Community Can Improve Your Life

We often hear that community can improve your life, but what is community? Defined, community is a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. It’s also defined as a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. For me, it’s the second part of the definition that resonates the most. Being part of a community gives us a sense of belonging. It allows us to share, relate, and even grow as we connect with others and the surrounding environment.


Personally, I’ve always been a big community person. Moving from Phoenix to Nashville 13 years ago was a big shift. I went away from everything and everyone I knew to a completely new environment. My journey to building my community was a unique experience. I was fortunate enough to move into the 12th South neighborhood, that already had the infrastructure set up to support connections. With many coffee shops and restaurants, a park, easy places to walk, and local events/activities that encouraged the neighborhood to be out and about. In addition to where I lived, I also work for an organization that supports building healthy communities with Blue Zones Project. Looking at the Power 9 (lifestyle habits of the world’s healthiest, longest lived people) such as purpose, belonging, and right tribe, you can see how each interrelates to support health, but most importantly, a sense of community can improve your life. 


To build a community, you have to be comfortable in the uncomfortable at times. Putting yourself out there, participating and engaging with people and events that might be outside of your comfort zone. It’s also about consistency. Finding spots that resonate with you and showing up regularly to build those relationships. I can be a creature of habit going to the same coffee shops on the same days, going to the farmers market, local boutiques, grabbing a drink up the street, and attending a gym daily that has helped me form bonds with people I wouldn’t have normally met. I love knowing I’ll see the same barista on Wednesdays or seeing the owner of my favorite French wine bar, or see my fitness pals every morning at 6:45am. 


Having a sense of community embraces spirit, character, and pride. It is a feeling that people within the community matter to one another with a shared understanding that their needs can be met through commitment and togetherness. Being a part of a community makes us feel as though we are a part of something greater than ourselves.


Community is unique to each individual as to what and how it meets their needs based off their own definition. Regardless of what it is, it’s important and central to the human experience. 


Journal prompts to help you better understand and build your community and how this community can improve your life.

1)     How do you define community? Are you experiencing that today, if not why?

2)     What aspects about your community do you love and interest you? 

3)     What are ways you can build your community? 

4)     What are 3-5 actions you can take to become more integrated into your community? 

Join Us for The Happy Hour Club

Starts April 19th


The Happy Hour Club. A new type of social club, open to anyone and built on our values of connection, honesty, vulnerability, curiosity and fun. Show up as your true self and connect authentically – this is not a networking group, no need to perform or be anyone but you!

The Happy Hour Club will meet twice a month, gathering at both the studio and for outings in our fun and beloved city. If you would like to connect with new and like-hearted people and are interested in exploring more opportunities in town, this is the place for you.


Month-to-month payment upon request. Call the studio at 615-953-3934.

4 Ways Creativity Improves Mental Wellness

I struggle with the winter time. Short days and limited outdoor activities are a mental and physical challenge for me, but this year I really tried to lean into the winter in a different way, and in doing so, I discovered how creativity improves mental wellness. I vowed to myself I would get cozy, hibernate a little, and try to lean into what the season is meant for. Wishing away the gray days wasn’t working for me anymore, and it felt a little wasteful to discount that time as anything that could bring forth something pleasant. 


One of the best things that grew from befriending the season was that the time spent inside – literally indoors, but also figuratively with my inner self through deep reflection – was my reignited passion for not only expressing myself creatively but experiencing others’ creativity. 


In the past, creativity has come to me in the form of innovation, strategy, problem solving and creation of workshops and business offerings – maybe a slightly more masculine-involved form than what I’m experiencing currently. Lately, creativity has been manifesting itself in the form of writing and sound healing. What I’ve found is, regardless of how creativity comes to life, it connects me to who I am at my deepest core. It roots me in my deepest truth, connects me to my authenticity, and allows me to better understand myself, so I can more joyfully experience the world around me. 


I had a brainstorm with our artist in residence the other day, and I found myself giddy and lit up with excitement from our planning of the community art piece. Really enjoying this feeling of fulfillment, I pondered ‘what is it about creativity that makes me feel like this?’ 


Here are 4 ways creativity improves mental wellness:

  1. Creativity doesn’t lie to you. If a piece of art, a poem, or whatever you’re doing creatively lights you up in an inexplicable way, it means that it is speaking to a part of your soul. Not necessarily your thinking brain, but to something way deeper. How fascinating it is to explore that level of depth! 
  2. When you are fully immersed in creativity – your own output or others’ – you are forced to be fully present in the moment. When you are truly present, you are able to tune into your whole self in that solitary moment. When you can do that, you can understand more about how you’re feeling and what you need. 
  3. When you can connect creatively, you can move emotions and meaning through you in ways that sometimes can’t be described with conversation only.  
  4. Flow and creativity are linked, but I don’t know which one comes first. When you are in a creative mode, you are more in flow (and vice versa). When you are truly in flow, your subconscious helps you make decisions that align with your intentions. Before you know it, you’re living more purposefully every day. 


Something I can’t express enough is that you don’t have to be a Pulitzer prize winner, a professional, or even a “good” artist in any way to exercise creativity. For decades, I believed I simply wasn’t creative, that I shouldn’t even try to exercise that part of my brain. I learned that was a lie I was telling myself, and when I started to remember some of the creative outlets I loved as a kid, and started practicing them again, a whole new level of relief and release opened up to me. 


