February 14, 2017
A wonderful relationship is our biggest asset!
We are better stress managers when we are in love.
We are more creative at problem solving when we are in love.
We feel better when we are in love.
We are happier when we are in love.
We are more resilient when we are in love.
We are healthier when we are love.
Every aspect of life is better when we have someone to share it with!
Research supports this common sentiment.
But when we look around--how many couples do we see who are thriving?
How many couples have a passion and a friendship which improves, rather than fades witht the passing of time?
The common answer I recieve is..."not many."
However, a thriving love is possible! We all know an older couple who still has a sparkle in their eyes for each other after 50 years. So what is their secret? What does these incredible couples do and know that 90% of the population isn't?
If you look at information in the areas of neuroscience and modern psychology, the answer becomes clear. Here are just a few skills and concepts essential to a happy life together:
Self-regulation, not communication, is the most fundamental component to a happy relationship.
A mutual life list puts us on the same trajectory.
Mental strength is essential to creating highs and weathering lows.
A secure attachment helps our love age well with increasing intimacy over time.
Using emotion, whether positive or negative, as a motivator towards productive action is a key to daily happiness.
Dr. Heap has published her first book and it is available on Amazon! THRIVE! Together for Life empowers couples with the knowledge and skills needed in all these areas of research so that couples can spiral upward in their relationship and foster the love we all desire.
Make everyday Valentines Day by investing in your relationship! This book can be used by individual couples or get a group of couples together and have a dinner club discussion over a chapter once a month!
February 01, 2016
I wake up in the morning and immediately reach for my phone, check my email, Instagram, and Facebook. Finally looking at the clock and realizing this has already put me behind schedule, I jump out of bed, pull on some clothes, and grab some breakfast to go. I get to work and am already annoyed from the traffic and the terrible driver who cut me off on the highway. I get report on my patients, and finally sit down to take a moment to breathe and gather myself before beginning my shift. But before I take 2 breaths I receive a text from my friend asking about my plans this weekend. Which reminds me to check my work schedule. Which prompts me to get on my work email. Finally I look at my patients’ charts, organize my day, and rush off to begin the many tasks on my checklist. This is all before 8 am. Many times this whirlwind continues until I finally lay down in bed at night, and I realize that I haven’t taken a single moment to slow down, think, and take in the present moment and what is happening around me.
Does this daysound familiar? How often do days pass without slowing down before you look back and wonder where the time has gone? How often are you actually living in the present moment? We tend to fast forward through the present moment to “better” moments in the future, whether that be the upcoming weekend, our next vacation, etc. The problem is, once those “better” moments arrive, we are left unsatisfied and unfulfilled because they don’t live up to the expectations our minds anticipated. Today we are constantly being pulled in 1 million directions at any given time, which makes it difficult to take time each day away from work, away from social media, away from our phones. Time to just be.
Mindfulness means “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment,” according to psychologist Jon Kabat-Zinn. It is “presence of heart.” According to Dr. Daniel Siegel, we must not only be present from moment to moment, but have a true understanding of our thoughts and feelings, and the ability to change and modify them. When we have this awareness and control over our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, we gain:
• Insight into what we want, how we feel, and what we think
• Ability to deal with our emotions and fears in a productive way
• Flexibility in our moment to moment reactions
• Empathy and intuition in reading others
• Moral awareness of how our actions impact the world around us
• Greater ability to cope with stress
• Decreased anxiety
• Improved focus, attention, and memory
Research has also shown that practicing mindfulness is beneficial to your physical health. People who meditate regularly are more likely to exercise, sleep better, make healthier eating choices, have lower blood pressure, and have a stronger immune system to fight off illness.
But how do we gain this mindfulness in our lives when most of our days go as I described above? Luckily, there are a few easy exercises we can do to develop focused attention, insight into ourselves, and empathy.
1. Awareness of Breath Exercise—sit or lie in a comfortable position. Breathe in for 3 seconds, hold your breath for 2 seconds, and exhale for 4 seconds. Focus only on your breath. Dismiss any distractions and redirect your mind back to your breathing. Mindful breathing has been shown to decrease stress, anger, and anxiety. It also increases focus and concentration in your daily tasks, and helps you to stay in the “present” rather than constantly being distracted by the past and future.
2. Expressive Writing—writing about an emotional challenge can be much more beneficial than ruminating over it. It gives us a chance to step back and clearly evaluate the situation, rather than become entangled in our thoughts and emotions. Research has shown that writing about your experiences makes them more manageable, and can boost feelings of happiness and wellbeing, reduce depression and anxiety, and increase performance at work and school.
3. Active Listening—How often are we talking with another person, but the whole time we are thinking of the next thing we are going to say? Active listening is key to good communication. Invite someone to talk with you for 10 minutes about what is on their mind. Be a better listener by paraphrasing, asking questions, using engaged body language, taking turns talking, and avoiding giving advice. Learning to actively listen has been show to prevent miscommunication and improve relationships.
Mindfulness is about being awake. About paying attention to our lives in a systematic way in order to come to a deeper knowledge of who we are and who we want to be. When we gain this self-knowledge, we are empowered with the ability to transform our lives!
November 24, 2015
For the week of Thanksgiving, try these strategies to ramp up your gratitude and increase your happiness!
Three Good Things Practice
For five to ten minutes a day (if you are having a bad one, then do this over lunch), think and write about three good things that have happened over the last 24 hours. “A 2005 study led by Martin Seligman, founder of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, found that completing this exercise every day for one week led to increases in happiness that persisted for six months.”
November 06, 2015
By: Krista Bunker, RN
Every year when January 1st rolls around, as I’m trying to recover from the last year (aka NYE), I decide to join the bandwagon and come up with a handful of New Year’s Resolutions. Every year without fail, about seven to eight months in (probably more like 7 to 8 weeks if I am being honest) I typically can’t remember my resolutions or have not made active steps towards achieving them. I hope I’m not alone in this struggle, because it’s real.
Well, sure enough New Years is just around the corner again, and while I have made some progress on a few of my resolutions, many are left untouched, written in my journal with no check mark of success next to it. This has me thinking; what is it exactly that is holding me back from accomplishing my resolutions and attaining my goals?
Just as my type B personality makes accomplishing even the simplest tasks difficult in my everyday life, the personality of goals and your approach toward them play a huge part in actually achieving them. Here are six reasons you haven’t checked off that New Year’s resolution, and ways how to change it so you can!
March 03, 2015
When you hear the word HORMONES! Is your attitude TGIF (thank God I’m Female) or WIWAM (Wish I Was A Man)?
For most women—this is how it goes every thirty days…….
“I adore him for about two weeks, and then the things I found so endearing last week are absolutely maddening this week!”
I am trucking along for two weeks on my new diet and exercise plan…then crash! PMS kicks in and I can’t help but eat French fries (or my favorite onion rings), ice cream with extra chocolate syrup, or all the fatty foods I was determined to stay away from. I am too tired and irritable to exercise. I feel like such a failure….it’s too hard to pick it all up again, so I give up!