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How to Kick the Cravings and Retrain Your Tastebuds for a Healthier Diet

By Nutrition No Comments

Do you tend to opt for a donut and vanilla latte in the morning? Does your lunch typically include a soda? Do you always have dessert with dinner and maybe even a sweet treat before bed?

Do you also find that the more sugary foods you eat, the more you crave them and the hungrier you feel?  It is indeed a vicious cycle!

The good news is, there are actual ways you can STOP the cravings for sweets and junk food and retrain your tastebuds to want healthy foods. Use the following tips to help you get healthy once and for all!

Avoid Refined Carbohydrates

When we eat foods high in simple carbohydrates like pasta and bread, it causes a blood sugar spike, which leads to more sugar cravings. In order to get a handle on your tastebuds and overall health, you really need to cut out refined carbs and replace them with complex carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes and brown rice.

Eat More Protein

Research has uncovered an interesting fact: your body will force you to eat in order to get enough protein! That’s why when you eat a lot of carbs you still feel really hungry and keep eating. It’s because your body NEEDS way more protein to be healthy than you are giving it. Eat more quality protein from meats, eggs, and dairy. You’ll find that a lot of your cravings will quickly subside and you’ll feel fuller longer.

Eat More Healthy Fats

Healthy fats found in foods like fatty fish, eggs, nuts, and avocados are important for your overall health. And, like protein, they will help to satiate you. Fat is also important for brain health. Many mood disorders, like depression, stem from a lack of healthy fats in the diet. When we feel depressed or anxious, we tend to reach for unhealthy comfort foods laden with trans fats and refined sugars. So be sure to eat plenty of healthy fats.

Stay Hydrated

We think of hydration as getting enough water in the diet. But hydration is about ensuring we have a proper balance of electrolytes. Just as our body will crave all kinds of foods in an effort to get enough protein, it will also try to get you to eat to get enough salt and other important electrolytes like calcium and potassium. Try using sea salt instead of refined table salt, and/or opt to take an electrolyte supplement every day.

When you know WHY your body is craving certain foods – because it is trying to get you to eat what it REALLY needs – then you can take the appropriate steps to stop the cravings and get healthy once and for all!

 

SOURCES:

 

4 Subtle Exercises to Calm Anxiety in Public

By Anxiety No Comments

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults over the age of 18 suffer from an anxiety disorder. If you are one of them, you know how difficult your life can feel most days.

When anxiety strikes, the world around us can become a sort of funhouse, only not that much fun. It’s important to be able to self-soothe in these instances. But how can you calm an anxiety attack subtly when you’re out in public?

 

Breath Work

As soon as you feel the anxiety coming on, focus intently on your breathing and nothing else. Begin to take slow… deep breaths. Inhale for a slow count of three… hold for a count of three… and exhale for a count of three. Slow deep breaths send a signal to our body that we are not under attack and everything is okay.

 

Talk to Yourself

In your mind, remind yourself that you are having an experience but that you are NOT that experience. While you feel that something is wrong, remind yourself that you are actually safe and all is well.

 

Visualize

Think of something that calms you. This may be your childhood bedroom or your grandparent’s home. It could be your favorite beach or your own bathtub. Simply put yourself IN that space. Use your full imagination to feel yourself there and allow the calm to settle over you.

 

Practice Listening Meditation

If you’ve never tried listening meditation, I highly recommend it for everyone. But it can be especially beneficial when you are feeling anxious, and here’s why. Listening requires you to stop thinking. Try it now. Stop reading and instead listen to all of the ambient sounds there in the room with you, outside the door and window.

What do you hear?

Let your sense of hearing grow and grow, picking up more subtle sounds. The buzz of the lights overhead… the noise of the ice maker… a bee at the window… your dog’s collar down the hall…

It’s actually a very fun exercise to do. And in order to REALLY GIVE SOUND YOUR FULL ATTENTION, you can’t think while listening. It’s a bit like trying to juggle while standing on your hands, it simply cannot be done.

Much of our anxiety comes from our anxious thoughts. It’s our reptilian brain trying to keep us alive by alerting us to all of the dangers around us. But when we meditate, this mind chatter goes away.

 

When an anxiety attack comes on, life can feel unbearable. The next time this happens to you in public, try one or more of these techniques.

And if you’d like to speak with someone about your anxiety, please get in touch. I’d be happy to explore treatment options.