A few years ago I began a consistent journaling practice. Last year I amped it up with a poetry masterclass, and then sound practitioner training, which, in tandem, has opened up a whole new way to express myself and communicate to others. I don’t know if I’ll ever share my poems with anyone, nor the written intention that goes behind each sound bath (I don’t want to ruin the magic). But that’s not what it’s about. 


When I started writing again I became happier, more present, and more inspired by what might have been previously thought of mundane things happening around me. Creativity fosters connection with yourself and with others. Connection fosters ideas that feel like little hits of dopamine. And to me, that makes the world feel like a better place to be.


I’ll leave you with a little inspiration from Jungian author, Helen Luke: 


Here is a great truth, which is valid at every stage of the quest. If we refuse, or are not able to express, to make actual in some form or other our vision, such as it is at any point, then we are not only unable to go forward to the next step but we are probably in for a regression. For instance, a dream or vision will retreat again into the unconscious and have no substance unless written or perhaps painted – made visible, audible, or tangible in some way – [then] shared with one another and attended to so that it alters our attitude.

How to Overcome Self-Sabotage

In our series, From Dr. Frock’s Desk, we sit down with Dr. Frock to gain a psychiatrist’s perspective, anecdotes, and tools on a variety of topics. This month, we are talking about why it can be so hard to do the things we know are good for us, and how to overcome self-sabotage.



Can you explain what self-sabotage is?


It’s important to understand that self-sabotage is something we all do. It’s not inherently pathological, or representative of a specific personality issue. The best way to think about self-sabotage is as any behavior or action, conscious or unconscious, we engage in that is directly in opposition to a stated goal.

There are some more dramatic cases that we all might be familiar with. For example, someone is in a loving and healthy relationship but then engages in behavior that might abruptly end the relationship. It can also be something comparatively minor like procrastination or perfectionism. There’s a wide range of self-sabotage – so you can think about it as a broad term that describes a behavior that takes us down a path that seems to conflict with our goals.



Procrastination is such a common example. We know it’s not helping us, so why do we do it?


Procrastination is often perceived safety. We are consciously or unconsciously thinking, “I’ve never really done this before, so why try so hard just to fail?” It might seem appealing to just not try and avoid the failure up front. Perhaps in the past, not reaching a goal led us to disappointment, pain, or embarrassment, so we self-sabotage as a form of short-term relief from the anticipated failure. “If I don’t try, I can’t fail.” The payoff of procrastination is short-term, but ultimately it is quite limited and doesn’t get us anywhere.



If we’ve learned the hard way in the past, should we listen to our brains?


It depends on the issue. There was a point in time when it really benefited us to be trained to be afraid. If you imagine living in 4000 B.C. and you were attacked by a tiger after walking past a specific tree, it would be very advantageous for you to think about the tiger attack every time you walk by a similar looking tree, and even avoid those trees altogether.

The legacy of that primal fear response has carried over to the present, but in our day-to-day lives in a modern and much different society, our brain tends to treat things as a threat that simply aren’t life threatening. For example, just because your last four relationships have gone badly, doesn’t inherently mean that the fifth one always will. In this way, “protecting” ourselves by ending the relationship prematurely, isn’t actually helpful even though our brain may see it this way overall.    



Could you explain how to overcome self-sabotage?


The opposite of self-sabotage is self-care. However I don’t mean the kind of self care that people often think of – the consumerist driven idea of self-nurturing (like bubble baths and candles, spa day, etc), but rather being honest with yourself and caring for yourself with tough love. We want to be careful to not engage in “self-care” that is actually just further avoidance. 

An example might be, if you’re struggling financially, yet continue to live paycheck-to-paycheck. Instead of wondering where all your money goes every month, sit down and make a spreadsheet of all your debts and spending so that you can address the root of the problem. Another example, for folks who struggle with deadlines or assignments, would be to actually buy a calendar, take some time to map everything out in a highly detailed way. Self-care is not an inherently pleasant thing and is more so an investment in your future self. 

In order to overcome self-sabotage, we need to assess the situation and what we truly want, and then look in the mirror and say, “I don’t want this. I’m not going to settle for less. I’m going to change it.” 

There is a radical difference between offering ourselves self-care through tough love and self-care through nurturing. Both have their place, but the tough love is the one that will see you address the elephant in the room, break through any self-imposed boundaries, and take action to feel better about yourself and your situation.



If self-sabotage seems to be a cycle, do you have any tips for combatting it? 


Before we really engage in the kind of self-care I mentioned, we actually need to assess what is going on. What is the behavior I am actually doing, and what is it getting in the way of? When we’re doing something that is different from what our stated goal is, there’s definitely something there to explore. We have to identify what is actually underneath the surface and what’s driving this self-sabotage behavior. 

First off, we might not actually want to do what we say we want, but it’s rather something we feel like we’re expected to do. However, if we do indeed want to achieve our stated goal, there could be a painful core belief getting in the way of productive behavior. For example: “I’m not very smart, so I’m not going to apply to this program.” or “I am not lovable, so I’m not going to put myself out there.” 

