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Lose the excuses! Exercise for your mental health

Lose the excuses! Exercise for your mental health


Exercise and fitness have been on my mind lately. As a faithful watcher of The Biggest Loser’s inspiring stories of overcoming personal hardship to reclaim health and fitness I’m looking forward to the show’s season premiere next Tues. Popular health guru Dr. Oz launched his “Just 10” challenge earlier this week, encouraging viewers to reduce heart disease by 50% & diabetes by 60% & arthritis by 50% by losing 10 lbs. The health benefits of physical activity are well-known, but you may not be aware of the significant mental health benefits of moving your body.

Exercise Improves Your Mental Health by:

Improving Mood

Researchers at Duke University found that exercise is as effective as antidepressant medication for treating depression.

Decreasing Anxiety

University of Georgia study found exercise to be effective at reducing anxiety symptoms.

Improving Memory

Exercise may stimulate areas of the brain responsible for age-related memory loss.

Managing Stress

Exercise may help the body’s systems practice dealing with stress.

Improving Self-esteem

Physical exercise has been shown to improve physical self-concept.

In my therapy practice I’ve often “prescribed” exercise to clients as a means to improve their mood, decrease anxiety, and manage stress levels and I’ve heard all kinds of excuses as to why clients can’t/don’t/won’t exercise. I’ve also used all of these same excuses in my own life at one time or another. Few of us are able to spend several months in a fitness camp, like The Biggest Loser contestants, but all of us can lose our excuses and learn to make exercise a priority for our physical and mental health. Here are some solutions to common exercise excuses.

Solutions to Common Exercise Excuses:

“I don’t have time”

Solution: Build it into your Schedule

Make your personal physical self-care a priority by putting it on your calendar. I recently hired a personal trainer and her available times are in the middle of the day – a time I have never exercised because I don’t want to be sweaty the rest of the day. I have worked through that and show up at my scheduled times because it’s on my schedule.

“I don’t have motivation”

Solution: Buddy system

Exercise with a partner or friend. Find someone who is relying on you to join them in exercising and will hold you accountable. The social aspect of exercise also has benefits for emotional health.

“I don’t have anyone to watch my kids”

Solution: Exercise with family

When you take your child to soccer practice bring your walking shoes and walk around the field for an hour. Put your baby in the stroller and stroll around the block. Find an activity that you can enjoy with your children. Consider joining a recreation center that provides child care. Baby sit swap with a neighbor.

“I don’t have the money to buy a gym membership or workout gear”

Solution: Choose free activities

Walking and hiking are great free activities that only require shoes. Also, check with your local recreation center for low cost or free activity options in your community.


For additional self-improvement & relationship resources connect with me at www.drjuliehanks.com. Visit www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com to learn about my therapy clinic and individual, couple, family, & group counseling services designed to strengthen you and your family!

 

Do you have exercise excuses? How do you make the time to exercise? Comment below (email will be kept private)

 

 

Watch for my new show on The WIN

Thanks to all who “voted” to name my new podcast show launching in September. The final show title is…

The Self and Family Show

The ability to reach an international audience with my message of helping women stay strong and take good care of themselves while caring for their families is thrilling! This week I’ll be learning about all of the technical aspects of recording and hosting my own show, and the first couple of episodes should post sometime next month.

Show Host

For those of you who aren’t familiar with The Women’s Information Network please check it out. It’s an amazing online resource with advice and help from experts in so many areas…from organizing your home to forensic science, from single parenting to the latest in the entertainment world.

What is The WIN?

The Women’s Information Network (The WIN) is quickly becoming the Premier Media and Social Network for Women ~ The Online Home for All Women, All Ages.

  1. The WIN provides hundreds of free, quality audio/video shows on a wide variety of topics, organized into channels, presented by experts, and delivered in easily-accessible formats.
  2. The WIN also provides hundreds of articles, and fun ways for participants to interact with women worldwide through our Conversation Boards and interactive Webinars.
  3. The WIN will have a huge e-commerce solution, The WIN Store, and now has an informative, entertaining online television show, The WIN Show.
  4. The WIN loves to present Conferences and Retreats where women learn, laugh, and strengthen each other in powerful ways. Our offline events will help us become a massive, vibrant community of women both online and offline.
  5. The WIN is honored and delighted to help women all over the globe through our charities. Our mission is to “Strengthen Women and Families Worldwide.”

