Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Put the Happy Back in the Holidays

The holidays are a very busy time for so many of us. There are family gatherings, events, shopping, many of which are based on tradition or expectations. Sometimes with all of the running from one thing to the next and the long to-do lists we lose sight of what we truly value or enjoy in the holiday season.
So this holiday season I am going to challenge you to reevaluate where you invest your time to determine what’s really valuable to you. A good question to ask yourself is “does this fill me up?” or “does this bring me joy?”. Sometimes we find ourselves doing things because they are expected of us or this is the way we have always done it, but does it fill you up? If not, stop doing it. If running to 3 different family gatherings in one day to celebrate feels more like a race or a chore than a celebration then stop doing it. Plan family gatherings that are spaced out over several weekends so the pace is slower and you can actually have time to connect with those family members. If getting up at 4am and cooking a 5 course meal is exhausting and does not bring you joy, stop doing it. Consider picking up a turkey and sides from a local grocery store or going out to eat.
What all of this comes down to is determining what you value most about the holidays and finding ways to focus on that and eliminating barriers that get in the way. If spending time with family is what you value but spending the whole day cooking and doing dishes gets in the way of that, stop cooking and doing dishes, find alternatives. Just because you have always done it that way doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it that way. If gift buying and giving creates a financial strain and takes away from the occasion, stop doing it. Find alternatives such as making homemade gifts from supplies you already have or decide to do an activity together as a family. I know a family who gives verbal gifts. They gather around and instead of opening gifts they share things they love about each other or ways that the people in their lives have filled them up that year. Discard the traditions and expectations that working for you anymore and make new ones!

Make the holidays about what fills you up. What brings you joy? 

 Kaitlyn Gitter is a Licensed Professional Counselor who strives to help people find inner peace and healing.  She provides client centered counseling services to children, adolescents, families, couples, and adults.  She values the human connection and creating a safe space for exploration, learning, and growth.  Kaitlyn obtained her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from The Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, IL. She has extensive experience working with individuals struggling with eating disorders, self-esteem, and body image issues. She also has a particular passion for working with adolescents and young adults. Other areas of interest include grief and loss, anxiety, depression, ADHD, behavior issues, parent/child relationships, and family systems.

Kaitlyn utilizes several therapeutic approaches but specializes in Internal Family Systems Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She often incorporates relaxation and mindfulness techniques into sessions. In her work with children she frequently integrates play therapy and artistic expression to encourage healthy emotion regulation and communication.  In her free time Kaitlyn enjoys running, traveling, camping, and gardening. Kaitlyn believes that happiness is something you create and every individual has the power to make positive change in their life. She is here as a partner on your path to creating happiness and peace.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Wellness Wednesday: November 1, 2017

50 Ideas for Your Personal Self-Care Plan

These days, it seems like everyone wants something from us. As a graduate student, I’m constantly trying to figure out how to balance school, two jobs, an internship, and having a dog, all while maintaining my relationships with friends, family, and my partner. There is never enough time, enough energy, or enough organization to finish everything I want to get done in a day. Sometimes, the stress and chaos gives my mind the opportunity to trick me into thinking that “not doing enough” is the same as “not being enough.” It can be hard, but I know that isn’t true, and I can see that once I give myself the opportunity to step back, take a deep breath, and refill my proverbial glass.

There are all sorts of things you can do for yourself to refill your glass. The internet is full of them. Sometimes, all of the options can seem just as overwhelming as not doing anything at all. So, to start, here are a few tips for creating a plan that works for you:

       Write it down!
Whatever you choose, write it down. It not only helps you remember, but it keeps you accountable.
       Trust yourself
You know yourself best, so when looking at a list of possibilities, choose the ones that you think could really help. Be honest with yourself.
       Be brave
At the same time, don’t limit yourself to things you already do or do well. Try something new, and be open to things that might not have worked so well for you in the past. People change, and so do the things we like!

So, now that we’ve covered the basics, here are 50 ideas for things you could add to your own plan! Some are more habitual, others are for when you need a quick pick-me-up! I have collected them from various internet sources as well as from my personal experience.