Sometimes these behaviors are so ingrained in us that even after we’ve identified them, we’re not sure what the next step is. I think it’s okay to admit that, and to work with a coach or therapist to help jumpstart our behavior change and learn how to not avoid hard and/or scary things.



What if you can’t identify the driving behavior?


It’s very common to identify a pattern of behaviors but not be able to grasp the deeper meaning or root cause. In fact, I would say that almost everyone has difficulty with this when dealing with more complicated aspects of our lives, such as relationships. We are overall just not very proficient at self-assessment in an objective way. I think this is exactly where psychotherapy comes into play as it can help us uncover these triggers and limiting beliefs that might be holding us back from our full potential.

This is actually a common reason, whether they know it or not at the time, why people might seek psychotherapy or coaching

Without this deeper level of understanding, self-sabotage behaviors lead many of us to thinking “What’s the point?” This then can drive emotions like anxiety, anger or depression, and behaviors like isolation or acting out. This is often a chief issue that can be addressed in therapy with the goal of bringing about positive change.



Nurturing Your Family Dynamics

What do you think of when you hear “Family Dynamics“? Let’s think beyond the obvious and clichéd conversations of what makes a family, and things to do or not do in order to lead a happy family life. These concepts miss the true nature of why exploring and nurturing your family dynamics is viable, healing, and necessary for healthy family structure. 


Something to remember, a healthy family does not necessarily mean being happy and fun-loving all the time. If we’re honest, the dynamic of family can be difficult, confusing, painful and down right hard work at times. This complexity is why we encourage a deep dive into your family’s dynamics, and how they shaped the person you are. 


For some, the benefit of developing your understanding of family dynamics might not be something you prioritize. Sometimes we disconnect, leave, or find other ways to separate from who and what we consider to be “the problem.” But what happens when you fall in love, get married, or commit to a spouse/partner? What about having children, becoming a parent? And there’s also extended family… 


Family, and navigating the dynamics of those relationships is important, and isn’t something we can just leave or walk away from. The connection of family may be a priority for reasons ranging from medical and health concerns, the need of resources, to love and support. Instead of avoiding, or changing what you have, adopting an approach of nurturing your family dynamics may be a better solution.


Family plays a significant role in connecting our dots and learning ways to support these relationships can lead to balance and happiness in our individual choices. The objective is not to change others but to learn how to be healthier in how we decide to engage. Imagine existing in “what is.” Making choices that work, and experiencing positive movement from the reality of “what is”, versus operating from places of “what was”, or “what should/shouldn’t.” Getting in touch with our family dynamics can create this kind of movement, end the perpetuation of negative, unhealthy patterns and enlighten us to how we experience wellness in the family.  


The way we develop family is rooted in culture and tradition. It’s our first introduction to socialization, the beginning of the process of developing our worldview, and structuring our psychological development. So, even if we disconnect or separate from “the problem,” the imprint of family is always there. Although some days of working through the details of family dynamics may be difficult and hard work, it’s worth it! Remember the cliché: anything worth having is worth working for. Working for a better version of self is always worth it.  


Who doesn’t want to experience having better expression, being a better role model, having better conversations, better experiences, outcomes, and best of all, actually experiencing wellness within the family. Healthy attention in this area leads to things being better on so many levels, but best of all, it leads to a better you!


Tonia’s Tip:

Remember, when exploring psycho-social topics through educational workshops, you’ll want to ask yourself some questions to evaluate whether or not the information offered will give you the depth and insight you may be looking for.


Does this information address the actual problem(s)/concern(s) I experience?

Are the recommendations thoroughly explained?

Is the information realistic and applicable to my life?

Do the solutions offered come from evidenced based research or credible sources?


Join Us for Family Dynamics – Thursdays starting February 23rd


We’ll be taking the time to understand your family dynamics, and how they unlock the code to understanding yourself at a deeper level; allowing you to build upon the good behaviors and dismantle those that no longer (or never did) serve you.

This unique group series provides the opportunity to learn from all of our licensed therapists.

Save 10% by signing up for all 6 sessions!




Mindful Self-Compassion

Being human is not about being any one particular way; it is about being as life creates you—with your own particular strengths and weaknesses, gifts and challenges, quirks and oddities.

Kristin Neff


Do you find it awkward or uncomfortable to think or speak kindly about yourself? Do you find it easier to do the same toward a loved one, like a family member or friend? Oftentimes in the U.S., women and those who hold other minoritized identities are socialized to be humble and are told that speaking about accomplishments is labeled as bragging. The impact of this message is holding judgment toward the self, easily finding faults, and shrinking to fit in. This is harmful for our mental health and can lead to diminished self-esteem and feelings of worth.


The practice of mindful self-compassion (Neff & Germer, 2018) allows for people to begin showing the same love, compassion, and kindness toward themself that they show to their loved ones (self-kindness). With the central question, “How would you treat a friend?,” we can begin taking steps toward encouraging ourselves, acknowledging our strengths, and living a more content and happy life. 


All humans experience suffering and pain (common humanity), yet when we offer ourselves self-compassion, we are able to work through this suffering, instead of feeling inadequate, panicky, or judgmental. If your loved one made a mistake, would you spend time shaming them and making them feel bad about themself? Likely, you would not do that and instead would comfort them, remind them that everyone makes mistakes, and tell them you still love them. What would it be like to be that kind of friend to yourself? 


