When Romance Dies: 7 Steps to Bounce Back

Heather Edwards RomanceSomeone yanked the carpet out from under you. You’re flabbergasted, broken-hearted, and wondering if you’ll ever love again.  You thought this was the one. It’s hard to imagine life without him. You were already thinking about next steps – marriage and children. What will you tell your friends and family? What will they think of you? Where did you go wrong?

Your mind races as the tears flow. It hurts. Yet, as much as you wanted it to work, it wasn’t a perfect relationship anyway. In fact, there’s no perfect relationship. But, what now?

  1. Allow yourself to cry. The loss of a relationship – even if YOU did the breaking up – is a loss. It can feel like a mini grief cycle. Your feelings will fluctuate between disbelief, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance. Ride the wave. It will pass.
  2. Get rid of his belongings. Return them. Burn them. Sell them. Hide them from yourself. If you want to move on, you need to limit the reminders.
  3. Let go of your ego. There might be some embarrassment lurking in the shadows of your grief. It’s normal to consider the perception of others but, when it keeps you stuck in negative feelings or non-action, it only hurts you more. You were brave enough to love. You are strong enough to rise above the judgements. Heather Edwards Romance
  4. 4. Consider what you learned. Every relationship is an opportunity to be your best self and notice when you’re not. When you reflect on the break up, fill in this blank statement, “This experience is good because _______.”.
  5. Reach out to friends and family. We are social creatures. Studies show that stress hormones are reduced and calming hormones are stimulated when we touch one another. Ask for a hug. Allow those who love you to support you.
  6. Make YOURSELF a priority. Self care restores wellness, resilience, and inner strength. Talk to your therapist, get a massage, go for a hike, pet an animal, do lunch with a friend, eat healthy, paint your nails, listen to music, write in your gratitude journal.
  7. Quiet your inner critic. When your inner monologue is ripping you to shreds, deliberately change those self abusive thoughts to self encouraging ones. Focus on what you want to believe. Say them to yourself in the third person. Breathe. Trust them.

Heather Edwards RomanceHealing from a broken heart takes time. Honor yourself. Beware of destructive behaviors like drinking too much or jumping into another relationship before you’re ready – even if it’s just a hook up.

Sit. Write. Talk. Draw. Listen. Walk. Read. Paint. Cry. Work through the feelings. It will make you stronger, wiser, and more confident. When you face the pain and acknowledge your grief, the dark shadows fade away and new possibilities emerge. Your wholehearted self will again be open, authentic, vulnerable and loved.

Jumpstart Productivity: 7 Tips to Get on Track

productivityThose long lazy days filled with sunlight and flowers are nearing an end. Dawn and dusk last a bit longer as the sun’s angle lowers in the sky. Shadows dance through the trees upon the breeze while the air cools, just a touch. As the gardens wilt and turn to seed, shorts and tee shirts no longer comfort you. Instead, you reach for sweaters and pants each morning and enjoy the crisp new season. You begin looking forward to what autumn brings – change, purpose, and productivity.  While summer will be missed, you know it will come again. It’s bittersweet but the time is nigh to look ahead and plan for your most abundant fall and winter.

Here are a few tips to get started on making the new season a fruitful one.