1.    Pick one thing that you need to do and get it done so it’s off your mental “to do” list.
2.    Get a manicure or pedicure.
3.    Get a massage.
4.    Find a therapist.
5.    Get a book from the library (free) or bookstore about some topic you’ve been interested in, but have never taken the time to learn. Afterward, spend a few minutes each day learning about it.
6.    In the morning, listen to music that inspires and motivates you.
7.    Write a list of things you’re grateful to have in your life and post it somewhere you can see it often. We have a tendency to focus on the negative, so remind yourself of the good stuff.
8.    Go through your closet and purge the clothes you haven’t worn in years. Donate them to a charitable organization.
9.    If you bring your lunch to work, pack a few extra items to share with someone less fortunate on your way or during your lunch break.
10. Share a kind smile with strangers on your way to and from work. Some people may go all day without anyone acknowledging their existence.
11. Start a cycle of encouragement. Tell someone near you what you appreciate about them. They may return the favor when you need it most.
12. If you buy your morning coffee, skip it today and donate the money to a charity of your choosing.
13. Call your mom, dad, or any other family member you care about just to say hi.
14. Learn how to sew. Self-sufficiency may have some other mental health benefits for you as well.
15. Send a completely random care package to someone you love. Who doesn’t love a surprise?
16. Try out a form of martial arts. A lot of schools offer a free lesson.
17. Take a moment at the end of each day and consciously list a few good things in your life. This can help refocus your emotions on all the positive things that happen each day, even when it doesn’t seem like it.
18. Turn off your phone and step away from the computer for a whole day.
19. Take a few minutes and enjoy a funny animal video on YouTube.
20. Go for a walk by yourself with headphones on, listening to music you love.
21. Prepare a meal, no matter how simple.
22. Create something for no practical purpose such as a song, a poem, an essay, a painting, a drawing, a comic strip, a collage, etc.
23. Lay on the floor on your back with your eyes closed for five minutes (or longer) and just breathe.
24. Shower with all the lights off. It forces you to move incredibly slow and it’s so relaxing. Make sure to have safety mats in place so you don’t slip on your way out.
25. Stare at your pet or another animal and seriously contemplate their existence. Do you think they believe they have a higher purpose?
26. Rearrange all of your furniture in a way that makes you more comfortable or just to try something fresh in your living space.
27. Check in with yourself a few times each day and take a moment to process your thoughts and emotions. Don’t let them build up.
28. Swing on a swing set. Too many adults forget how much fun this is.
29. Call your friend or sibling when you know they can’t answer and leave a ridiculously funny made up song as your voicemail. You’ll spread a little laughter while also laughing in the process.
30. Make up a brand new dance move and teach it to someone.
31. Do a five minute meditation on your feet.
32. Carve a couple hours out of your schedule this weekend to enjoy a classic film.
33. Go out to see a movie at your favorite theater all by yourself.
34. Make a piece of artwork—draw, paint, cut and paste, whatever—that someone might interpret as ugly and tell it you love and accept it anyway.
35. Watch RuPaul’s Drag Race and bask in the charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent of the contestants. Try to channel some of that in your own life when you find yourself needing it.
36. Go to a support group meeting.
37. Listen to a podcast about something that interests you that you haven’t yet explored.
38. Roll out a blanket and eat your dinner on the grass at home or in the park. Invite someone else if you’d like company.
39. Make yourself a gourmet grilled cheese and some tomato soup. Comfort food at the right time or during the right type of weather can be great for boosting your mood.
40. Tell yourself something that resists self-criticism but feels encouraging like, “I’m doing the best that I can.”
41. Taking care of yourself can start with something small! Maybe today you just need to lie down on the couch instead of on your bed for a change of scenery.
42. Write something encouraging on a post-it and put it where you will see it every day! Or write directly on your mirror: “I am beautiful and brave.”
43. Say a magnificent affirmation out loud, like “I am a child of the universe, and I have been given endless talents and capabilities.”
44. Commit to posting mostly or only positive things on your favored social media site for a while. For every sad news item, there’s a related (or unrelated) story of resilience, bravery, and triumph.
45. Write a review of a business you like. Send that positive energy into the universe and share some love for your favorite local places!
46. Read a book that’s easy and fun. You can give it away to a younger person in your life after if you feel like giving it up.
47. Listen to an album you loved when you were younger but haven’t heard in a long time.
48. Congratulate yourself for doing difficult things, even if they might not seem difficult to others. Depending on the individual, plenty of everyday things can be difficult, like riding the bus, standing in line, filing paperwork, going to the doctor, making food, doing chores, etc.
49. Wash your face. Sometimes the simplest hygiene tasks can be the most refreshing.
50. Reflect on the struggles your ancestors endured so you could exist and remember that you have inherited their strength and resilience.
What do you think of these ideas? Share your results and any tips you have learned in your own wellness journey in the comments or on our Facebook page!
Nicki Phillips is a counseling intern at Esprit and a graduate student at UW Oshkosh working towards a degree in clinical mental health counseling. She brings a fresh perspective to her work along with a vibrant personality. She believes everyone is inherently worthy of respect and compassion, and strives to create those qualities in her relationships with clients. She sees clients who are uninsured, underinsured, have a high deductible, or prefer to pay out-of-pocket for a reduced cost. She particularly enjoys working with adolescents and young adults, and has also worked with children (ages 5 and up) and adults. She has immediate openings for new clients! Please schedule online at She can also be reached via email at or by phone at (920) 383-1287.