The three components of mindful self-compassion are self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness in this process allows us to be present in the moment, to notice our pain, but not judge it, to check in with how we feel, and to begin offering our self some kindness. One way to do this is to have a regular loving kindness meditation practice. Try this one from Kristin Neff & Christopher Germer’s Mindful Self Compassion Workbook (2018, pp. 65-67):


Allow yourself to settle into a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down. If you like, put a hand over your heart or another location that is soothing as a reminder to bring not only awareness, but loving awareness to your experience and to yourself.


A Living Being That Makes You Smile

Bring to mind a person or other living being who naturally makes you smile—someone with whom you have an easy, uncomplicated relationship. This could be a child, your grandmother, your cat or dog—whoever naturally brings happiness to your heart. If many people or other living beings arise, just choose one.

Let yourself feel what it’s like to be in that being’s presence. Allow yourself to enjoy the good company. Create a vivid image of this being in your mind’s eye.

May You . . .

Now, recognize how this being wishes to be happy and free from suffering, just like you and every other living being. Repeat silently, feeling the importance of your words:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be healthy.
  • May you live with ease.

(Repeat several times, slowly and gently.)

You may wish to use your own phrases if you have ones you normally work with, or continue to repeat these phrases.

When you notice that your mind has wandered, return to the words and the image of the loved one you have in mind. Savor any warm feelings that may arise. Take your time.

May You and I (We) . . .

Now add yourself to your circle of goodwill. Create an image of yourself in the presence of your loved one, visualizing you both together.

  • May you and I be happy.
  • May you and I be peaceful.
  • May you and I be healthy.
  • May you and I live with ease.

(Repeat several times, using “we” rather than “you and I” if you like.)

Now let go of the image of the other, perhaps thanking your loved one before moving on, and then letting the full focus of your attention rest directly on yourself.

May I . . .

Put your hand over your heart, or elsewhere, and feel the warmth and gentle pressure of your hand. Visualize your whole body in your mind’s eye, noticing any stress or uneasiness that may be lingering within you, and offering yourself the phrases. 

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be healthy.
  • May I live with ease.

(Repeat several times, with warmth.)

Finally, take a few breaths and just rest quietly in your own body, accepting whatever your experience is, exactly as it is.


This practice takes time and we are here to support you through this process at The Happy Hour. Therapy is a great place to learn how to provide yourself with the self-compassion that you deserve! 

12 Life Lessons from my 37th Trip Around the Sun

I turned 37 on November 11th this year, surrounded by loved ones and filled with gratitude. Two days later, I went for a walk, and being all in my feels I flipped on Jay Shetty’s podcast “On Purpose.” And wouldn’t ya know it, after a few seconds of scrolling I landed upon his episode, “12 Lessons Learned in the Last 12 Months” written after his birthday reflection .  


Inspired, I decided to reflect back on my year of deep dives and journaling to uncover my 12 life lessons. These nuggets of insight from my inner thinking helped me grow this past year. A lot of them aren’t new, but continue to be lessons of which I need to remind myself. Here goes…


Life Lesson #1 – November 2021

Love is our nature. Connect with self, and connect with others. This returns us to love, our natural state.

This notion came from a meditation I listened to that got me thinking, what is the point of all of this without love? Not just romantic love, but loving yourself, loving your community, loving the people with whom you spend your days. We were born loving and trusting and relying on unspoken connection to keep us alive. It’s instinct…do what you can to return to it. 


Life Lesson #2 – December 2021

Depth brings you home to yourself.

This month tested me with the holidays and covid scares, and I certainly didn’t exhibit grace and love at all times. I’m a work in progress and always will be, but lessons have layers and growth isn’t linear. I found myself holding onto some superficial expectations of the holidays that when parallelled with some personal grief and anger, made it clear how much more rewarding depth is than surface stuff. You can rewrite patterns or rules or expectations if that’s what it takes to come home to yourself, but you’ve got to know what being true to yourself looks like. It’s not the same as what’s on Instagram or whatever your neighbor is doing. It takes deep diving, introspection and honesty…which also means letting go of a lot of “shoulds,” which this time of year is chock full of. 


Life Lesson #3 – January 2022

Don’t let your mind make your life harder on you than it needs to be.

As Franklin Roosevelt said, “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s so true! January started off with a beautiful Intention Setting workshop, in which I determined my word for 2022 would be “Beacon.” I loved this word and it was a much needed reminder of how I wanted to show up every day. It was followed by my second round of Covid, lots of snow days, and a skeleton crew at the office because of the above. I held on to my intention to help me not get wrapped up in controlling the uncontrollable. We also kicked off our inaugural Whole You program, which involved me creating 90 days of content for 7 different individuals, and I learned SO DANG MUCH. It forced me to practice what I was preaching and it felt amazing. 


Life Lesson #4 – February 2022

By being yourself, you bring happiness to others.

I love being a coach so much. I love working with my clients on such a deep level, and walking alongside them through their growth, hardships, all of it. I really have to check myself to not try to be everything to everyone. February was filled with new programming, new clients, and opportunities. I constantly had to remind myself of this lesson, so I didn’t blast off with excitement and over-doing. And it turns out it was true. Pro tip- turn this lesson into an affirmation: “By being myself, I bring happiness to others.”