Helping Your Teenager Transform into a Happy, Well-Rounded Adult

By Parenting No Comments

Raising kids is one of the toughest jobs on the planet. You do everything you can to make sure they stay safe and healthy. And then a study comes out that states that happy kids grow up to be more successful adults. (Great, so now they have to be happy as well!).

It turns out that happiness is a big advantage in the real world. According to the study, happy people are more likely to earn a college degree, land a good job with better pay, and get promoted more quickly than unhappy people.

So how exactly can you help your teen transform into a happy and successful adult?

Build Resilience

Part of being happy comes from knowing your own resilience; knowing that when life knocks you down, you’ll get right back up. Resilience isn’t a latent talent, but a skill that can be developed.

You can help your child build resilience by teaching them how to put things into perspective. Being able to face challenges and adapt to constant change means recognizing the significance, or insignificance, of life events. Teach your kids not to sweat the small stuff and choose their battles wisely.

Instill Productivity

Feelings of accomplishment naturally lead to happiness. We feel good about ourselves when we are productive individuals. You can instill productivity in your child by helping them make decisions on their own over time. The more autonomy an individual has, the more able they are to get things done.

It’s also important that you help your teen discover their interests, talents and abilities. People that known their passions and what makes them tick have a knack for reaching goals.

Encourage Independence

It may seem counterintuitive, but teenagers cannot gain independence on their own. They simply don’t have the perspective or experience necessary to separate from you. Independence is actually a gift you give to your children. You can help your teen become more independent by:

  • Teaching responsibility – Help your kid have a clear understanding of what is expected of them at home and at school as well as the consequences for not fulfilling those expectations.
  • Demand Accountability – Make sure you stick to your guns and see those consequences through to the end. If you don’t hold your child accountable for their own behavior and actions, how will they be able to hold themselves accountable as adults?
  • Practice letting go – It’s important not to send mixed signals to your teen during this time. As you help them become more independent, practice letting them go. Be open to stepping back as they step forward.

You and your teenager are embarking on an exciting journey; one with many ups and downs. The best thing you can do is to let your kid know you are there for them and that they can talk to you about anything. Good communication is crucial during this time.

If you could use some help talking with your teenager, consider family therapy. A therapist can facilitate effective communication and offer tools that will help your teen become the adult they are meant to be.

If you’d like to explore therapy, please be in touch. I’d be happy to discuss how I might be able to help you.

3 Things Happy People Do Differently

By Self-Esteem No Comments

Do a search right now on Amazon books on the topic of “Happiness” and you will be returned page after page of titles, all claiming to have the secret to finding it. Why our obsession with happiness? Maybe the better questions is, why does happiness seem to elude so many people?

At one time, humans were too busy running from Sabre-Tooth Tigers and searching for food to be concerned with whether or not they were happy. But, thanks to drive-thru windows, penicillin and financial security, modern man has extended his mortality and now has the time to focus on self-growth.

An expanding body of research has also suggested that happiness doesn’t just feel good, it is linked to other benefits such as better immune-system function and higher earnings. No wonder so many of us pine for it.

But what is happiness exactly? We feel happy when we are with the people we love. We feel happy when we’re watching a funny movie or eating our favorite pasta dish. But happiness seems more than just an emotion because emotions are fleeting and transient.

So, what is it then?

Happiness is a state of mind, and as such, can be intentional and strategic. This is good news because it means we can intentionally make choices that lead to a positive state of mind – AKA happiness. We can look to the people who seem naturally happy and copy what they do.

And here’s what they do:

They Understand Growth is Painful

Many people play life safe. They eat at the same restaurants, vacation at the same place every year and spend time with the same people. But sustained happiness is not about being safe and settled. It’s about discovery and growth, which require life lived outside of your comfort zone.

They Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Happy people don’t sweat the small stuff and they are not perfectionists. Rather, they possess a devil-may-care attitude about their performance. A review of research literature found that the happiest people, those who scored a 9 or 10 out of 10 on measures of life satisfaction, typically didn’t perform as well as moderately happy people in accomplishments such as grades, class attendance or work salaries.

This is not to say that we should all stop trying our best. But it does suggest that it’s okay to sacrifice some degree of achievement if it means we don’t have to sweat the small stuff and worry ourselves into glumness.

They Feel Their Feelings

You would think that really happy people are happy all the time, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Psychologically healthy people are those that understand the importance of letting some things roll off their backs as well as feeling their genuine emotions. Happy people don’t deny their distasteful or uncomfortable emotions, they don’t sweep them under the rug. They instead use their negative emotions as signals so they can make different choices in the future.