The WIN invites you to come play with us! Click here to learn how you can be part of this wonderful community of women helping women “Get Solutions, Share Ideas, and Really Connect”. We look forward to meeting you!

These two shows to strengthen marriage and family, hosted by my friends, are definitely worth listening to:

The Marital Intimacy Show

The Parental Power Show

I’d love your ideas!

Tell me what’s on your mind and I’ll turn it into a show topic. Anything relating to caring for yourself and improving your relationships is fair game. If you have specific questions you’d like me to address on the show let me know (I’ll do it anonymously).

Feel free to post your comments and ideas below (your email will not be made public) or contact me HERE.

Lose the Guilt about Hiring Household Help: Studio 5

Lose the guilt about hiring household help

Self and Relationship Expert Julie Hanks, LCSW, Owner and Director of Wasatch Family Therapy, shares tips for losing the guilt about hiring out some tasks at home or work.


Do you take on more responsibility and commitments than you can handle? Have you ever felt like you should do all of the household chores, or do you take responsibility to tie up all of the loose ends at work? Have you considered hiring out some of the tasks? Often, the thought of allowing other people to do what you believe is your responsibility can bring up feelings of guilt and inadequacy. My personal philosophy is: do what you love, figure out how to make money doing what you love, and then hire out everything else. Understand the tasks and roles in your life where you are irreplaceable and where are you replaceable, and hire out the replaceable tasks.

 

Tips to lose the guilt:

1) Think more like a man

A few years ago, when I was feeling overwhelmed at home and at work. My therapy practice was growing and I felt stretched too thin. The thought occurred to me, “What would a man do in this situation?” I decided instead of finding a part-time babysitter I would change the job description to part-time “home assistant” who would do laundry, cook, dishes, errands, or whatever else needed to be done to keep the household going on the days I worked. Thinking like a man also led me to seek out an office manager instead of trying to run the office myself.

2) Consider bartering

If you’re thinking, “I’d love to hire it out but I don’t have the money” then consider bartering with a family member, neighbor of friend. If you’re a gourmet chef but don’t like to work in the yard, find someone who doesn’t enjoy cooking but has a green thumb. You can offer to cook dinners in exchange for your friend planting your flower or vegetable garden. Start a child care co-op with other mothers with small children if you need help with child care. Get creative!

3) Shift your beliefs

Your thoughts may be perpetuating your feelings of guilt when you think about hiring out some of your tasks. Ask yourself these four questions to help you change your thinking and feel more freedom about getting additional help:

A) What situation is triggering the guilt?
B) What is my underlying belief?
C) Where does this belief come from?
D) What is healthier belief?

Here is a personal example from my own life. After I had my first child, I was still wanting to finish my education but I needed some tools to sort through the guilt relating to hiring child care:

What situation is triggering my guilt? Hiring a caregiver for my baby when I’m in class.
What is my underlying belief? I should be with my baby 24 hours a day. A good mom is always with her baby and puts her own goals on hold.
What is the origin of my belief? Cultural messages, beliefs of some family members.
What is healthier belief? I am my son’s primary caregiver, however, he will benefit from interacting with others, including his dad, grandparents, and other responsible adults.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Do you hire out any household responsibilities?

Simplify Your Day: The Art of Leaving Things Undone

Self and Relationship Expert Julie Hanks, LCSW, Owner and Director of Wasatch Family Therapy, shares tips for simplifying your day and mastering the art of leaving things undone.
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Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone. -Lin Yutang

I’m the first to admit that that I have a lot on my plate and that I like to get things done. However, I recently wrote a blog called Confessions of a Multi-tasking Mama about all of the things I don’t do  the things I leave undone. I received many emails and blog comments from women expressing relief that they are not alone in leaving things undone, and sharing their own candid œconfessions of what they leave undone. I’ve posted some of their comments at the end of this article.

TIPS FOR LEAVING THINGS UNDONE:

ACCEPT YOUR LIMITATIONS

I have surveyed hundreds of women and found that the majority of women felt guilty for all that they’re not doing (for leaving things undone). There will always be things left “undone”.

Read more

That’s what I like about me!