Life Lesson #5 – March 2022

Go inward, do the work, and you can put it back into the world 10-fold.

Ok, I PROMISE this isn’t just a giant pitch to work on your personal growth. But it’s really true how much more you can give to the world when you invest in yourself. So many people I talk to say they just want to make an impact on the world. But you can’t do that if you’re not giving to  yourself. This description from Kim Kran’s archetype The Mystic spoke to me this month: “It may seem the mystic is inward-facing, yet its light beams back to the world with the strength of a thousand stars.” Some old stuff got rattled up for me this month, but as we know, you do the work…and then you do it again. The stuff you healed comes back at a different angle, because you have grown, and you now are ready to heal on a deeper level and give back to the world with the strength of a thousand stars. Be the mystic.


Life Lesson #6 – April 2022

Creativity is crucial for moving through emotions.

Let’s just face it, life is hectic and pulls you in so many different directions. All of these directions have big experiences that can stir up big emotions. I learned that I absolutely, non-negotiably, must have an activity or something that is only for me. Only for my pleasure and enjoyment. Not for my family or my business. In April I took a Masterclass on poetry and it was such a beautiful way for me to express myself creatively, with zero pressure or price tag attached to whether or not it was good enough, in fact, I never shared any of it because it was all mine. It helped me make sense of and move through some of these big emotions coming through other areas of my life. 


Life Lesson #7 – May 2022

Find wonderment and always keep moving towards your passion.

This sort of piggybacks off lesson #6. This doesn’t mean you have to quit your job and go full-time on your passion project, but you’ve got to have a passion that can manifest as a hobby at least. We had a lot of ideas at The Happy Hour in May. Being new and still in a growth phase, we were excited to say “yes” and try out so many new things. This is fun and all, but it can easily become a hustle or a checking of a box, and it doesn’t feel good trying to do all the things. So we honed in on what we are passionate about, that’s what created this place afterall. 


Life Lesson #8 – June 2022

You can listen with your whole body.

In June I started training to become a Certified Sound Practitioner (it will be official December 21st!). I learned that listening is so much more than what you hear with your ears. I learned that sounds that used to drive me crazy, could actually be powerful, when listening with my whole body. I sat still a lot more than ever before. I stirred some big stuff up in therapy, and my therapist said, “what would it look like if stillness were the antidote to fear?” Whew. Still thinking about that one. 


Life Lesson #9 – July 2022

Community is medicine.

I went on a week-long trip with five of my best friends in July and it lifted me up more than I could’ve imagined. One of my favorite memories was a car-ride to a hike that was a couple hours away. We belly-laughed the whole time and were completely tuned into our childlike wonder and silliness. It felt rejuvenating to be totally free and not so serious. I don’t think that feeling could’ve emerged in me without that community in which I feel completely free. 


Life Lesson #10 – August 2022

Don’t plan anything extra in August.

Tactical, yes, but August was a circus. Back to school and allll the events that go along with it (I’ve only had kids in school for the covid-era, so I wasn’t used to all this stuff), 3 year old son’s birthday party, planning hubby’s 40th birthday trip, sound bath training, planning 5 year old daughter’s birthday party, fabulous Mom’s Night Out event at work, oh and giving a presentation to 200 people for a little company called Google…plus all the day-to-day-stuff. P.S. – Google – if you want to plan something in August, I’m all ears ;-). 


Life Lesson #11 – September 2022

Alone time is non-negotiable.

No surprise that this one came through loud and clear in September as a result of August for this introverted, highly sensitive gal. Without alone time, all the noise blocks the ability to be clear for me. I started leading the Discover Your True North course in September, and gosh do I love groups so much (remember, community is medicine). Being a facilitator of these groups requires clarity and transparency, and thus so much alone time. 


Life Lesson #12 – October 2022

Slowness remembers and hurry forgets.

I gotta give credit to Mark Nepo for that line, but it rang through my head all throughout October…and still is, to be honest. Remember what the heart and body want, i.e. what feels good versus only considering what your thinking mind is telling you to be the answer. Your mind wants you to rush, it’s what it has become accustomed to. Put down the phone, let your mind slow down, take a step back and remember the bigger picture that is so hard to see amidst hurry. 


Want to work on your personal growth?

The Whole You program is designed to meet you where you are and catapult your growth and your total wellness. With the dedicated support of a Certified Holistic Coach, a Registered Dietitian and and Energy Practitioner, Whole You will kick start your 90-day lifestyle evolution.


From Dr. Frock’s Desk: Surviving the Holidays

In our new series, From Dr. Frock’s Desk, we sit down with Dr. Frock to gain a psychiatrist’s perspective, anecdotes, and tools on a variety of topics. This month, we are talking about surviving the holidays: how to navigate the stress that the holidays can bring.


What kind of things seem to cause stress around the holidays?

To start, traveling is hard. If you’re part of a big family, you might find yourself spending a lot of time in a confined space with people you don’t have the best relationships with. The obligation to attend large family reunions or gatherings with people you don’t stay in close contact with, and whose values may differ from yours, can bring a lot of dynamics into play and bring up emotional triggers for everyone involved.

In addition, the holidays are a time that most of us associate with family, so it becomes hard not to think about those who aren’t with us anymore. This can raise a lot of grieving emotions on top of what has already been mentioned. 