For instance, a happy person might feel jealous because a coworker got a promotion and they didn’t. These people don’t wallow in the feeling of jealousy. They see this emotion as a signal that they could have done something differently to achieve a more desirable outcome.

If you don’t think you are as happy as you should be, try to take more risks, don’t sweat the small stuff and feel out your feelings while looking for ways to make better choices.

If you’ve always been someone who shies away from their emotions, it may be difficult to feel out your feelings. A therapist can help you get acquainted with your emotional life and offer tools so you can navigate your emotions in the future.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

How to Help Your Teen Become a Happy, Productive Adult

By Parenting No Comments

Adolescence is a critical life stage. In fact, during ages 11-20, the foundation for who your child will become is laid out. It is your responsibility as a parent to guide your teen through the turbulent tides of adolescence and guide them onto the shores of happy adulthood. Here are ways that you can support your adolescent through the challenging teen years and help them become happy productive adults.

Be there– Teens may act like they don’t need you, but they really do. Create space for honest non-judgmental conversations. Take time to listen to them and get to know them properly. This will increase the trust in your relationship, and they’re less likely to rebel against the good advice that you give.

Reduce the rules – Rules are great but set them only when necessary. Your home shouldn’t resemble a military boot camp. Enforce the rules with respect and always make sure your teen realizes the consequences of different actions.

Set expectations– Help your teen be his/her best self. Be clear about what you expect from your teens such as good grades, acceptable behavior, tidiness, and the type of friends they keep. By setting appropriate expectations, you’re helping your teen become more responsible.

Walk the talk– You’re the first example of an adult that your teen sees, therefore you need to set a good example for your teens and embody the kind of adult you want them to become. Remember that your teen is always watching, so adopt positive habits.

Encourage self-care– Adolescence is filled with a lot of pressure and activities, which is why you need to inculcate the value of a good diet, less screen time, exercise, mental health and getting proper sleep in your teen. Teach them to always put themselves first.

Affirm them constantly– Always tell your teenagers they’re amazing. This helps them develop confidence in themselves, which is crucial because as they grow older, self-doubt begins to creep in, and hearing positive affirmations from you will go a long way in developing their self-worth.

Expand their world- Adolescence is a great time for broadening horizons. Encourage your teen to explore all their interests, take part in activities they’re curious about, visit new places and gain new experience. Your teen will benefit immensely from exposure to all these different ideas, places and cultures and grow into a well-rounded adult who’s equipped to tackle challenges.

If you could use some help talking with your teenager, consider family therapy. A therapist can facilitate effective communication and offer tools that will help your teen become the adult they are meant to be.

If you’d like to explore therapy, please be in touch. I’d be happy to discuss how I might be able to help you.

Coping with the Holidays After Loss

By Depression, General, Grief No Comments

For many people, the holidays are about spending time with loved ones. But for those who have suffered a recent loss, the holidays can be painful and isolating.

Here are some ways you can cope with the holidays after a loss:

Recognize You are Not Alone

It’s easy to feel as though you are the only one experiencing great pain during the holiday season. Everywhere you turn, people seem to be happy, putting up decorations, buying gifts and making holiday plans. It’s important to recognize the truth right now, and that is that you are not alone. There are people all over the world who have experienced loss, some perhaps very recently.

Honor Your Pain

No one expects you to feel joyful and in the holiday mood right now, so don’t feel as though you must pretend for others’ sake. It is very important that you honor whatever emotions you may be experiencing, whether it’s sadness, anger, regret or a combination.

Take Your Time

The holidays are usually a busy time for people. There is much to accomplish and many events to host and/or attend. You do not have to keep your normal schedule this year. You simply will not have the mental or emotional stamina for it. So take the time you need. If you don’t feel like attending many (or any) events this year, that is fine. People will understand.

Help Others in Need

One of the worst parts about losing a loved one is the feeling that we no longer have any control over our lives. Loss makes us feel helpless. One way to fight this feeling is to help others who are in need. As a bonus, connecting with others who are hurting can often be a salve on our hearts as well.

When Don’t These Guidelines Apply?

If you have children, it’s important to understand that they are looking to you right now to know what life will be like from now on. To a child, the loss of a parent or sibling can frighten them terribly. Though you may not at all feel like celebrating the holidays, doing so helps your child know that life does go on and that there is space in your life to feel joy along with sadness.

