Healthy Lifestyle

Are You Too Un-Needy?

blog unneedyDo you regularly find yourself overwhelmed and exhausted? Does it feel like your responsibilities are never done and that you never have time for yourself? If so, you might have come to play the role of “needless” - one without needs!

When you are not aware of your needs, or aren’t comfortable asking for those needs to be met, you can easily take on too much. Focusing on other people’s needs without considering your own will leave you living an unbalanced life.

While being too needy isn’t the goal, neither is being needless. To live a balanced life it is important that we learn how to both give and take in relationships. Let’s look at this dynamic and challenge any unhealthy beliefs we have about welcoming our own needs.



Why You May Struggle

As babies we are all very needy! We make our needs known without hesitation - often through our cries. But as we grow, we gain more and more control over our emotions and the way we display our needs. This is a good thing, however at times it can go too far.

As children grow society puts a lot of pressure on them to be "good boys" and "good girls." There is a large focus of conforming in many schools and families. Children are praised for helping others and not causing trouble. While there are obvious benefits to this behavior, in some cases it can create "people pleasing" tendencies that can become out of balanced. If children get the message that their needs are too much or will not be met, sometimes they simply turn them off. Of course this is not really possible, so those needs and the emotions that accompany them just get pushed down. When we do this for long enough, we can become “needless”.

Another way that people may develop a pattern of ignoring their needs is by growing up in a home where there needs aren't tended to enough. In his book, “Healing Your Lost Inner Child”, author Robert says this “often originates from an emotionally unavailable household in which the child eventually stops asking for their needs to be met.”. He explains that, “by ignoring their needs in adulthood, such an individual does not have to face the painful reality that their basic needs were not met in childhood.”

Needless people tend to be very good at seeing other people’s needs, but are not able to ask or give themselves what is necessary to have an emotionally fulfilling life themselves.



A Balanced Life

“Somehow we’ve come to equate success with not needing anyone. Many of us are willing to extend a helping hand, but we’re very reluctant to reach out for help when we need it ourselves. It’s as if we’ve divided the world into ‘those who offer help’ and ‘those who need help.’ The truth is that we are both.” - Brene Brown 

I love this reminder from author and researcher Brene Brown. Our success is not tied to fierce independence. In fact, we can live a more fulfilling and successful life if we embrace our need for interdependence.

Simply put interdependence is a relationship between two or more living things that benefit from each other. It recognizes that together we are stronger than alone, and a connected life is more fulfilling than an isolated one.



Accepting Help

For people who struggle accepting their needs, reaching out for help can feel wrong or threatening. But something powerful takes place when we allow ourselves to receive from another person.

It’s not only that this encourages us to more realistically accept our limits - because needless people have a strong ability to push through their limits. It’s that accepting help creates a connection unlike that of independence.

It feels good to give when you are in a healthy relationship. But it’s important to remember that the other person wants to give to you as well. When we shut ourselves off from receiving, we block the other person from the opportunity to give.



Starting Small

When you first make this shift in perspective, it may still feel difficult to accept help from others. That's okay, just start small. If you aren’t ready to ask for help, start by accepting help when it is offered. 

As you begin by accepting small acts of kindness, you will get used to receiving. Then you can begin asking for help with little things that aren’t a lot to ask. Eventually you will be able to start asking people for the things you really need.

 

 

How difficult is it for you to ask for what you need? Do you consider yourself “needless”? What can you do today to start shifting your perspective? 

Healthy relationships have both give and take. The interdependence that comes from it is a gift that brings a greater level of connection than fierce independence ever will!

Dr. Jamie


 

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

blog thanksgiving weekWe at DuPage Family Wellness would like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving week! 

There are many things that typically make Thanksgiving special - time with loved ones, tasty food, and the focus on gratitude!

I don't know that any of us will have a traditional Thanksgiving experience this year, but the one thing we can do is choose to embrace gratitude. After all it is the one day of the year that our culture encourages us to pause and reflect on all we have.