Over the holidays, it seems that feelings can be magnified for those who are having a hard time.

Absolutely. Think about the habits that make up your baseline that are being disrupted; from traveling, to changes in your sleep patterns, to eating and drinking differently, to not exercising as much as usual. 

In addition to the grief aspect I’ve already mentioned, I also find that folks tend to get a lot of anticipatory anxiety as the holidays approach. We can’t help but think about disagreements that emerged in the past and the likelihood they could happen again. 


Do you have some tips to help cope with all of that during the holidays?

Setting clear boundaries for family gatherings can be a great way to minimize conflict and emotional triggers. Like no politics, religion or money, and being clear about conversations or activities you’re not willing to engage in. We can also set boundaries for ourselves – consciously remembering that we can choose what to get upset about. You know Uncle John is going to say some crazy stuff, but you can choose whether you want to light that fire with him or not.

Also find ways to anchor yourself by taking care of your baseline self-care. If you’re a runner, bring some cold gear with you and make that run happen. 


Can you tell us about S.A.D., what it stands for, what to look out for, and any strategies to help cope with it?

S.A.D. stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. “Seasonal” is what it sounds like. “Affective” is just a more academic way of speaking about someone’s mood. And then “disorder” implies that it’s a diagnosable condition. 

We go from summer where the light is bright, we’re outside doing active things, to fall where it starts getting cold out, the sun is setting earlier, and you’re getting legitimately less sunlight in the fall and winter months. So it starts in September and builds for a few months, and can become something like an actual condition with symptoms including: like feeling less motivated, changes in appetite (often eating more), being less active and feeling sluggish, and not enjoying things that we used to. 

Nashville is very unique in that it’s the furthest east major metropolitan area in the Central Time zone, so we can really be affected by S.A.D. In fact, there is a strong argument to be made that we should be in the Eastern Time zone. In the winter, the sun starts setting before 4pm, which leaves most office workers not getting enough sunlight and it can cause a vitamin D deficiency. This is actually much more significant in Nashville than in other places I’ve worked.

Fortunately, it’s very treatable. There are some medication options, folks can also find some benefit with Vitamin D supplementation, and using a light box from mid-September through February can be helpful for many people. Using the light box can trick out brains into thinking we are actually getting more sunlight than there is outside.  


Key takeaways for surviving the holidays with minimal stress:

  • Try to keep to your routine as much as possible. 
  • Set clear boundaries with yourself and others.
  • Get outside in the sun as much as possible.
  • Know that you’re not the only one struggling.
  • Give yourself some grace.


Download our FREE Guide to Surviving the Holidays

From Dr. Frock’s Desk: The Power of Groups

In our new series, From Dr. Frock’s Desk, we sit down with Dr. Frock to gain a psychiatrist’s perspective, anecdotes, and tools on a variety of topics. This month, we are exploring the power of group therapy and coaching, and how you can use groups to catapult your personal growth.


What defines group work when it comes to mental health and how does it work?  

In the mental health world, groups are typically structured with a group leader who has formal training in this realm. It’s not just a bunch of people getting together, it is a structured meeting with a frame, and guidelines on how things can operate, including things like some limitations, one person not dominating the time, making sure everybody gets a chance to participate. There could also be rules to help people communicate more effectively about themselves, and maybe avoid some topics that aren’t really why people are there. The interesting thing about group therapy and coaching is that it’s so customizable and each group is pretty different. Each group can be tailored to the topic and participants.


In your opinion, what makes group therapy and coaching so impactful?

Groups are like an exponential factor of the work you might be doing one-on-one with a therapist or coach. In a group, it almost seems like you can get a lot more done in terms of how you relate to other people. There’s always going to be somebody in the group that reminds you of someone else in your life. How they make you feel, based on what they’re saying, can provide a really good opportunity to identify and work on your own thoughts with your individual therapist or within that group- depending on the group structure and rules. Group leaders create opportunities that spark thought provoking conversation.


A lot of people are hesitant about group therapy or coaching, because of the fear of talking in front of others. What would you say to those people?  

If you’re really worried about talking in front of people, then this is a great opportunity to do it. Everybody that’s there is interested in a certain topic, and they’ve been accepted in the program with the goal of being vulnerable and learning from others. This isn’t just like talking to a stranger on a street corner, or like public speaking. It’s a very measured, checked arena. A safe space for you to grow. If talking in front of others really does worry you, it’s almost a stronger argument for you to go. Because there’s something there, and by giving in to that fear, you’re only strengthening the avoidance, making it harder for yourself down the road. 



Why are groups so powerful for the mom population, in particular? 

In my private practice, for example, I hear a lot about feeling the need to Keep Up with the Joneses. A lot of mothers are comparing themselves- seeing other moms who seem to have “it all together”, wondering why they can’t be more like that. Why it seems harder for them than other moms. I think there’s a big opportunity for moms to be with other moms who also feel busy and lost. Not only would they have comradery, but they’ll get a glimpse behind the curtain and see that no-one actually has it all together. 

Another thing that comes to mind is parenting burnout. Just feeling completely exhausted, which ties into self-care. This brings in a lot of societal themes that can be intense in terms of traditional gender roles in the household, or just digging into whether a partnership feels symmetrical or asymmetrical, and who’s contributing what. It’s very individualized for each couple, but I guarantee that there will be great opportunities for dialogue about that topic in a group setting with moms. Often, it’s very small things that come out in these kinds of settings, bringing insight into what is the true source of tension or burnout. 

