Is Shame Holding You Back? You are worthy.

heather edwards shameLet’s go alternate reality. Yes, AR. What’s your biggest wish for this year? Five years from now? Or for your lifetime? Tap into the full experience of that image. Be the hero in your own game. One where you make the rules. You tell the story. You determine the outcome.

What’s there? Who’s there? Smell the scents, see the colors, connect to the people, hear the sounds, engage with your surroundings. Notice the energy that fills you up. Close your eyes. Lock it in.

Wait. Did I hear the voice of self doubt? Disbelief? Uncertainty? It’s okay. It’s what we do. Notice it and dismiss it. Shift your focus to what you want. The nasty little self critic gremlin works hard at sabotaging your dreams. It’s his job. In some contexts it’s what keeps you alive. It notices danger and warns you. But sometimes it’s nothing more than insecurity and a sense of unworthiness holding you back in the form of shame.

When the gremlin rears his ugly little head, you stop. You get scared and small. You start replaying the mental tape of negative messages you’ve heard throughout your lifetime. After all, they prove the critic is right. Wrong!

Those sabotaging statements from your family, the mean boss, or the bully on the playground have no merit. They no longer call the shots. You do. The next time you feel stifled, small, or unworthy do this…heather edwards worthy

1. Practice an attitude of gratitude. Identify three things you are grateful for today. Meditate on each of them for 30 seconds. You’ll strengthen the neural pathways responsible for happiness and wellbeing. To boot, Brene Brown’s research has identified gratitude as the antidote to shame and unworthiness.

2. Stretch. Take up space. Literally reach for the sky. BKS Iyengar (the father of Iyengar Yoga) believed that raising your arms above your head stimulates the lymphatic system which builds immunity and can improve mood and coping. Other studies have shown that it increases testosterone production and reduces cortisol (a stress hormone), creating a calm confident feeling.

3. Give yourself a hug. When you place your hand on your heart, you signal the body to release calming hormones. It’s comforting and grounding. Like other pressure points on the body, it shifts your energy from being uncomfortable to being more relaxed and fluid. Pair it with a deep breath and mantra like, “It will be okay.” and you’ll feel like a million bucks again.

This is just the start of managing uncomfortable feelings. Get to the root of what’s keeping you stuck. The only way out of it is through it. When you turn toward them, acknowledge them, and replace them with healthy thoughts and behaviors you narrate the story. For a more in depth exploration, call a mental health professional. Be the hero in your reality.heather edwards counseling psychotherapy

Psychology Today: 5 Steps to Happiness

Heather Edwards Happiness

Psychology Today – Mark Banschick, MD. Article By Guest Blogger, Heather Edwards Reclaiming Happiness

Guest blogger Heather Edwards has a five important tips that’ll help you align with your heart’s desires.

The quest for health and happiness today seems like an uphill battle. Each day, the  issues gracing our headlines challenge the equilibrium of our hearts and soul. The politicsof the moment burdens our psyche. Many worry about jobs, paying for college or for rent; and the world continues to show its openness to violence, depressing our sense of peace, love, and hope for a better tomorrow.

We’re further misaligned by our own personal demons. Whether it’s illness, relationships, or finances, each of us has a complexity of individual struggles.

At times, it’s overwhelming.

Reclaiming Happiness:

Let’s go back to base camp. Hit the reset button.

Clear your mind of the negativity that surrounds you. Refocus. Try these five basic acts of goodness for your body and mind to revisit the quest for health and happiness in the short and long term…

  1. Honor your body. When you need rest, rest. When you need hydration, hydrate. When you need movement, move. Ignoring your basic physical needs leads to illness overtime. Sleep cleanses the neural pathways in your brain. Water cleanses your blood stream of toxins. Healthy meals provide essential nutrients to your organs, muscles, and bones that keep them strong. Don’t skip meals because you’re too busy.
  2. Surround yourself with people who lift you up. Healthy relationships support healthy lives. You need to feel supported, loved, and connected to those around you. Get inspired. People who dream, aspire, and grow help you do the same. Shed the toxic relationships in your life. They will inadvertently kill you through negativity and stress.
  3. Focus on gratitude. Noticing what you already have creates a sense of peace in your life. When you stay focused on the positive, you naturally shape your entire outlook toward the good around you. The way you think affects the way you feel. The way you feel affects the way to behave. The way you behave affects your character. So who and how do you want to be?
  4. Get out into nature. There is evidence that staring at a tree reduces anxiety. It takes you out of your head and into the moment. Nature is awe inspiring. That’s an expansive, open, gracious experience. Go to the beach, look at a flower, google pictures of a mountain. It’s calming and can reset your mindset.
  5. Mindfulness = Heartfulness. Be truly present. In Chinese, heart and mind are the same word – xin. It is believed that if we are functioning with an open mind, we are also functioning from the heart. When you let go of opinions, wants, and judgments you experience freedom. Approach each moment with curiosity, openness, and generosity. Accept the reality of what is, instead of fighting against what you already know to be true. Just be.

