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Beyond Postpartum: The Surprising Benefits of Being a Mom

Writer and mother extraordinaire, Lynn Shattuck, recently wrote a great piece for her blog reflecting on her postpartum experience. It was hugely popular because it hit home for many women. It brought back some memories for me, too. It took me a few weeks to regroup emotionally from having a baby in the middle of a dark, cold winter. In the thick of it, I was more exhausted, anxious, and vulnerable than I had ever been. In my worst moments, I worried about everything from dropping the baby, to falling down the stairs, to forgetting her altogether. Who had entrusted the care of this helpless creature to me anyway? Didn’t they know that I occasionally tripped and misplaced things?! I was worn down like all new moms. In the hardest hours, sparks of worries kept me tired and wired in     . . . read more

The Surprising Reasons You Feel the Way You Do

  This week has been all about why having a deep understanding of your emotional life is essential to your well-being and the health of your relationships. Today, I will concede that this can be difficult work. I’ve argued before that emotions are information, but decoding the clues they provide sometimes takes a master sleuth. Did you know that chronic emotional states like anxiety, depression, numbness, anger, or irritability can actually be a way to cope? Many people first come to therapy because they want to decrease these emotions. However, this can be tricky for some people because these states developed as a way to cope with even more painful emotions. For example, if you witnessed a tragedy or violence, you may develop chronic anxiety to cope with terror and powerlessness. The mind wants to feel in control, so you     . . . read more

From Surviving to Thriving

Last weekend I went to a fantastic concert, right here in Portland. Enjoying the music, I realized I was not just hearing it, but feeling it as well. There were thirteen musicians on stage, so there was a lot to watch. I felt more deeply relaxed than I had in quite some time. I felt alert but calm, my body let go of tension. My mind was focused and engaged. It seemed like an optimal state of being. Needless to say, it was highly enjoyable. This experience got me thinking about the fantastic piece, from our guest writer last week as part of the New Perspectives Series on this blog. He explains how he was able to use an evolutionary perspective to make life changes that helped improve his mental health. His perspective is that if we consider the types of foods,     . . . read more

Looking Way (Way) Back: An Evolutionary Perspective for Modern Mental Health

  Note from Hannah: This the first in a series of guest posts with the goal of providing new perspectives to mental health, wellness, and being a human. This piece was bravely shared by our guest writer, David.  My brain is broken, I thought to myself, as I sat in a plush, brown leather chair in my psychiatrist’s office; the perfect cliché- in an old brick building in downtown Portland, Maine. I stared, vacantly, through a large bay window, the sun’s rays cast upon my face, warming my skin through the white sheer curtains. Being a few stories up, I gazed at a slightly veiled view of  the modest skyline of the city I grew up in, amidst the backdrop of sparkling ocean and blue sky. The view made it easy to transport myself elsewhere, in avoidance of what I     . . . read more

There is No Failure

I believe that failure is an unhelpful concept. I’m not even convinced it’s a real thing. In my mind, it belongs in the category of make-believe creatures along with unicorns, dragons, and the Easter Bunny. Recently, Seth Godin (marketing genius and writer whose lessons surprisingly generalize to many areas of life), made a very wise point in his post, Just the good parts. He feels that when you hit bumps in the road, like a bad break or rejection, “It means that you’re doing worthwhile, difficult work, not merely amusing yourself.” I would add to this and assert that you can’t have success without so-called failure. In my assessment, there is no way to “fail.” Life is not graded. You can’t get an F. There is showing up and participating, making choices, being accountable, and doing our best. Or there     . . . read more

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