There’s also the aspect of moms being able to share tips with one another, not from the perspective of judgment or unsolicited advice, but from the perspective of lifting one another up and making each other’s lives easier.


Why would it be beneficial to work on something like your authenticity and spiritual connection with yourself in a group setting? 

I think people will find some solace in the fact that not everybody else has figured it out. Regardless of where they’re coming from, if people are in the group looking for a chance to talk about what their purpose is, it’s very likely that everybody will kind of share some bewilderment about where to go next. I think it would be very helpful to a lot of people to know that they’re not like the only ones that are trying to figure it out. I could see people being inspired by one another’s breakthroughs and choices, providing each other accountability and a safe space to try ideas on, while setting aside material items and expectations while talking through their passions in an expansive way.

 To take a step into something that goes against expectations can be scary, but I’ve noticed that when one person in the group makes a seemingly small step, but that takes a lot of courage, it can create a ripple effect of courage that spreads to the rest of the group.


In The Happy Hour’s group series, we have a virtual platform that allows group members to stay connected between sessions. Do you see a benefit there?

 A lot of times with more traditional group therapy, you’ll meet once a week and be given a few assignments without much follow up. I just feel like the virtual platform would really enhance the efficacy of the work that’s actually done. Creating small, daily habits for group members to follow up on is powerful. I don’t hear about anything remotely close to that very often. So that, in itself, is pretty notable. It’s the real deal. People are going to get a lot more out of it. 


Would I still get individual attention in a group?

 Yes, as I mentioned before, that’s where the framework, structure and a skilled group leader come into play. With a good frame, everybody will get individual attention, particularly when there’s good dialogue, the leader can prompt individual attention. 


 Are there any downsides to being in a group? 

In more acute hospital settings there can be a downside. An example might be a suicide survivors’ group, where someone tries to go and it’s just too fresh for them. In situations like that, joining the group a month or two later might be a better fit. 

Regarding the type of groups offered here at The Happy Hour, I don’t think there’s much downside to group work. It’s a great opportunity for growth.


The content of this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for a therapeutic relationship.

Looking to Catapult your Growth with Groups?

We have two fantastic groups coming up this month, including Moms Group Series and our bestselling Discover Your True North group course.

Sign up today – both groups start Tuesday September 20th!

A Season of Change

Basic girl confession: fall has always been my favorite season. It probably started when I was a little girl; anxiously awaiting the start of school, getting super pumped about my new school supplies and the fresh start. Even as an adult, I still associate fall with monumental change. For me, it prompts a desire for more self-improvement and a renewed commitment to my values more than the traditional “New Years Resolutions.”


Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.

John C. Maxwell


Although I’ve always welcomed change, it does not mean I’m immune to the fear and apprehension that comes with transitions. Change, especially one in which we did not actively choose, is often complicated by many different emotions. With fear of change also comes resistance. When we resist change, our anxiety grows, our desire to control our surroundings increases, and ultimately, many aspects of our life suffer.

How can we not only accept change but also welcome it? One of the things I love to work on with my clients is finding their values, what guides them, and connecting to their inner strength. I find that if we have a good understanding of who we are, the Earth can spin around us and we still have peace.

One of my favorite meditations urges us to “Let go of any resistance to the turning of the earth. Fall becomes winter, or winter then spring. Let it. Don’t pin the leaves to the trees to keep them from falling, nor lie on the ground to keep the new grass from sprouting.” Isn’t it ridiculous to think we can stop the seasons by pinning the leaves to the trees or preventing the grass from sprouting? It’s no different than thinking we can prevent other things in our world from changing. The beauty is in becoming softer to the realities of transition, while holding steady, anchored in your self-image, values, and goals.

So, who’s ready for Fall?



The content of this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for a therapeutic relationship.

Therapist Amy Jackson, LCSW-MPH enjoys working with people who feel they are at a crossroads and need support as they enter a new phase. If you’d like to work with Amy, you can book here.

From Dr. Frock’s Desk: Coping with World Events

In our new series, From Dr. Frock’s Desk, we sit down with Dr. Frock to gain a psychiatrist’s perspective, anecdotes, and tools on a variety of topics. This month, we are exploring how to cope with large-scale events that can bring out big emotions like lack of direction, hopelessness, grief, anger, and stress, just to name a few.


The last two years have been incredibly hard on us collectively, we’ve all faced a plethora of events that have been out of our control and elicit a big emotional response. What is your best advice for maintaining groundedness? 

During these times, I think it’s important to at first, acknowledge that everything happening in this “new normal” is actually abnormal. Experiencing stress, experiencing a dissociative-type feeling, feeling numb, none of these feelings are inherently wrong when something very dramatic is going on around you. 

Your negative feelings are part of human existence. When people start struggling with stress, the things that fall by the wayside first are the basics. It sounds really simple, but you might notice you’re staying up too late or doom scrolling social media, for example. This leads to feeling tired the next day, so you might eat something less healthy, or you don’t exercise. This cascade of forgetting the fundamental basics (which are within your control), like sleep, exercise, and diet, can take a stressful event (which is out of your control) and turn it into a deviation from your normal behavior, which can compound the overall stress you’re experiencing.