Wasatch Woman Magazine July 2010

Here’s today’s relationship column in the July 2010 issue of Wasatch Woman Magazine, now available as an insert in the Deseret News & Salt Lake Tribune! I’m thrilled about the opportunity to inspire even more women with my column. Here’s today’s article. Enjoy.

Watch my TV segment on this topic HERE

Read “Favorite Phrases For Relationship Confrontations” WW article  HERE.

Learn more about my therapy clinic HERE

Raising an Emotionally Healthy Child: Studio 5

Raising An Emotionally Healthy Child on KSL TV’s Studio 5

Self and Relationship Expert Julie Hanks, LCSW, Owner and Director of Wasatch Family Therapy, shares how you can become your child’s “emotion coach” and help her develop emotional health. Watch the segment online!


As a parent, I find it’s often easier to focus on my children’s physical and external needs (food, shelter, clothing, grooming, education, relationships) than on their emotional needs. As a therapist I understand the crucial role that emotions play in our lives, but when I was a new mom and my own children expressed intense emotions, it was challenging to help them work through it. I tried hard not to shame or to dismiss their emotions, but I also didn’t want their intense emotion to rule my life…or theirs. When I came across the work of Dr. John Gottman and his book Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child several years ago I remember thinking, “This fits with what I intuitively knew about parenting and it describes the parent I want to be!” It provided a framework to help me more effectively help my children understand and express emotions in healthy and productive ways.

 

Why Emotional Intelligence Matters

According to Dr. John Gottman’s research emotionally healthy, emotionally intelligent children are better able to regulate their emotions, calm their heart rate faster after being emotionally upset, had fewer infections, are better at focusing attention, have healthier peer relationships, and perform better academically. The best way to help you children achieve emotional health is to adopt an “emotion coaching” parenting style.

Dr. Gottman’s 5 Steps to Emotion Coaching:

1. Be aware of your child’s emotions

2. View emotional expression as opportunity for teaching and intimacy

3. Listen, empathize, and validate your child’s feelings

4. Label emotions in words your child understands

5. Help your child come up with solution or way to manage emotions

Recommended Parenting Books:

Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman, PhD & Joan Declaire

Parenting From The Inside Out by Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell
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Self & Relationship Expert Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW, founder and director of Wasatch Family Therapy, LLC specializes in women’s mental health therapy, marriage counseling and family therapy. Visit www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com to learn more about counseling services, workshops, & classes. Visit HERE for more relationship advice.

Join the discussion by posting comments below (your email will be kept private). I’d love to know your favorite parenting books. What do you do to raise emotionally healthy kids?

Boost Your Emotional Energy: Studio 5

Boost Your Emotional Energy

 


Do you wish that you had more energy? I do. I often look at my three year old who jumps out of bed with boundless energy, excited to face the adventure of the day, with envy. Unlike my three-year-old daughter, who has relatively few worries and concerns, I have many potential concerns that can drain emotional energy. Life transitions, grief and loss, mental or physical illness, stress, and relationship distress can all take a toll on emotional energy.

Energy is defined as a usable power source. “E”motions are “energy in motion”, propelling us to move in certain directions. More than mere physical energy; emotions provide a deeper, internal energy source. We’re talking today about how to use emotional energy as a power source and how to boost our emotional energy. According to therapist and researcher Mira Kirshenbaum, emotional energy is, “an aliveness of the mind, a happiness of the heart, and a spirit filled with hope.”

Tips for boosting your emotional energy:

Pursue your passions

What gets you excited about life? What do you look forward to? What emotionally energizes you? Dream big! Passion is a life compass, pointing you to your unique strengths and life purpose. Being involved in your passions refuels your emotional energy. When my sister Rachel Coleman’s daughter was born profoundly deaf, Rachel, along with our sister Emilie Brown, started producing Signing Time! DVDs designed to improve the communication of all children by teaching American Sign Language. Their passion is infectious and has inspired many families throughout the world.

Live on purpose

What is your life about? What is your greater purpose? How are you making a difference for others? Having a purpose greater than your own life is energizing and can even transcend physical health problems and chronic illness. A wonderful example of this purpose is the well-known actor Christopher Reeves. After being thrown off of a horse, he became quadriplegic and he dedicated the remainder of his life to advocating for research and life enhancement for individuals with spinal cord injuries.