  1. Establish a routine. The power of routine is immeasurable. Once you’ve created an order in your life that allows your brain to focus on higher level or creative pursuits, the mundane and trivial activities of everyday life become almost unconscious. This allows your mental effort to be applied to what you really want to accomplish, rather than getting bogged down in the details.
  2. Create accountability. Verbalize your goals with people around you to create an external source of responsibility to them. It’s motivating to answer publicly to your proclamations. Set clear boundaries and expectations for what you want. Use timers, calendars, and a daily schedule to keep on track.
  3. Clear your mind. Meditation is the most effective way of creating peace, clarity, and focus in your life. It can happen in just 20 minutes per day. It physically changes your brain structure to allow better coping with stress. Madonna, Clint Eastwood, Lady Gaga, Howard Stern, Katy Perry, and the list goes on… practice meditation to create a sense of calm groundedness amidst the chaos of a busy life.
  4. Just say, “no”.  This is an undervalued skill that makes life more manageable. How often have you overcommitted? When you’re frantically striving to complete many tasks, your quality of work is reduced. When you focus on only a few projects that are really important to you, your quality of work skyrockets. Practice the art of graciously declining invitations. It’s better for outcomes, relationships, and your health.
  5. Get some shut eye. The research into sleep is exploding. Recent studies are finding that sleep allows your brain to encode (save/remember) information, organize information, and cleanse itself of toxins. It not only allows your mind and body to rest, it can improve learning and memory, performance, and mood.
  6. Fuel your machine. Would you drive your car on an empty tank of gas, or expect your cell phone to ring when the battery is depleted? How could you expect peak performance from yourself without the proper fuel? Reduce your consumption of alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes, and other vices. Increase consumption of lean meats, leafy greens, fruits, fatty fish, and nuts. They provide nutrients that reduce depression, increase energy, promote healthy brain function, heart health, and immunity. The benefits of eating right are endless.
  7. Burn it off. Exercise increases feel-good chemicals such as endorphins, norepinephrine, and dopamine. It lowers stress related hormones like cortisol & adrenaline. Combined, these improve energy and balance emotions. Getting sweaty develops brain regions responsible for memory and learning, improves your overall physique, and can boost your self esteem. Commit to regular exercise.

productivityWhile the long, lazy days of summer are coming to a close, a new season of growth and opportunity beckons. Go with the flow, stay in the present moment, maintain your focus. When you implement these tips, you will improve your life. Start small. Begin with one change that will get you closer to the way you want to experience life. Make it a habit. Reap the benefits.

 

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo
1st Photo courtesy of free digital photos.net. by David Castillo Dominici.

Anxiety & Panic are Ruining My Life

Heather Edwards anxiety

“I feel like I can’t breathe.” “My chest is tightening.” “I’m afraid I’m going to faint or die.”

You might be wondering if you’re having a heart attack, or other medical crisis. It’s uncomfortable, even frightening.

You don’t know what to do or how to make it stop. It seems unpredictable. You feel helpless. You’re avoiding certain social situations, or even leaving your home because of it.

Anxiety & panic are ruining your life.

The paradox is that the more you focus on it, the more you feed it.  And the more you fight it and avoid it, the  more you feed it.  

So what exactly is happening? And what can you do about it?

I’ll start by defining anxiety and panic, providing some statistics about each, and offering a few strategies for managing them.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by persistent unrealistic…

  • worry & unease
  • fatigue
  • difficulty concentrating
  • mind going blank
  • irritability
  • muscle tension
  • difficulty sleeping

It’s typically accompanied by an elevated heart rate and central nervous system activation sometimes triggering your fight or flight response.

It affects 6.8 million adults in any given year, or 3.1% of the U.S. population. Women are twice as likely as men to be affected.

Heather Edwards AnxietyPanic Disorder, it’s mischievous twin, is characterized by all the same symptoms plus…

  • sweating
  • trembling
  • sensations of smothering or choking
  • chest pain
  • dizziness
  • chills
  • numbness
  • abdominal distress
  • feelings of unreality
  • fear of “going crazy” or dying

About six million American adults experience panic disorder in a given year. It typically develops in early adulthood. Women are twice as likely as men to experience it.

Over time, your central nervous system develops patterns, or habits that become harder to change because of chemical and neural networks that are self-reinforcing that anxiety & panic cycle. The only way to alter the way your body responds to stress without medication, is through awareness, non-judgement, and conscious intentional action.