What tips do you have for some people who are suffering from feeling like they don’t have any control, or for those that are experiencing a lack of autonomy due to systems in place that are much larger than who they are?

It’s important to note that there are always going to be shifts in the energy that you’re dealing with, and that energy can be inherently positive or negative. So when people have a lot of positive energy, I think we’re very good at devoting that towards healthy reinforcing behaviors, like self-care. But when we have negative emotions and energy, sometimes we’re not the best at re-directing that energy into something productive. 

For example, if you find yourself feeling uneasy and stressed by a political issue, you could choose to be angry and ruminate, but you’ll never feel better by going down that destructive path. Alternatively, there are a lot of opportunities for channeling that energy into something positive, like advocacy. There are many startup organizations throughout the social and political spectrum that can be very rewarding to get involved with. So while world events might be out of your immediate control, you do have the power to control and choose how to channel your energy. 

Another thing to remember is to not beat yourself up for not being able to “fix” everything. Keep yourself grounded by recognizing what is within your control and what you can realistically accomplish.


Professionally, have you noticed a collective shift in emotions, stress response and a feeling of a loss of control?

No question. In my practice, I see a lot of different types of people, and I’ve actually been really surprised with how uniform the stress response seems to be. Whether it’s acknowledging how it feels to be living in these very strange post-pandemic times, or the political divisiveness and the stress of how we’re starting to define people by what they believe. 

I will routinely ask people how much time they’re spending on social media. There’s productive stuff on there, like positive communities, but a lot of times, it’s not productive, and more often than not we’re being constantly bombarded with worst-case scenario headlines. We aren’t supposed to be able to handle this information overload, all the time, all at once.

In general, many of us seem to be on social media too much, after all, it’s designed to be addictive. I think that limiting your exposure to that kind of media model is probably going to be better for you long term. 


What do you recommend for people who are feeling like they’re overwhelmed, or just “off”, without being able to pinpoint the cause of their uneasy feelings?

I mentioned this a little bit before, but don’t forget the fundamentals. Sometimes when people feel really overwhelmed and stressed, it can be common to shut down, when in fact, you want to do the exact opposite. You want to be around people that you care about. You want to do something that you enjoy. I think exercise is like one of the most underutilized, under-appreciated stress reducers of all. It’s almost a guarantee you’re going to feel better afterwards.

Sometimes people can feel intense emotions they don’t understand, and it often manifests in anger or isolation. In treatment, what I try to do is say, alright, you’re feeling this way, we need to figure out a way where you reflexively decide, “Oh my gosh, I need to go for a walk”, or “I’ve gotta go connect with people that I care about.” You almost want to retrain your habits. Rather than shut down, you teach yourself to do the opposite. 


What is one way to notice the burnout without spiraling deeper into the feelings?

Two things that come to mind are normalization and validation, reminding yourself that it’s probably okay to feel what you’re feeling. Step back a little to gain perspective by asking yourself, “If 100 People were put in this position, how many of them would likely feel the way I feel?” Often the answer is that 95+ people would feel the same way. 

This is often very apparent in workplace wellness today. I find that a lot of existing workplace wellness programs don’t do a very good job of acknowledging and validating those feelings. There’s a band-aid approach of prescribing a yoga class, or group meditation to feel better- which may help for the duration of the class, but it doesn’t dig deeper and address the root of the problem. Maybe employees just need to hear: “Yeah, this is a really hard job, and this was a really hard time. It’s okay to feel this way. How can we better support you?” Think of it from the perspective of, if you didn’t feel this way, that would actually be kind of weird. 


Any advice for someone beginning to establish new stress management habits?

I would say some of this information, as simple as some of it sounds, is extraordinarily difficult to actually do. Even the simplest advice, like “just going for a walk”, is not always easy to do. Habits and thought patterns are not easy things to change, and that’s what you have to take into consideration. Any behavior change is not going to be easy or natural the first time, and it takes practice to get into it completely. 

COVID was a challenging time, because a lot of things we took for granted, or didn’t view as self-care, were ripped away from us. For example, if you were someone who went to church every Sunday; this was a place to be social, to sing, and to tap into your spirituality. When that all just went virtual, it makes sense that you likely felt a little bit more alone. It’s times like these that it can be helpful to recognize which habits comprised your self-care before. What filled your cup? How can you take steps to get back to that?


Would you also recommend breaking down those habits to help identify them?

If you enjoy eating outside with friends, for example, you can break down that experience into individual components, like being with friends, eating new food, trying new restaurants, and being outside. That way, if going out with a group isn’t possible right now, you now have identified 4 bite-sized components to choose from. So if you can’t see all your friends, you can still try a new recipe and eat outdoors.

Once you’ve got an inventory of things you enjoy and that fill you up, it’s important to get them scheduled. If you don’t take decisive action to make them happen, there’s a good chance they won’t get done. 


The content of this blog and book recommendation are for educational purposes only. Neither is prescriptive, nor a substitute for a therapeutic relationship.

Dr. Frock’s Book Recommendation

If you enjoyed this topic and would like to explore it further, Dr. Frock recommends the book, Silence: In the Age of Noise, by Erling Kagge.