Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Getting Through the Day

The parents in our class at the Parent-Child Center at Seattle Central Community College brainstormed all the things we do to care for ourselves and survive the day. While some suggestions might not work for childless adults (e.g. trading childcare), some ideas might hold water even if you don't care for children (e.g. plan ahead for dinner, get enough sleep).

Here is the list compiled by the parents in our class:

*Make a spread sheet for you and your partner about responsibilities
*Give your partner clear messages about your needs
*Have a cup of tea
*Get enough sleep
*Have books, puzzles for downtime
*Be organized, think ahead
*Make the kids' lunches the night before
*Have structured activities for the kids
*Find an activity your child can do alone (e.g. listen to music)
*Have nutritious food
*Plan ahead for dinner
*Go to the coffee shop
*Get out of the house
*Trade child care
*Take a nap
*Pick one thing to get done during nap
*Take time for yourself during nap
*Trade with partner to go out
*Have time together after child's bed time
*Cocktails at 7 PM
*Kid-friendly happy hour in pubs
*Go to the park or play gym

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Feeling Confident and Competent: A Possible Antidote to Anxiety

Anxiety often has more influence in particular settings in our lives, less so in others. For some, family life is fraught with anxiety. For others, anxiety has its strongest pull while at work, school, or just being alone. If you find that anxiety speaks to you less loudly in certain spheres than others, it may be because some practices of competence and confidence help keep anxiety at bay in those settings. A former client of mine found that he experienced anxiety less acutely at work, where he felt confident and competent in his job, and less so at home where his family demeaned him for experiencing severe anxiety. My client worked with chronically ill patients who could sympathize with him about living with a debilitating affliction that often comes on without warning. At work he felt valued for the service he provided, was given positive feedback about his performance, and was offered some breathing room when he wasn't feeling at his best.

His home life was a very different story, with a lot of dismissiveness, negativity, and a sense that he should just "get over" the anxiety. At home he learned to remind himself of all the ways he was confident and competent in other areas of life, and though he couldn't control what family members might say, he could be his "own safe harbor" in his mind when their negativity would start to get to him.

In our own lives we can find areas where we feel a great sense of confidence and competence, and remind ourselves of those successes when dealing with other areas of life where anxiety speaks more loudly.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Seattle Midwifery School Seeks Pregnant Panelists

Here's a message from the Seattle Midwifery School about an upcoming pregnancy panelist opportunity:

Pregnant in Seattle? SMS is seeking pregnant women in their third trimester to be panelists for our popular Labor Support Course. It’s a lot of fun and a great chance to help aspiring doulas learn about the emotions of pregnancy. We need panelists for Saturday March 8 from 1:00 to 1:45 pm. Honorarium offered. Contact or call Annie Kennedy at 206.322.8834 x115 for more information.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Einstein's Endorsement of Therapy

Albert Einstein said insanity is trying the same thing again and again and expecting a different outcome, or some such thing like that. Similarly, we often use the same ineffective strategies for dealing with problems because we simply don't know what else to try. We get caught in thinking that because something has always been this way, that it will always remain the same.

Getting stuck in our thinking happens to everyone from time to time. Getting unstuck often requires getting a different perspective on the problem. When we're too close to a problem, we need the perspective of someone outside the problem to help us see a new strategy for dealing with it.

A common misconception is that therapy is only for "crazy" people. Therapy, however, is essentially the offering of new ways of looking at familiar problems. We all run into difficulties that we can't see our way out of. When we can't envision a solution, this doesn't make us insane; it makes us human. Helping us see new ways of looking at familiar problems and taking action to solve them is the basis of good therapy.

Being stuck and not doing anything about it--that's crazy. Enlisting another's ideas for solving the problem, to drastically paraphrase Einstein, just makes good, "sane" sense.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

New Resource for Postpartum Dads

Postnatal depression can affect both mothers and fathers, as this new Web site points out. helps men identify signs of depression and lets them know they are not alone. Please spread the word to postpartum dads about this important resource.

Monday, February 4, 2008

What a Little Daylight Can Do

We've made over the hump: the darkest days of winter are behind us. But for those of us in the northern neck of the woods, there's still not a lot of sunlight out there. To get your daily shot of Vitamin D, try to get out for 30 minutes between noon and two--even on a cloudy day. Run your errands, take a walk, or just do laps around your office building. A little daylight can help re-boot your system--physically and mentally. And spring is not that far off either. Think: sun!