These actions won’t directly change the circumstances of your life, but they will change your relationship to them. Just a moment of peace, love, and joy each day cumulatively strengthens your body and psyche. In the end, it makes a healthy heart and mind. And that makes the world a better place for everyone.

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Heather Edwards, MA, LMHC, is a therapist and life coach located in New York City. She can be reached for consultation at: 347-515-3966

www.NewYorkPsychotherapyandLifeCoaching.com

Follow me on Twitterhttps://twitter.com/nyctherapy

Thanks Giving: Donate your coats

thanks givingLast Saturday, my husband and I were outside enjoying a 70 degree afternoon among the crisp fallen leaves of autumn. It was magical. The warm, full sun cast dancing shadows on the ground through the trees. Acorns, a light cool breeze, and the fresh scent of earth filled our consciousness. It hardly felt like a November afternoon. We were visiting family for an early Thanks Giving.

Eight hours later, the wind picked up, the temperature dropped 30 degrees, and sleet began to fall. We were hardly prepared for this dramatic change. We were away for the weekend and he didn’t have a coat. I only had warm-weather shoes and no socks! It was a stark reminder of the brute strength of winter.

It called my attention to those in need. “On a single night in January 2015, 564,708 people were experiencing homelessness nationally — meaning they were sleeping outside or in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program.”, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.  New York Cares reports that today more than 60,000 New Yorkers spend their nights in shelters, and 25,000 of of those individuals are children. 

I’m thankful to have a roof over my head and a warm winter coat. It’s a luxury that not everyone experiences every night. I am truly grateful.

Since living in NYC, I’m confronted by the harsh reality of homelessness the moment I step outside. There are two men and a woman who have become regulars in the park next door. While we sleep comfortably in our beds, they sleep on wooden benches, covering themselves with blankets and plastic, or nothing at all, no matter the weather.thanks and giving

Due to this, and inspiration from my generous and loving late mother-in-law, it’s with a heavy and hopeful heart that I am sponsoring a Thanks Giving coat drive with Oasis Day Spa through New York Cares beginning November 28 to December 10, 2016. It’s a small gesture that can make a significant difference in the lives of our neighbors who could die without it.

Our goal was 25 coats, – but since we’ve almost reached it before the actual start date through social media – we’ve increased our goal to 50 coats. New York Cares reported record numbers of donations this year just in time for the blizzard in January, “Collecting 100,000 coats enabled us (NY Cares) to distribute coats earlier in the new year, delivering 70,000 coats before a blizzard hit NYC in January 2016.” Let’s do it again! Express your thanks through giving.

This kindness not only helps the less fortunate but it helps you, the giver. Positive psychology proves that acts of kindness improve our sense of well-being and life satisfaction. It’s one of the seven habits of happy people.  Martin Seligman demonstrated through his research at UPenn that people who help others through charity, volunteering, or simply assisting a neighbor or coworker with a task experience greater happiness. Others suggest that lowered depression and longer life expectancy occur as a result of giving.

thanks givingSo, warm your heart and spirit by increasing the positive emotions, safety, and well-being of others. If you’re local to NYC, drop off your new or lightly used coats at my office – Heather Edwards Mental Health Counseling, 1 Park Avenue, Inside Oasis Day Spa, New York, NY 10016. If you’re outside New York City and want to help, contact your local charity to give to those in need.

From the bottom of my heart, I’m wishing you and those you love a happy, warm, & healthy Thanksgiving!

Until next time,

Heather xo

What Makes You Come Alive? Find Your Flow

flow heather edwards

I recently gave a speech at New York Toastmasters. The attendees were moved and asked me to post it online. It’s about integrating Mindfulness & Positive Psychology into your everyday life…. See the YouTube video here…

What makes you come alive? I mean really alive. When you feel the flow of energy moving in your body. When there’s excitement on a visceral level and a calling of your attention to a particular person, place, or activity.

It’s thrilling, calming, and you’re in love with the moment. Nothing else matters. Call it passion, finding your flow, or just plain fun.

Let’s go with flow. Let’s take a ride together.  Let’s explore wellness, the universe, and gratitude.

Flow heals you from the inside out. It reduces the stress hormone, cortisol. It increases serotonin, which helps regulate mood, memory, sleep, & body temperature.