Just say “no”

Do I want to do this? Does this feel emotionally energizing or emotionally draining? What you want matters. If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. If you find yourself doing things just to please others, to avoid guilt, or because you think you “should”, you may be unnecessarily draining your emotional reserves. Resentment is a helpful clue that you need to put “no” back into your vocabulary, and start being more selective about what you commit to. Distance from draining people

Guard your emotional reserves by being selective about who you spend time with and who you listen to. Just as joy can be contagious, negativity of others can seep into your emotional space and drain you. If you notice any of these chronic patterns, consider taking a step back and reflecting on your relationship. Complaining, blaming, belittling, gossiping, demanding, rigid rules, and excessive neediness are a few examples of draining relationship patterns.

Invest in important relationships

We are all born to connect with others. It’s necessary for our very survival. Close relationships can emotionally energize you like nothing else in the world. Prioritize the relationships that feed your soul, and take care of your intimate family relationships above all others. Take time to connect with your loved ones, and to let them know on a regular basis how much you value them.

Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow. ~Swedish Proverb

It is in the shelter of each other that people live ~ Irish Proverb

Self & Relationship Expert Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW, founder and director of Wasatch Family Therapy, LLC specializes in women’s mental health therapy, marriage counseling and family therapy. Visit www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com to learn more about counseling services, workshops, & classes. Visit www.drjuliehanks.com for more inspiration on how to let your best self shine!

What do YOU do to boost your emotional energy? Comment below (your email will not be made public) 🙂

Confessions of a Multitasking Mama

I often get asked “how do you do it all?” The answer is “I don’t”. I don’t do it all. You see the things I DO on this website, in my Facebook events and updates, newsletters, etc. You can easily find out about my therapy practice, my music career, my media appearances, speaking engagement, and my family life. I admit, I do A LOT, but I definitely don’t do it all.

Here are some of the things I DON’T do:

I don’t cook (unless you count heating up a Dream Dinner cooking). I value family dinner time but I don’t cook from scratch. I’d like to, but not enough to actually take the time to do it.

I am not the room mother. I am the assistant room mother.

I don’t attend every soccer, baseball, lacrosse, or basketball game, recital or school program. I attend “more often than not”.

I don’t make my kids breakfast before school. They have cold cereal or cinnamon toast every morning (unless its Sat. and my hubby makes waffles with ice cream).

I don’t have a clean, organized home. I generally know where to find most things, but home organization is not my strong suit. I don’t deep clean my home. I hire a cleaning crew twice a month.

I don’t feel guilty having other people help take care of our kids. I have a part-time “home assistant” who keeps things moving when my husband and I are not home, and we have an amazingly supportive family.

Even though I take a detailed list of birthday gifts my children receive every year, it is the exception that we actually send out “thank you” notes.

I don’t work in the yard on a regular basis, much to my husband’s chagrin.

I don’t sacrifice sleep. I get at least 7 hours of sleep nightly and a 3-4 hour nap on Sundays.

I don’t separate my life into categories of mother/wife/work/music. It’s all one big amazing mess called “my life” and that big category encompasses all of the people and causes and activities I’m passionate about. My life is NOT perfect, but its pretty darn good. There are many sacrifices for trying to pull off as much as I do: my house and yard aren’t spotless, I’m often tired, and sometimes feel like I’m not doing well at anything. But for me it’s worth it to have a life overflowing with wonderful opportunities to love and help others during whatever time I have on the planet. I don’t want to do it all. I just want a lot of the things I care about.

No, a girl can’t have it all but she can have A LOT.

I’d love to hear some of your confessions! Enter comments below.

Emotional Spring Cleaning: Studio 5

Emotional Spring Cleaning

The light of springtime often inspires the cleaning out of clutter in your home and yard, and exposes the cobwebs and dust bunnies that have been collecting during the winter months. It’s also a good time to consider cleaning out your emotional space: your thoughts and feelings. Just as it feels good to walk into an organized closet or enjoy a sparkling hardwood floor, emotional spring cleaning can provide a boost and a sense of relief and accomplishment. So, put down your mop and storage bins because I’ve got a different kind of spring cleaning for you. Here’s an emotional spring cleaning checklist to help you get started!

