Making changes to improve health or reduce stress can feel overwhelming
Are you working with a functional, integrative, precision, or other healthcare provider to heal an illness or optimize your health? Are you looking for support to make the dietary or other lifestyle changes they've recommended?
Are you a busy person struggling to give yourself self-care? Do you feel desperate to carve out time for yourself, and to identify your own needs and goals? Do you think about seeing a therapist, but haven't because you don't seem to have a ''problem'' that justifies it?
Do you need to minimize stress in order to be more fully present in your work and your relationships? Do you recognize that you benefit from preventative mental health care, or would manage stressors better if you developed healthier habits?
Making big shifts in the way you eat, or other healthy lifestyle changes, can challenge even the most successful people--especially if crutches such as caffeine, sugar, and burning the candle at both ends are what have kept you going.
You likely know how impactful it is to connect with your intentions and set goals, but the routine demands of life can get in the way of getting it done. If you’re a parent or another caregiver, you probably put yourself last, even knowing you’d be more effective if you didn’t.
You may be someone who ''overthinks,'' feels intensely, or both, making you feel scattered and constantly on edge although you always manage to hold your life together. You may feel easily overstimulated, and crave ways to feel calm and mindful.
It's frustrating when you feel motivated to improve your life, but can't seem to actually move the needle. You may already know what you need to accomplish, or you may need to carve out time to figure it out. Wellness planning is designed to translate self-improvement thoughts into goals, and goals into actions. You may need to make changes that support healing from a chronic illness, or you may simply want to level up your mental and physical health. You may want a clear path for moving forward after a difficult personal chapter, or a plan to holistically manage addiction recovery like the chronic disease that it is--with efforts to heal not just your mind and spirit, but your body as well.
The current level of world chaos is making it even harder to feel in order
Between the pandemic and national unrest, we're obviously facing an unprecedented level of collective and personal stress. If you've historically been adept at masking stress with busy-ness or other types of distraction, it's likely been harder for you to do lately. If you're the type who's always struggled with keeping stress at bay anyway, you probably feel as if you're drowning.
As difficult as things have been and continue to be, it's also a reminder that more than ever, we need to focus on what really matters--either to reflect your deeper values, or just to stay afloat. As many have noted, the seismic shifts in awareness and routine have also created a unique opportunity to make personal changes. Wellness planning is a way to maximize internal peace when there's so much outside of us we can't control, and to capitalize on the momentum of change that appears to be building.
Helping you connect dots between mental and physical health challenges
Wellness planning is especially ideal if you like the idea of working with a health coach for accountability, but would also like the support and perspective of a licensed mental health therapist. For example, if you've been given directives for lifestyle changes from a functional or integrative medicine practitioner, I'm educated enough about most non-conventional treatment approaches to understand the goal. I also have training in mental health nutrition, so while I'm not certified to create a comprehensive dietary plan or make actual recommendations for supplements, I can provide information about targeted nutritional approaches (alternatives to pharmaceuticals) for anxiety and depression symptoms, which you can (and should) then discuss with your medical provider. Additionally, by connecting dots between your physical and mental health history, I can help you develop a broader perspective on mood and behavior challenges. Finally, it if resonates with you, we could add a somatic therapy to facilitate additional healing at the limbic system level, where physiology is linked to emotional experience.
To better illustrate the above, if you're trying to improve gut health due to irritable bowel symptoms or eczema, knowing how serotonin and other neurotransmitters of well-being are impacted by gut dysbiosis will help you understand how biological factors might have contributed to your anxiety history. If you're new to the concept, you may be glad to learn about some foods that support the gut microbiome, or about over-the-counter approaches to boosting serotonin that you can then discuss with your doctor. In a complementary way, mind-body therapies like EMDR and Emotional Freedom Technique can decrease stress biochemicals elevated by chronic stress or trauma, and can also begin to reframe negative identity associations that developed or worsened as you struggled with that anxiety.
Wellness planning is also ideal if you're motivated to optimize your addiction recovery, and need a perspective that's outside the box. With the exception of a few progressive rehabs and clinics around the country, treatment programs underrate the importance of nutrition and exercise for healing the biochemical deficiencies behind cravings and mood swings. There's nothing wrong with using medication to manage those issues, especially if it saves your life or capacity for parenting. But whether you use medication or not, physical health is every bit as important to recovery as mental and spiritual health.
Combining the science of behavior change with the momentum of personal intention
After learning about your challenges and goals, I'll help you develop an individualized plan (ideally balancing body, mind, and spirit, although one area may need the most attention) that resonates with your values and actually feels realistic for you to accomplish. In fact, substantial clinical research by the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University indicates that you should begin with a ‘’ridiculously easy’’ step for the best success of creating a habit.
As failed New Year’s resolutions have taught most of us, ambitious goals for abrupt, sweeping change simply don’t seem to work with human nature. In addition to the sense that readiness for change tends to correspond with the seasonal cycles of nature, our brain chemistry evolved to motivate in ways that feel more pleasant. Our high-achievement culture has trained most of us to self-sabotage progress with constant inner criticism, but you can reset that voice.
Depending upon what you need, a holistic plan could include goals such as:
Decreasing poor eating habits and emphasizing nutrition
Increasing movement or other forms of somatic wellness, such as bodywork
Simplifying your life with elimination of unnecessary obligations or clutter
Decreasing use of electronics or other sources of toxins that impede health
Establishment of positive daily ritual, such as spiritual practice or emotional self-care
Prioritizing certain relationships with intentional thoughts and actions
In addition to the fact that research demonstrates tiny steps are effective for creating new habits, they’re also a way to move forward if you happen to be in the midst of a deep personal shift that requires long periods of incubation and integration. When you’re stuck, it’s a way to feel less stuck. Transpersonal therapy approaches may help with this as well.
Shouldn't I be able to do this work myself, though? I'm already short on time.
You probably can do this work yourself, but will you get around to it? Day-to-day, it can feel like there's always a more urgent item on the to-do list, or a more tempting invitation to watch Netflix. Also, will it feel as meaningful as it would if you collaborated with someone else? If you've ever been to a workshop or a retreat focused on self-improvement, you've likely experienced the impact that arises from hearing yourself saying things aloud, and from having someone else witness your intention. A co-creation process has a significantly different feeling than writing down a list by yourself-- it feels more actual because it is. You may also benefit from an objective perspective in your identification of goals and action steps. For example, you may need permission to start smaller, encouragement to go bigger, or feedback that some of your intentions contradict one another.
Wellness planning doesn't have to become another time-consuming thing in your life. In some cases, one session may be all it takes to develop the plan or clarity you need. If you have a block to making progress that seems rooted in an identity issue or a dysfunctional feeling state, a somatic therapy can be a highly efficient way to explore the pattern behind it, and develop new insight about how to move forward more effectively.
Offering the big-picture perspective wish I had twenty years ago
Twenty years ago, I began to intuitively work my way out of mental health challenges and the personal disorganization they created. By necessity, I became open to new ways of thinking, and as I applied the knowledge from different learning environments--from holistic health settings, to ones aligned with conventional psychiatric treatment--I gradually developed the wellness paradigm now reflected in functional and integrative healthcare. Although I encountered several practitioners along the way who contributed key pieces to my perspective, I aim to be the therapist I wish I had at the beginning of my journey: one who put it all the information together, and helped me approach overwhelming change in a simplified way.
I would be honored to hear your story and facilitate your change.