Here’s what you can do…

  1. Start by Identifying a trigger. When you consider the times and places you experience the symptoms, notice the common threads. Is there a typical scenario, person, or place where you get triggered? Often, there is an element of uncertainty or unpredictability in the situation. 
  2. Intervene early with a calm awareness of your trigger before the symptoms are full blown. Be prepared to talk yourself down, engage your wise mind, use strategies like breath work, positive reframing, and self validation to calm and soothe the thoughts that lead to anxiety and panic.
  3. What did you say to yourself about the trigger? This is a basic cognitive therapy tool. Our thoughts affect our feelings, physiological responses, and behavioral reactions. Except in the case of life or death circumstance, situations in-and-of themselves don’t cause our reactions, our thoughts about them do. Notice your internal monologue and adjust it. Remind yourself of all the times you’ve experienced this and survived it.
  4. When there isn’t an easily identifiable trigger, there could be a subconscious negative belief coloring your experience. At your core, what do you truly believe about yourself? When you fill in the statement, “I am ___”. What words come to mind? What is the tone of that self statement? If you started with,“I am unworthy.”.  Can you change it to, “I am equally important.”?  If your belief is, “ I am helpless.”.  Can you change it to, “I am strong and capable of setting boundaries.”? Through noticing and reframing your automatic thoughts, you can begin to reclaim your life.
  5. Heather Edwards AnxietyOngoing positive self care is essential to your health and wellbeing. 
  • Eat balanced meals. They provide nutrients that improve mood and energy.
  • Exercise regularly (at least 3-4 times/week). It reduces stress hormones.
  • Get adequate sleep (for most adults 7-8 hour/night). This is when your brain cleanses itself of toxins.
  • Practice mindfulness through meditation, yoga, or walking. It develops the regions of your brain responsible for peace, calm, and compassion.
  • Maintain healthy relationships. We are a social species. We need people in our lives to feel connected and loved.
  • Indulge in inspiring activities where you get lost in the flow. This takes you outside of your head and into the moment.

CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) are effective treatments for changing this anxiety and panic cycle. Both address the underlying belief system, often based in traumatic experiences, that are linked to your current distress.

In summary, through awareness, information, and massive action you can reclaim your life: You CAN feel better. Anxiety and Panic do not have to be a life sentence.

In the words of Rumi, “Remember, the entrance to the sanctuary is inside you.”

 

 

Photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by stockimages, ambro, & nenetus.

Where is Your Relationship Headed? What’s your love ratio?

Heather Edwards Relationship Oasis

Let’s begin with a simple checklist for a healthy relationship. How many of these exist in your love life?

  • acceptance
  • empathy
  • respect
  • honesty
  • compassion
  • compatibility
  • trust
  • understanding
  • vulnerability
  • safety
  • consideration
  • compromise
  • communication
  • shared vision and values
  • passion
  • play

Yes, life gets in the way sometimes. Take time out to nurture your love. There are evidence based ways to build healthy, lasting relationships. Here are a few of them….

Dream together. Create personal rituals of connection. Honor each other. Speak AND listen. Ask open ended questions. Be curious. Remain calm during disagreement & conflict. Own your feelings.  Take responsibility when it’s yours. Take steps to deepen your friendship and intimacy. Validate each other.

Watch out for the pitfalls that ruin relationships. If any these sound familiar, it’s time to make adjustments.

  • blame
  • criticism
  • belittling
  • stonewalling
  • contempt
  • defensiveness
  • withholding
  • avoidance
  • violence

Don’t fret. It’s not too late. As long as both parties are committed to make changes that benefit themselves, each other, and the relationship, it can work out! When you share a dream of better days ahead together, you can strengthen, rebuild, and rediscover your love.

Don’t wait. Time is of the essence. If you’re curious about how sustainable your relationship is, here’s an easy tally of it’s health… According to John Gottman, healthy relationships have 5 positive interactions to every 1 negative one. He refers to it as the 5 to 1 Ratio. It’s scientifically predicted whether or not relationships last. What is your ratio?

If the scales are tipped on the negative side and you want to turn it around, practice positivity toward your partner. Refer to the first list in this blog and put those into action. If you need professional help, seek it out.

“Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears. ‘After all this time?’. ‘Always,’ said Snape.” -J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

 

photo of couple courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by Sarge Bertasius Photography

Oasis Week: 15% Off Services; October 12 – 16, 2015

Heather Edwards Oasis Day Spa

Heather Edwards Oasis Day Spa

Do you need a rejuvenation session?

Come see me for a couples reconnection session or individual mindfulness session in Oasis Day Spa, One Park Avenue, New York, NY 10016 during Oasis Week!

New Clients Save 15% Off ALL Services.

Check out Oasis services like, Massages, and Body Scrubs & Wraps.

Book a spa service or a Psychotherapy service and receive 15% off for Oasis Week!

