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JReisingerGuest Segment...
Staying Mindfully Healthy in the New Year 

Now is the time of year when we often start doubting ourselves as we look over our shoulder and see our New Year’s resolutions slipping away.  Our thinking has us believing that we can put aside our resolutions and accept our alternative choices… most of which are focused on others instead of on ourselves.  

Yes!  Many of you are finding yourselves making choices to put others’ in priority over yourself.  You have stopped being kind to yourself, haven’t you? 

  • Do you put your employer’s needs before your own?
  • Do you put your children’s needs before your own?
  • Do you put your spouse’s needs before your own?
  • Do you put parent’s needs before your own?
  • Do you put your best friend’s needs before your own? 

 If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, it may be time for a “Re-boot”.  

One way to “Re-boot”and get back to a healthier you is to take an assessment of what is getting in your way.  Almost always, you will find that you said “yes” to something or someone that you felt seriously needed your input or your help in order for things to go smoothly for that other situation or that other person.  When in fact, saying “yes” to too many things creates a sense of overwhelm-ness and frustration at yourself and at others.  When you reach this point, you have disrespected yourself and left yourself in a position of growing bitter and tired and feeling anxious or depressed.  

In order to get back to a healthier state of mind, try re-focusing, or “Re-booting” on what you enjoy and what gives you a feeling of joy and satisfaction. The goal of course is to love yourself first so that you can love the others who are important in your life. 

One simple way to start a “Re-boot” today: 
  1. Make a list of what you truly enjoy doing (these are things that fill your heart with feelings of love and nurturing)
  2. Next to each item, write one or two things that are barriers or people who are barriers
  3. Now, focus on just one of the items from #1 above and make a conscious choice about how to remove at least one barrier from #2 above. Maybe it will be choosing to watch one less hour of t.v. this week and spending that one hour with your child reading a book or working through homework; or asking your spouse to pick up the groceries this week and during your normal grocery shopping time, you hit the gym for a relaxing yoga class; or choosing to read a good novel for a 1/2 hour before bed tonight instead of "creeping" on Facebook for an hour.

 It’s as simple as that, replace one barrier with something that focuses you on loving yourself! 

We often think of the color PINK in the month of February.  Pink is often associated with unconditional love and nurturing. When you chose to “Re-boot” in February, make it a “Re-boot” to love yourself first.   

 ~  Joni Reisinger, MS Ed., PLMHP, Guest Columnist

Kristen Headshot CroppedGuest Segment...
Keeping a Healthy Emotional Heart 

Quick: What do you think of when you heart the phrase “healthy heart?” I bet it has to do with cholesterol, or exercise, or eating right. You certainly wouldn’t be wrong, especially in regards to physical health. But what about that other heart—your emotional center? There are many, many qualities that we can cultivate to maintain a healthy emotional heart, so let’s focus on just a few basics for now: Kindness, patience, and letting others in. 

Kindness is a surprisingly tricky concept—we sometimes get it confused with being nice, but there’s also a dash of honesty in kind acts. Being kind can mean giving someone something they need, as opposed to simply what they want. As a new counselor, I sometimes struggle with being nice vs. being kind. It looks a little like this: Do I go with a client’s desire to maintain the status quo once they leave my care at the hospital, or do I help them explore better ways to get help for long-standing issues? Simply put, being kind can be difficult at times because honesty can be difficult. Being kind to yourself can be difficult for the same reason—it can hurt to be honest with ourselves! 

Patience also helps maintain a healthy heart. Just like kindness, we can practice patience with ourselves and each other. Some people naturally have vast reserves of patience while others can hardly sit through a red light; most of us fall somewhere between. To cultivate more patience, pay attention to what triggers your impatience, and brainstorm ways to distract yourself or wait it out. For example, if traffic really riles you up, you may decide to keep a book on CD in your car for just such an occasion (a distraction) or you may decide to practice your deep breathing as you inch along (waiting it out). Increasing your patience can help decrease your stress levels overall and help you become better able to handle those small bumps in the road. 

When I say letting others in, I don’t exactly mean trusting others or becoming vulnerable (although those can be important in maintaining a healthy heart, too). It’s something broader. Letting others in is seeing the people around you and recognizing their humanity, that others have dignity and worth. It also means noticing the small acts of humanity others extend to you, like a smile, an empathetic glance, a door held open. It’s a difficult quality to maintain—how often do you close yourself to these small acts when you’re in a bad mood? Most of us have uttered the phrase “I hate people” at least once. In short, letting others in requires a shift in perspective from “Me vs. the world” to “Me AND the world.” Letting others in helps us keep an open heart, a positive spirit, and keeps us connected to the world at large. When you think about improving heart health, remember your emotional health!

~ Kristen Eckhardt, MS Ed, Guest Columnist

Sandstrom Judy

Tips from our EAP...
Giving Couples Counseling a Try (Part 1 of 3)

Over 50% of marriages in this country end in divorce. Second marriages have a higher likelihood of failure. Could couples counseling (marriage counseling) help you beat the odds when the going gets tough? Couples counseling can improve your relationship and communication, and maybe get you back on the road to a happier future.

If you are seriously concerned about your relationship and wonder if it needs help, chances are it does. Research has shown that couples often wait many years after they first notice problems before seeking couples counseling. This makes couples counseling less likely to be effective, and it can take longer. Long-term resentment can sabotage couples counseling because the desire to have your relationship work is a key to success. So the earlier you make a decision to seek couples counseling the better. 

In the next two editions of our newsletter, we will take a look at what you can expect in couples counseling, common problems, and options if your spouse will not attend with you. Stay tuned!

~ Judy Sandstrom, EAP Coordinator
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