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4 posts from May 2011


Self-Care Tips for You

This post is by White Picket Fence Counseling Center therapist Janet McCurdy.
Most of us feel the effects of daily stressors, overbooked calendars, work and home responsibilities, and too little sleep. When we experience stress, our muscles tense, our heart rate increases, and our breathing speeds up and becomes more shallow. Remaining in a state of stress can lead to feelings of irritability, depression and being "burned out," and can contribute to other health problems.
During these busy times, taking care of ourselves requires effort, planning and a commitment to our own health and wellness.
Each time we fly, we are reminded during the safety demonstration to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first before helping others around us. Good advice. When we take care of ourselves, we are happier and healthier, and better versions of ourselves at home, at work and in the community.
Learning to relax and quiet our minds for just a few minutes each day is an essential part of healthy self-care. We are all different, so how we relax will be individual to each of us. A walk outdoors, a hot bath or shower, a few minutes alone in a quiet room, listening to music, reading a good book, or practicing yoga are a few ideas of ways in which we can reduce our stress and take care of ourselves.
Learning where we hold tension in our bodies and how to let it go can also have a positive effect on managing the stressors that we face each day. Guided relaxation CDs and MP3 files can be very helpful in leading us through the steps to full-body relaxation. The University of Michigan offers several relaxation audio files on their MHealthy website at:
Try a couple and see if they are useful to you.
By regularly planning time for ourselves, we are demonstrating our commitment to our personal health and wellness. Self-care is a gift we deserve to receive every day. Be good to yourself. Take care of yourself.


Where to learn more about Co-Dependency and Boundaries

Self Test for You

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to see whether your “helping” behavior may actually be co-dependency:
  1. Do you have a hard time saying no to others, even when you are very busy, financially struggling, or completely exhausted?
  2. Are you always sacrificing your own needs for everyone else?
  3. Do you feel more worthy as a human being because you have taken on a helping role?
  4. If you stopped helping your friends, would you feel guilty or worthless?
  5. Would you know how to be in a friendship that doesn’t revolve around you being the “helper”?
  6. If your friends eventually didn’t need your help, would you still be friends with them? Or would you look around for someone else to help?
  7. Do you feel resentful when others are not grateful enough to you for your efforts at rescuing them or fixing their lives?
  8. Do you sometimes feel like more of a social worker than a friend in your relationships?
  9. Do you feel uncomfortable receiving help from other people? Is the role of helping others a much more natural role for you to play in your relationships?
  10. Does it seem as if many of your friends have particularly chaotic lives, with one crisis after another?
  11. Did you grow up in a family that had a lot of emotional chaos or addiction problems?
  12. Are many of your friends addicts, or do they have serious emotional and social problems?
  13. As you were growing up, did you think it was up to you to keep the family functioning?
  14. As an adult, is it important for you to be thought of as the “dependable one”?
If you answered “yes” to a lot of these questions, you may indeed have a problem with co-dependency. This does not mean that you are a flawed person. It means that you are spending a lot of energy on other people and very little on yourself. If it seems that a lot of your friendships are based on co-dependent rescuing behaviors, rather than on mutual liking and respect between equals, you may wish to step back and rethink your role in relationships.If you suspect that your helping behavior is a form of co-dependency, a good therapist or counselor can help you gain perspective on your actions and learn a more balanced way of relating to others.

Here is a list of books and resources about co-dependency and boundaries:

Co-dependent No More by Melanie Beattie
Co-dependent No More Workbook by Melanie Beattie
Co-dependents Guide to the Twelve Steps by Melanie Beattie
The New Codependency by Melanie Beattie
Language of Letting Go by Melanie Beattie
Where to Draw the Line by Anne Katherine, M.A.
Boundaries by Anne Katherine, M.A.
Codependence and the Power of Detachment by Karen Casey
Co-Dependence by Ann Wilson Schaef
Transforming the Co-Dependent Woman by Sandy Bierig

Internet Resources­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­:­
Co-Dependents Anonymous
Al-Anon Family Groups

Are you interested in coming to a workshop in June about Co-dependency and Boundaries? If so, get special e-flyer sent to you in advance so you can register early!  Contact me by email or call our office.


Putting Yourself First – Really?

Self-care is a common theme in our therapy sessions with clients dealing with eating disorders and food addiction. We often encourage them to put themselves first and take better care of themselves.
We understand that you have responsibilities to care for the other people in your life, but it's our job as therapists to remind you that you won't have anything to give if you neglect to take care of yourself. That's why later this month, Janet McCurdy will share some helpful self-care suggestions for you.
Putting yourself first, though – really? Maybe it's a lot to ask. And maybe that's why people don't do it. Here are a few other reasons that you may tend to put others first:
  • Helping other people gives you a warm fuzzy feeling – and this may be the only time you feel that.
  • It seems selfish to do things for yourself.
  • This is how you learned to be, from the adults who influenced you as a child.
  • You're concerned that no one else will do it, or they won't do it as well.
  • It's scary to let go of control.
  • It's a defense mechanism against thinking about or working on your own problems.
Perhaps you need to try to put yourself side-by-side with your loved ones, and take care of yourself and them equally. Maybe balance is the key. After all, it's not an either/or scenario – you or them. Can you consider doing as much for yourself as you do for others?
Can you put as much care into feeding yourself as you to do when feeding your family?
Can you block off the time to book your own medical appointments – and get yourself there – the same as you would if someone else asked you?

If putting yourself first seems like too big of a step, at least make sure your self-care is getting equal attention.


You are so much more than your food issues

We’ve been talking this month about parts – how we're all individuals who are part of bigger community groups, and how we each have parts of ourselves that drive our feelings, actions and choices.
When you enter therapy for an eating disorder, your therapist can help you separate your food issues from your other parts. You are not your disorder – you are so much more. When that part of you starts talking, maybe telling you to overeat or restrict, you can learn to recognize that as something you can choose to respond to in a healthy way.
One of the things I appreciate most about the "parts" approach to therapy, and particularly the IFS method, is the focus on self-compassion and curiosity as you get to know yourself – and all of your parts. If you'd like to explore this idea with a therapist, please contact us.