It can reduce pain and inflammation. It increases energy and a sense of being mentally awake and capable.

It helps to improve relationships by developing shared, meaningful bonds with others. It makes you healthy, strong, and really alive!

When you experience flow, you’re free. You’re immersed in an activity, and feeling like you’re exactly where you’re meant to be…

There’s a lightness, completeness, and connection with someone or something outside yourself that transports you to a new place.

It’s an alignment of sorts. An experience of awe, wonder, and curiosity.  

You’re no longer in your head. You’re fully present in this moment – right here, right now, at the intersection of this time and place.

There is a novelty and oneness with the intricacies of the moment. One foot is planted firmly in the safe and familiar, and the other dips freely into the unknown, exploring uncertainty, & tempting vulnerability… You’re stretching.

Your senses are attuned. You can feel the warmth of the sun on your face and the weightlessness of the wind in your hair. You absorb the fresh life-giving oxygen of the flowers, trees, and mother earth with each breath. You’re awake, aware, alive! It’s sublime.

You feel connected to beauty & a wider purpose. You seem insignificant and immensely integral to this beautiful tapestry of life. You’re uniquely distinct from it and one with it, at the same time.

When you pan out to the universe and observe yourself in this world, the one that we know, you’re tiny, invisible even. Yet, without your presence here many things would be different. In that sense, You’re huge in this life to those around you. It’s all about perspective.

What connects you to something larger than yourself?

Whether it’s a country road & the low rumble of my Harley, the crispness of the glittering snow beneath my skis, or the thump of each excited foot step exploring unchartered territory, it reminds me of the preciousness of every breath.

The stillness of my meditation within the frenzied activity of New York City amplifies and soothes the chaos of everyday life.

It calls my attention to the details of everything around me – shapes, colors scents, sounds, textures, people & my interaction with them.

I notice the lull of the crashing waves in Fire Island, the grandeur of the NYC forrest of buildings, & the gentle smile on my husband’s face behind his handlebar mustache. It makes me grateful.

Gratitude and meditation have all the health benefits of flow plus developing regions of your brain responsible for kindness, compassion, & peace.

It creates a complete and total presence. It’s transcendent. It’s time passing without your knowing it.

Eleanor Roosevelt said – “Do one thing everyday that scares you.” Try to live by that, at least once in awhile.

It makes you grow. It is living authentically to your fullest potential. It’s not merely surviving, it’s thriving at the pinnacle of existence.

When it both excites and frightens you, you need to pursue it. This is your life history in the making.

What excites you? What will you pursue?

Passion. FUN. Flow. Inspiration. Losing track of time. Getting lost in a person, place, or activity that awakens and nourishes you keeps you alive.

The latest research proves that flow develops healthy brain activity, supports learning and memory, and increases your overall health & resilience in the face of stress.

Laugh. Shout. Whisper. Love. Be. Here. Now. Live like you’re still alive!

I’ve taken you on this journey to inspire you to find the thing that connects you to your flow. Your life depends on it.

I’ll ask you again – what makes you come alive? Go do it.

At the Table (Podcast)! With Nutrition Expert Jessi Haggerty

heather edwards nutritionNutrition experts, Allison and Jessi invited me to join the conversation, “At the Table with Allison and Jessi.”

At the Table is the love child of two nutrition experts who want to help others improve their relationship with food by making eating a sacred and enjoyable experience again.

Allison is a Holistic Nutrition Counselor and blogger behindwww.friskylemon.com. She specializes in empowering people to heal their digestion by creating their personalized healing diet based in the Paleo Diet framework.

Jessi is a Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer who provides an excitingly educational, deliciously nutritious, and slightly sarcastic sustainable approach to food and wellness. To boot, she’s my amazing cousin! You can find Jessi on www.jessihaggerty.com

In this episode of At the Table, we discuss everything from mindfulness and positive psychology to a milkshake-a-day diet I followed as a teenager, and our Mastermind group!

Find out about how Jessi and I find our flow by getting lost in our favorite activity.

There’s a secret and goofy holiday mix up revealed, too that will get you rolling with laughter at the chaos we call family. The one rule in Fire Island is bantered about.

Jessi asks me questions like, “What’s your favorite food memory?”, “What was your relationship to food like growing up?”, and “If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?”.

It all ties into health, wellness, and being the best version of yourself. You’ll find that it’s light, fun, and entertaining! Kick back in your comfy chair and listen to a conversation about food and wellbeing that’s exciting, educational, and inspiring.

Stop reading and check it out here!  Please let me know what you think about it and if you’d like more posts like these… audio blogs, podcasts, and videos.  See you at the table!