October 12 – 16, 2015; Monday Through Friday

Call Oasis to book your Spa & Therapy session 212-254-7722

Questions? Call Heather Edwards at 347-515-3966

In the Couples Reconnection Session, validate and leverage your strengths as a couple. Rekindle the aspects of your relationship that drew you together and keep your bond strong. Together, shift your attention to the love, desire, and soulful foundation of your connection.

In the Individual Reconnection Session, practice mindfulness through a personal exploration of your mind-body experience. Validate and leverage your strengths as an individual, clarify your purpose, and soothe your inner emotional responses to the many challenges of life.

Heather Edwards Oasis Day Spa

Heather Edwards, LMHC, NCC, BCC, Psychotherapy and Coaching is located in our Manhattan location, named “Best of New York” by New York Magazine. We’re located on exclusive Park Avenue in the heart of New York City – it is a perfect getaway without having to leave the city and an ideal destination to entertain business clients, host a bridal shower, or celebrate any special moment.

Hours of Operation

Monday-Saturday, 9AM-9PM

Sunday, 9AM-8PM

Address & Directions

1 Park Avenue New York, NY 10016

Phone: 212-254-7722 Fax: 212-686-4355

Subway: 6 train, 33rd St. stop Bus: M1, M2, and M3

Got Jealousy?  How to stop the downward spiral.

jealousy pictureWhen in the presence of someone taller, richer, smarter, thinner, younger, prettier, or anything else-er… jealousy has the opportunity to rear its ugly head.  Let’s face it, we can’t be all things all the time.  That would be downright boring anyway.  But what about those feelings of insecurity, self doubt, and low self worth that emerge when our defenses are low?  Let’s break them down into their composite parts and root causes.  As a Therapist and Coach, it helps to dissect emotion, its triggers, and resulting behaviors. So let’s begin with a few related outcomes…

Insecurity:

When we listen too closely to our inner critic, we naturally feel insecure and unsure of ourselves. It’s uncomfortable and can stifle us from taking risks, stepping outside our comfort zone, and stretching toward new levels of achievement.  What to do?  Challenge it!  It’s healthy to check yourself, but if you’re obsessing about mistakes made or are fearful of acting on the wrong decision, it’s time to consider other possible explanations and ideas about yourself and the task at hand.  Acknowledge your negative self talk and substitute that critical gremlin’s loud mouth with statements of encouragement and wisdom. Open your mind to best case scenario and successful endings to the story.

“The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.” – Erich Fromm

Comparison:

When we compare ourselves to others, we are setting ourselves up for a fall.  It’s a mean trick our brains play on us.  Typically we notice the strengths of others while honing in on our own shortcomings.  When you compare the two – someone’s strengths against your blind spots and challenges – you naturally end up with unfair comparisons and a recipe for discouragement.   An example of this is, “Her hair is so pretty, I bet all the guys like her.  I’m overweight and miserable in my job.”  Say ‘hello’ to the metaphorical apples and oranges argument!  Stop and question the assumptions you make.  Catch the unfair comparisons in action.  You never really know the details of someone else’s life story and therefore, comparing it to yours is fruitless (pun intended!).

Remember the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Self Worth:

When insecurity and unfair comparisons combine, the result is low self worth.   This can be disastrous to your mental health, relationships, and personal growth.  Take a step back.  Get off the couch.  Realize your potential and the possibilities.  If you’re feeling lonely, expand your friend group.  If you’re feeling incompetent, expand your skills and expertise. If you’re feeling unfulfilled, choose an activity or interest to explore.  Identify one goal you can and will accomplish this week to get one step closer self improvement. Take a class or join a meet-up group.  It will improve your quality of life – and your self worth.  Don’t capitulate to the unwanted negative feelings.  They will loose their strength and influence when you take your power back.

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” – Mark Twain

Take-Home Message:  peaceful yoga girl

You are in control of your thoughts and feelings.  Jealousy is a product of the way you think about the events of life.  When you feel the pang of insecurity, low self worth, or jealousy, pause and practice gratitude.  Switch your attention to three things you are thankful for right now, in this moment.  I’ll share mine for today – the warm weather, my family, and my cats.  Now what are yours?

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” – Cicero

“1st Image courtesy of anankkml/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

“2nd Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.