There are so many benefits to developing a gratitude practice that I wanted to share our gratitude blogs with you once more.

I think you'll be surprised at how much we have to be grateful for even in the craziest of times!

 

Dr. Jamie


 

A Shocking Discovery

blog a shocking discoveryDo you ever have trouble sitting with your own thoughts?

Perhaps you go through most of your day at a fast pace... rushing out the door to run an errand on the way to work, or picking the kids up only to rush home and make dinner before running to another activity. ⁠

If so, you are not alone. We live in a fast-paced society and rarely take time to sit with our own thoughts. As a result, you may have lost the ability to simply be present, sitting with your own thoughts with ease. ⁠

Let's explore this issue and discover ways we can become accustomed to being in the present once again.

 

Shocking Research

Studies done by researchers looked at this issue by asking people to be alone with their thoughts for 15 minutes. Participants were given the option to give themselves an electric shock if they didn’t want to simply be alone with their thoughts for the full time. ⁠

The results were truly unbelievable! A full 30% of men and 60% of women chose to give themselves an electric shock, rather than being alone with their thoughts. ⁠

It is interesting that anyone would rather experience the pain of a shock rather than sitting with their own thoughts, but it is not completely surprising. As a society we do not value stillness and presence, instead honoring productivity and accomplishment. For many people this culture of striving results in great discomfort when they have time to simply be. 

 

What You Can Do Today⁠

If you are someone that has little time for sitting with their own thoughts, you may find it beneficial to intentionally develop your ability to simply be. But with all the busyness surrounding you, what can you do to give yourself a little time alone with your thoughts today? 

To begin with, start small. You don’t need to go to an hour long meditation or yoga class three times a week. Simply sit in your car for a couple minutes after doing your grocery shopping or dropping the kids off at an activity. During this time settle your heart and focus on your breath. 

When your mind begins to wander, just notice it and bring it back to your breath in a non-judgmental way. It is normal to have to bring your mind back to the present quite frequently when you begin this practice, the key is to simply refocus without getting caught up in frustration.

 

Use Your Senses

Your senses are other great tools to bring you back into the present. The following exercise takes just a few minutes and can be done just about anywhere.

Start by getting in a comfortable position either sitting in a chair with your feet flat on the ground or lying down if you aren’t too tired. Then take a few refreshing deep breaths. Now tune in to your senses. What are 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell, and one thing you can taste?

 

Using Guided Visualizations

Some people find guided visualizations extremely helpful in helping them focus when they are first trying to develop this type of practice. Kristen Neff is a mindfulness expert who focuses on self-compassion. 

Her guided meditations are available free online. Each exercise lasts between 5-25 minutes and can be done in the privacy of your home. It is a great place to start if you struggle to stay present in the moment.

 

Developing a Mindfulness Practice

As you develop your skills to be present in the moment, you are actually developing a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness had been found to lower stress, anxiety, and depression. Becoming more mindful can even help you respond more appropriately in stressful situations. 

There are so many ways to develop your own mindfulness practice. It is truly just intentionally bringing your attention to what is happening in the moment without judgement. Even just a few moments of purposefully being in the moment can make a difference. There is no right or wrong way to do it as long as it’s approached with openness and grace.



Perhaps the only time you have to yourself is when you are in the bathroom or going to bed. If so, try giving yourself a few minutes alone with your thoughts while you are lying in bed or taking a shower.⁠

These little moments will become a gift that you can look forward to giving yourself throughout the day!⁠

Dr. Jamie


 

An Easy Way to Improve Your Sleep

blog easy way improve sleepBetween work, activities, and family, life can feel pretty overwhelming. You may feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, so there simply isn’t time to get a good night’s sleep. But sleep is one of the most fundamental functions we do each day. Without good sleep you will not only feel terrible, but you will begin to damage your body.

Without proper sleep you will likely notice a difference in your energy, mood, and ability to function. And if you consistently wake up from a full night's sleep feeling less than refreshed, you may be dealing with undiagnosed sleep issues.