 

If you have experienced loss and would like to explore grief counseling, please be in touch. You don’t have to suffer alone.

Intuitive Eating During COVID-19

By Nutrition No Comments

COVID-19 can be compared to freshmen year of college – it’s stressful, you feel overwhelmed, and it’s way too easy to pack on an extra 15 pounds! Many of us, having been stuck at home and dealing with stress for the past 4-5 months, have found our eating habits have taken a nosedive.

So how do we remedy this?

Many of us are still in lockdown mode and still dealing with the fear and stress of the pandemic. Are we supposed to try and put ourselves on a strict diet so we can lose weight and get healthy? Strict diets almost never work for most people, particularly when they are dealing with a stressful situation.

A far better solution is to turn to intuitive eating.

What is Intuitive Eating Exactly?

Intuitive Eating is an evidenced-based, mind-body nutritional approach that helps people honor their body and their health. By listening to the body and giving it what it needs nutritionally, you are able to meet your physical and psychological needs.

Now let’s talk about what intuitive eating is NOT.

It is NOT a diet or a specific food plan. It is not something where you restrict certain foods or count calories, carbs, or macros. Dieting and food restriction has never worked long-term. It is not sustainable.

But intuitive eating IS sustainable. This is not a diet but a new way to become self-aware and practice self-love and self-care.

How Does it Work?

Most diets put foods into one of two categories: Spinach goes into the “good” category and cake goes into the “bad” category. Intuitive eating gives a person permission to view all food as good and to eat whatever you like because you are trusting your body to tell you what it wants and needs. Anytime we can tune out the exterior world and tune into ourselves, we are far more apt to find balance and optimal health.

Getting Started

There are a few steps I always recommend clients take to get started with intuitive eating.

1. Start Listening

From a young age, we’re taught to listen to others. But rarely is a young person taught how to tune into themselves. It’s time you start. Check-in with yourself throughout the day to see how you are feeling and what you are thinking. Just begin to listen to your own inner voice more over the coming days and weeks.

2. Drop Those Judgements

What foods have you been told are an absolute no-no? Red meat? Butter? Sugar? It’s time to start reevaluating what you have been told by others and let your body tell you what is “good” and “bad” for YOU.

3. Eat More

If you are someone who comes from a diet mentality that has had you eat less, try and eat more and see how your body responds. Remember, you want to really LISTEN to what your body tells you. Eat 3 meals a day and 2-3 snacks. Do you find you’re still hungry? Do you find you get full easily?

Intuitive eating works and it can help you if you’re dealing with stress eating from COVID. If you need any help or guidance with this new lifestyle, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

SOURCES:

3 Tips to Get You on the Right Side of Calm

By Anxiety No Comments

They say you can wake up on the wrong side of the bed. But many days it feels like you woke up on the wrong side of calm. And who can blame you? Life seems to have gotten more complicated, stressful and chaotic, making it more difficult to feel peaceful and calm.

But there are things you can do each day to get yourself on the right side of calm. Here are 3 of them:

1. Breathe Deeply

Many people are shallow breathers, meaning they take small, short breaths. But did you know shallow breathing is actually part of the “fight or flight” response?  It’s an evolutionary adaptation designed to keep us safe from danger, like that angry sabretooth tiger chasing us. When faced with danger, our heartbeat speeds up and we breathe faster in order to get more oxygen for fighting or fleeing.

Our bodies don’t recognize real danger (that tiger) from modern day danger (that stack of bills). And so we spend most days breathing like our life depends on it.

One of the quickest ways to calm yourself is to slow down your breathing. Many people scoff at the idea that breathing deeply and slowly will do much of anything. Those that try it know deep breaths have an incredible calming affect.

2. Get Familiar with Your Acupressure Points

There are key acupressure points located on your hands, face, and head. These points are near bundles of nerves that, when massaged or tapped, can help relax your entire nervous system.  This is why we instinctively rub our forehead and temples when we’re feeling stressed. You can subtly apply pressure to the meaty part of the hand between the thumb and forefinger when in a stressful meeting, at the airport, or any public setting when you need to calm down but don’t want to call much attention to yourself.

3. Focus on the Positive Things in Your Life

Every night before you fall asleep, think about three things that happened that day you are grateful for. They can be small, like that parking spot in front of the always-busy post office you got this morning, or big, like your son’s ankle was sprained not broken.

