels” of other people’s lives, rather than the whole picture.

We see the cute Instagram picture of a smiling couple with a loving caption, the Facebook status update announcing a new home, a promotion at work, a baby on the way, a new car, all the happy things. What we don’t often see is the real life stuff in between all those successes. The hard times, the bad days, the stressful, messy moments.

It’s not just through social media that this happens. Sometimes, when we interact with people out in public, we may find ourselves focusing on the best features of that person, and then comparing ourselves to those.

So, of course it makes sense that when you look at all those happy moments and all those great features, you say to yourself, “My life doesn’t look like that at all.”


The thing is, when you keep making these comparisons over and over again and fall short every time, you start to think, “If I am not like so-and-so, I must not be successful”, “I must not be happy”, or “I must not be (fill in the blank)”. You start having trouble recognizing your own successes, achievements, and features, because you are so focused on the ones you lack.

When this happens, your relationship falls into the trap too. You start focusing on the things your relationship and your partner might lack as well.

You find yourself holding the relationship to expectations that are unrealistic, and you start seeing only the negative qualities of your partner rather than the things you love about them. You might even find yourself wanting your partner to succeed just so you can look better.

Your partner might start feeling like nothing they do is good enough for you. You might begin to think, “If this relationship isn’t like X and Y’s, it must not be meant to be”.

See how dangerous this trap can become?

It’s so important to have self-compassion. You are not perfect, and that’s okay. You might not have the same kind of success or the same great features as another person, but the achievements and qualities you do have are valuable too.

Your relationship, like every relationship, is imperfect too. It can be messy, complicated, and stressful. Your partner’s imperfections, like yours, make them human. Embrace your partner for all that they are, and don’t focus on the things they are not.

Have compassion for all the parts of your life: the good, the bad and the ugly.

When you see a friend, peer, or stranger and your mind points out their successes or good features, notice if any feelings of envy or jealousy come up. Gently tell those feelings that they aren’t necessary. You don’t need to put yourself down. You can have peace and contentment with who you are and where you are in life. You can celebrate your own successes and achievements and those of others.

If you can do this, you will find the happiness that you were looking for. It was right there in front of you the whole time.


If you’d like to learn more about the Comparison Trap and how not to fall into it, click here.

Photo by Ibrahim Boran on Unsplash






This “Relationship Hack” Changes the Game For Couples During Arguments

In this day and age, instant gratification is all around us. We have gotten used to having a quick fix for almost everything.


Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick fix for a lot of big relationship problems. Most of them require hard work and patience.

But, there are some in-the-moment tools that couples can use to make the problem more manageable.

YouTuber “Prince Ea” posted the video below that outlines a great 5-step tool for couples who often find themselves getting into intense and heated arguments.

Pretty interesting “hack”, right?

You might be thinking, “There’s no way a couple in the middle of fighting can stop and do this.”

I’m not going to lie. It would be difficult.

But here’s why I think pausing an argument is extremely effective:

Anger and stress can interfere with our ability to think clearly, speak in healthy ways, and react appropriately.

When we are angry, we’re more likely to say something we didn’t mean to, take something our partner says personally, and think in ways that aren’t in the best interest of the relationship. We stop looking at the big picture.

As the video shows, taking deep breaths, focusing on the present moment, holding hands, and embracing are some things we can do to stop these negative interactions in their tracks.

They slow us down at the physiological, mental, and emotional levels.

As our heart rates slow, we are better able to think logically about the situation, or maybe even realize that this is a battle we don’t even want to fight anyways.

And if it is an issue that really does need attention, that’s a great opportunity to get the help of a mediator who can make sure you resolve the conflict without causing further damage.

Featured photo by Luiz Hanfilaque on Unsplash

The Fear of Loneliness

My book club chose to read An American Marriage by Tayari Jones last month. It’s a roller coaster of a story about a marriage that faces several obstacles, including one partner being incarcerated, infidelity, and “in-law” problems, to name a few.

In one of the husband’s letters to his wife from prison, he said something that really stood out to me.

“The one thing I don’t miss is how we fought so much. I can’t believe we wasted so much time fussing over nothing. I think about every time I hurt you. I think about the times when I could have made you feel secure, but I let you worry simply because I liked being worried about. I think about that and I feel like a damn fool. A damn lonesome fool.”

Lonesome. I thought that a curious choice of words. Even while fussing and bickering with his wife, his inner experience was one of loneliness.

I thought about how loneliness, or more specifically the fear of loneliness, really drives a lot of our actions in our relationships.

It’s no secret to researchers that loneliness has drastic effects on our mental and physical health. It is one of our primal instincts to connect with other people. We need it not only to survive, but to thrive.

everton-vila-140207-unsplashPhoto by Everton Vila on Unsplash

When we feel that these connections are being threatened, and that there is a risk of feeling lonely and disconnected from the ones we love, it can feel very scary.

It may even lead us to act in ways that further strain these connections.

Imagine a recent argument you had with your partner, or a family member, or a close friend.

When you boil it down to the root of the disagreement, what do you hear?

Do you hear yourself yearning to be closer to your partner?

Do you hear your friend wishing you’d included her in that event last weekend?

Maybe it’s the voice of a family member who felt misunderstood by you?

In each of these situations, the conflict came from a threat to the connection you and that person had. Sure, it wasn’t presented in that way, and it may even have been presented in a totally counterproductive and possibly even hurtful way.

But often, when a conflict comes up between two people who love each other, it’s because one of them felt that their connection was at risk.

When you were fuming at your partner for forgetting about your dinner plans, there was likely a little voice in the back of your head saying “maybe this connection isn’t as strong as I thought it was”.

Here comes that lonely feeling.

And then comes the fear, and then comes the anger, and then comes the argument.

So, if you find yourself in an argument with a loved one, I encourage you to take a second and try to listen for that voice. Whether it’s yours or your loved one’s, try and find the underlying reason one of you is upset.

Odds are, one of you is looking for more closeness.




Thank you for joining me. Whether you stumbled across this on accident or are visiting intentionally, I am glad you are here!

This is my first blog post, and I am very excited to be starting this journey. I began providing psychotherapy in 2014, and even prior to that, I felt strongly that helping others create healthy and happy lives has always been my vocation. I now practice in a private practice setting as well as in a recovery center and feel so fulfilled by the work that my clients and I accomplish together. I have been eager to create a blog so that even if I can’t work with you personally, I can still share some of my insights and the resources that I’ve found helpful for myself and those that I encounter in my work.

My hope is to update this blog regularly and provide tips on mental, emotional, and relational wellness, access to resources and support, and also simply to create a space for you to know that you are not alone with whatever you are feeling.

You are always encouraged to start a dialogue with me about any of the content you find on here, or just about anything else! I am open to feedback, questions, comments, or concerns. And I will always respond.