There is an easy way to check for such a sleep issue that you can do in the privacy of your own home. This simple test costs next to nothing and only takes a few extra seconds at night. Let’s look at what the experts say about this test and how to use the results to train your body to sleep well again!

 

What We Are Looking For

According to Dr. Mark Burhenne sleep apnea is the “lack of the ability to breathe properly at night to the point where your sleep is interrupted.” While most people are aware of severe sleep apnea, Burhenne explains that mild forms are often left undiagnosed especially in otherwise healthy individuals.

Oftentimes a dentist is able to see early warning signs of sleep apnea through features in the mouth. These early signs include gum recession, tooth sensitivity, TMJ, dry mouth, morning headaches, chipped teeth, and nighttime clenching or grinding.

All of these signs can be attributed to the inability to consistently breathe through your nose rather than your mouth.

 

A Simple Test

Discovering if you are a mouth or nose breather at night is the first step. But how do you know what you are doing while you are asleep if there is no one watching you throughout the night? The easiest way is to use some special mouth tape to gently tape your mouth shut at night. 

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Halloween (and Thanksgiving and Christmas OH MY)!

blog halloween 2020Are you a parent that has decided to skip Halloween this year? Or do you feel trick-or-treating is one of the few normal fall activities that can be done safely? 

Whatever decision you’ve made, a great deal of thought probably went into your choice as you may feel especially nervous about your family’s health this year. It makes sense that you would have these concerns as we are in the midst of a pandemic, and the start of the dreaded flu season will soon be upon us soon! 

Many people go through the flu season each year just hoping that their family will stay healthy, and this year the stakes seem even higher. But what if you could reframe your perspective and take back some of the power over you and your loved ones' health? 

Let’s begin by reconsidering “flu season.” By understanding some of the underlying causes of the season, you can begin making the best choices for yourself (and your family).



The Flu Season Myth

It is true that there are more cases of the flu diagnosed during December and February, but germs for the flu are around all year. If these germs are always around, why do we see an increase in the number of flu cases during the fall and winter months?

I really like the way that Dr. Angie Elliot explains this phenomenon in her article “There’s No Such Thing As ‘Flu Season’.”

“Think for a moment about what would happen if you planted a seed in the ground. You covered it with soil, didn’t water it, offer it sun, or supply it with air. Would the seed grow? NO! Why not?

 

The answer is that the condition of the soil was not ideal for the seed to take root and for the plant to flourish. Now, consider your body equivalent to soil and a virus or bacteria as the seed. If you planted that seed in your body right now, could it grow? 

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A Word to the Wise as Cooler Days Approach

blog vit d word to wiseAs the season changes you may notice a difference in your mood, your energy, and even your outlook on life. You may wonder why it’s harder to get out of bed in the morning, why it’s a struggle to be patient with your loved ones, or why you are beginning to rely on that second (or fifth) cup of coffee to make it through your day!

While there are many factors that impact these changes, lack of sun exposure throughout the winter months may be one of them. One of the main reasons that sunlight affects your well-being so much is the direct impact sunlight has on your Vitamin D levels. Let’s take a look at how this happens and the impact it has on the body!

 

Sun Exposure & Vitamin D

When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it causes your body to synthesize cholesterol into Vitamin D. It takes time for your system to create and absorb adequate levels of  Vitamin D. 

Generally speaking a large amount of your skin must be exposed to the sun for at least 30 minutes each day for you to create optimal levels of Vitamin D. During the cooler months it is especially difficult to receive enough sun exposure for this to occur. 

While your diet can contribute to your level of Vitamin D, we were genetically designed to receive our Vitamin D from exposure to the sun.  If you live in the Midwest you are likely not getting enough sunlight to produce optimal levels of Vitamin D, especially during the cooler months.

 

What it Means for You

Nearly all the cells in our bodies have Vitamin D receptors, so our bodies can not function properly when we are deficient. 

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