Feeling happy and grateful will naturally calm you down and give you a different perspective on things. And, doing this exercise night after night will train your brain to be more positive.

Have you tried these tips in the past but are still dealing with persistent anxiety and worry? Therapy can help you uncover the root cause of your anxiety and provide tools for coping.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

Why Therapy for Caretakers is More Important Than Ever

By General No Comments

Research has shown that roughly 80% of long-term care in this country is provided by family members. Many of these caregivers have their own families to look after and may also be holding down at least one job.

In addition, family caregivers have been shown to ignore their own health and wellness needs. This often leads to caregiver burnout, which is typically defined as a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. Caregivers who reach this burnout stage often experience stress, fatigue, sadness, grief, isolation guilt, anxiety, and depression.

Some other symptoms of caregiver burnout include:

  • Withdrawing from others
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
  • Feeling irritable and helpless
  • Changes in appetite, weight, or both
  • Changes in sleep
  • Compromised immune system
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Excessive use of alcohol or drugs

 

Causes of Caregiver Burnout

Caregivers become easily lost in the person they are caring for and forget that they themselves have needs and wants. Being so busy, they, often without thought, neglect their own mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health and wellbeing.

They also deal with huge challenges and emotions each day, and often without help from anyone else. They push their feelings down so they may remain strong for their loved one who is usually battling a significant health crisis of their own.

 

Counseling Can Be a Lifesaver for Caregivers

Struggling on your own won’t help you or your loved one. It’s important that you get the help you need and deserve.

Talking with someone who will listen compassionately and give you advice and coping tools can take a huge burden off your shoulders.

But perhaps most importantly, a therapist will validate what you are experiencing. This is helpful because you yourself are denying your own existence and your own pain. This is how you have been managing.

A therapist is in your corner. He or she is your champion and will say the things you won’t allow yourself to say. They will point out your own humanity and the need for you to take care of yourself. Hearing this from a neutral third party can often be very helpful.

If you would like to speak with someone, please reach out to me. I want to help you not feel so powerless or isolated.

 

SOURCES:

4 Stay-Fit Tips for People Who Hate Exercise

By Nutrition, Sports / Exercise No Comments

Hate exercising? You’re definitely not alone.

It seems that each year, millions of people around the country start off with good intentions, committing to an exercise plan, only to quit completely a few weeks later.

Look, we understand, exercising is not easy. It’s hard work, but it’s hard work that’s really important for your health and overall well-being. And we want to make sure the next time you commit to an exercise plan, you STAY committed.

So, with that in mind, here are 4 tips that will help you stay fit, even when you hate exercise:

Tip #1: Have Fun

No one says you have to go to the gym 5 days a week and do circuit training. If you hate going to the gym, then find something you actually enjoy doing. Do you like swimming? Hiking? Kayaking? Dancing? Playing basketball? There are PLENTY of ways you can get your body moving, condition your heart while building some lean muscle. Find something you love to do and you’ll actually do it more.

Tip #2: Give Yourself Some Time

The science is out and it says that it takes roughly 30 days for a human being to form a new habit. So you can expect that days 1-29 are going to be challenging to ensure you work out. That’s okay. Just be sure to give yourself adequate time to allow this new habit to form. If you do, you’ll find it does indeed get easier to incorporate exercise into your life.

Tip #3: Build Exercise into Your Daily Life

Some people will swear until they are blue in the face that “they just don’t have time for exercising.” Well, you can easily make time if you build exercise into your life. For instance, if you try and spend time with the family each day, why not get the family to go on a family bike ride after dinner?

If you need to spend an hour each day reading through student papers, why not read through them while on the stationary bike? There are ways you can kill 2 birds with one proverbial stone, so look for ways to do it in your own life.

Tip #4: Take Baby Steps

Too many people make HUGE goals that are simply unrealistic. For example, someone may make a goal to lose 40 pounds in 3 months. Well, that’s not only unrealistic, but it’s also not even healthy.

Someone else may have a goal of running a marathon in 3 months. Well, if you’ve never run a day in your life, that’s also not very realistic.

When starting out, set small goals that you can easily achieve. As an example, your first goal may be to consistently swim for half an hour, three days a week for one month. That’s very doable. And when you reach a goal, it gives you confidence in your abilities and energy to keep going and reach even more goals.

If you follow these 4 tips, you will be able to stick to an exercise plan and see positive results from your efforts. Who knows? You may even learn to LIKE exercising.

 

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