Emotional Spring Cleaning Checklist:

1. Cultivate quiet time

Ask yourself: Do I take time to reflect on my internal world? Am I able to identify how I am feeling and what I am thinking? What can I clear out of my internal home that will allow me to become a calmer, more centered person?

Plan some alone time to take an internal inventory and identify what has been cluttering your heart and mind. Meditation, prayer, hiking, and yoga are excellent examples of external acts that promote internal reflection. Spend time visualizing how you want to feel in your life and in your relationships.

2. Jot it in a journal

Ask yourself: What am I feeling and thinking? Is there anything that has been bothering me or weighing me down?

Putting pen to paper and identifying your thoughts and emotions helps clear out your emotional space, make emotions seem more manageable, and gives you a different perspective. You may not realize how cluttered your insides have become until you start articulating them. Emotions (E-motions) are “energy in motion” and they are designed to move through you, not to stay stuck in your body. Next time you feel emotionally burdened write it down. In my therapy practice, I keep a stack of small notebooks to give away to clients as “homework” assignments in which they can practice identifying and expressing thoughts and feelings.

3. Give up a grudge

Ask yourself: Am I holding on to past hurt that I’d be willing to let go of? Why am I still holding on to this resentment?

Releasing your grip on a gripe can free up emotional energy that you can then invest in other, more positive, areas of your life. I’ve heard it said that holding onto resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. While having a range of emotions is normal, including anger and hurt, letting those feelings take up permanent residence in your heart ultimately hurts you. A recent couple I worked with realized the power of giving up a grudge. The wife kept bringing up how angry she was when her husband was quiet and how he “froze” when she was upset. She was resentful and hopeless until she realized her husband’s silence stemmed from his fear of making things worse, not because he didn’t care about her.

4. Offer an apology

Ask yourself – Is there someone in my life that, when I see them, stirs up feelings or regret or awkwardness about something I’ve said or done? Do I know that I’ve made a mistake that has hurt someone that I haven’t “clean up”?

If you feel unsettled about something you’ve said or done to another person, offer a sincere apology to clear the air. Even if it was unintentional on your part, a generous and heartfelt apology can remove unnecessary discomfort inside of you and repair damaged connections with others. I can attest to the relief that comes from taking ownership of a mistake or misstep. A few months ago I spoke with a friend about a lingering misunderstanding between us and owned up to my insensitivity. Though it was a fairly minor incident, I didn’t realize until it was resolved how much space it was taking in my internal life.

5. Forgive your faults

Ask yourself: Is there something that I’ve said or done, or a trait that I don’t like about myself that seems to clutter my mind?

Often, it is easier to overlook other’s faults than it is to let go of your own shortcomings. Over time it’s easy to collect evidence for negative self-evaluations like, “I am never good enough” or “I’m always putting my foot in my mouth” or “See! I’m not good at relationships”. Dwelling on your past mistakes or clutters the present and leads to self-critical thoughts and feelings. Humans aren’t inspired to do better by criticism, and this applies to self-criticism. How freeing it is to acknowledge that you will make mistakes and have weaknesses as a human, but that it is possible to learn from personal experiences and still maintain a sense of self-acceptance. When my therapy clients are able to achieve this self-acceptance in spite of their own weakness, I call this becoming an “emotional grown-up”.

6. Tell the truth

Ask yourself: When someone asks me how I’m doing, do I say that “I’m fine” even when I’m not?

A willingness to be emotionally honest with those we love can deepen our connections and allow our loved ones to offer support and encouragement to us. Recently, a young adult therapy client discovered when she “told the truth” to her parents she not only felt relieved but it also improved her relationships with them. If you are afraid that being more emotionally honest in your relationships will hurt them, think again. Not sharing your truth for long periods of time leads to emotional build up that eventually erupts, causing further breakdowns in communication and relationship break-ups. The emotional eruption does far more damage to relationships than speaking your truth all along the way.

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Self & Relationship Expert Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW, founder and director of Wasatch Family Therapy, LLC specializes in women’s mental health therapy, marriage counseling and family therapy. Visit http://www.drjuliehanks.comfor more inspiration on how to let your best self shine!

May 2-8, 2010 is National Anxiety & Depression Awareness Week. Wasatch Family Therapy therapists are offering FREE screenings by appointment. Visit http://www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com or call (801) 944-4555 to schedule your screening.

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