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.

Connecting to Your Inner Voice

 “Who am I?  What do I believe in?  Which relationships and life pursuits really matter to me?”  These are common questions I hear from my clients, and they typically appear when an individual is feeling stuck or has reached a fork in the road and they are unsure how to step forward.  The person struggles to know how to proceed because he/she/they seemingly do not have access to the “inner map.”  That map, or one’s inner voice, cannot predict the joys, pitfalls, or the outcome of a given path.  However, it can provide information on a) how you feel about each choice and b) whether a given option moves you in the direction of being who you want to be and the life you want to live.  While the inner map, or voice,  comprises several parts, we’ll dive a little deeper into the two aforementioned components, your emotions and values.


People often find themselves struggling with their emotions, particularly those that are uncomfortable or painful to feel.  They work hard to distract themselves or to push the emotions away.  The strategies used to accomplish this may work in the short term, but in the long term, the emotions return and can be accompanied by new concerns (e.g., addiction, financial crisis, etc.). 

Instead of fighting with, or trying to ignore, your emotions, the alternative is to connect with them and tap into the information they provide.


Emotions have messages to tell us; they show us the heart’s desires, needs, hopes, etc.  For example, loneliness tells us of our need to be seen and known, and it will move us to pursue social connections.  Anger energizes us and points us to our passions; it sends us into action – to stand up for what we believe in and to advocate for change when we witness injustice.  If we breeze past these indicators of how we feel, there is an increased likelihood of pain because we choose a path that is not in line with our authentic selves; we stay disconnected and alone or we remain in discomfort and dissatisfied with the status quo. 

In my view, emotions are essential ingredients for decision making, and we do not want to miss the information they are trying to share.  


Values, like emotions, serve as part of our inner map and guide us in the direction of our life’s goals.  Not only are the goals meant to align with our values but also our steps along the way toward reaching the goal.  In other words, values will indicate whether our choices and actions are congruent with our living in a manner that is like the individuals we want to be.  So, who do we want to be?  How do we want to show up in our close relationships?  In what ways can we serve our communities and how do we want to be remembered?  Values can be situation specific or they can be enduring across the lifespan; either way, they provide an answer to these questions.  As a mental health counselor, my values include being accepting, authentic, compassionate, mindful, and supportive.  These qualities describe how I relate to my clients and how I hope they will remember me after our work has concluded.  Values can be applied to any “hat” we each wear, such as parent, spouse, friend, mentor, volunteer, boss, etc.  They highlight whether we are living in line with who we want to be (e.g., parental values may include being loving, caring, trustworthy, and patient) or the need to course correct because we have become remote from our identified values.  When you notice the path toward your goal has stalled, I encourage you to be kind and understanding toward yourself; listen to the emotions that have surfaced (like anger or sadness) and use them, along with values, to connect to your inner voice, as they light the way back to your desired path and assist in helping you get unstuck and move forward. 


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

If you’re wanting to connect with your inner voice, or if you want a talk therapist who can help you through life’s challenges and transitions, as well as self-worth and acceptance, you can book with Kathleen here.

Kathleen is EMDR and ACT trained.

The Link Between Diet and Mental Health

What we eat doesn’t just impact our physical health, it can also impact our mental health and overall wellbeing. Think about our body as a working machine – all parts are related! The fuel for this machine, or our body, comes from the foods that we eat and what’s IN the fuel, ie the quality, can make all the difference. Read on to learn how food impacts our mental health and mood.


How are diet and mental health linked

While the relationship between diet and mental health is complex, it’s well known, (and studies have shown,) that they are closely connected. The connection between diet and mental health stems from the link between our gut and brain. This link is called the gut-brain axis. Don’t worry, we won’t go too sciencey about this, but we’ll give you the gist!


Your gut is filled with billions of bacteria that impact the production of chemical substances that are constantly carrying messages back and forth from the gut to the brain. Having a healthy and nourishing diet promotes the production of “good” bacteria. This good bacteria has a positive influence on these chemicals. A poor-quality diet can increase inflammation which hinders production of the good chemicals.


Think about it this way: a good-quality diet equals good communication within your brain and therefore your emotions can articulate it. When the communication goes awry, emotions and mood can be negatively impacted. It all comes down to the communication. 


So how does this affect mental health?

When we eat a poor-quality diet, such as a diet filled with empty-calorie foods, high-sugar desserts, and lots of refined carbs, we’re more likely to have greater mood fluctuations. This can increase our likelihood of developing or increase our periods of depression and anxiety. Eating these foods has also been shown to lead to a poor outlook and increased negative thoughts.


The quality of the food that we eat also impacts our concentration and productivity. Both of these can have a long-term effect on our mental health.


So, what should you be eating?

We’ve mentioned that foods that are filled with empty calories and high in sugar and refined carbohydrates should be limited, but what about foods that we can eat MORE of? 


Whole Foods

Whole foods, or those free from preservatives, additivities, and are minimally processed can help to promote the production of good bacteria in our gut. Look for foods that have fewer ingredients or come in a “raw” form such as fruits and vegetables.



Antioxidant-containing foods, such as berries and leafy greens, fight inflammation in our body. 


Complex Carbs

Complex carbs are those that take longer to digest than the simple form, and therefore sustain our energy longer. Complex carbs include whole wheat bread, brown rice, oats, and quinoa. Complex carbs also contain fiber, which has been shown to promote the production of good bacteria in our gut.


Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps with the production of one of the chemical substances, serotonin, that assists with sleep and mood. While we usually think of vitamin D as coming from the sun, we can also get it from dairy sources, we can consume vitamin D in tuna, fortified juices, and mushrooms.


Next steps

Although it’s still important to think of the way that food makes us feel physically, don’t forget how it also makes us feel mentally and emotionally! Try incorporating more of the foods mentioned above while consuming foods with poor nutritional quality in moderation. Healthy eating is just one component of your mental health that is in your control.


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


Do You Want to Fuel Your Mind and Body?


The Whole You 90-day holistic coaching program takes a multi-faceted approach to wellness, with the help of professionals that will give you the guidance to kick start a change in your life, equip you with knowledge and know-how, and encourage you to stay consistent.


  • Two (2) 50-minute sessions with your Certified Holistic Life Coach
  • One (1) 50-minute Nutrition Coaching Session
  • One (1) 50-minute Energy Work session
  • A personalized program and game plan, made just for you.
  • Check-ins and journaling prompts 5 days a week via our virtual platform.
  • Curated content from our extensive resource library. We do the research for you and send the best nuggets of insight to you weekly, to streamline your growth.



Finding Authenticity and Purpose


“When was the best time in your life?” When someone recently asked me this question, I found myself nostalgically wandering to the past, searching for the exact right answer. But, of all the joy-filled eras that I’ve lived, I realized that those times pale in comparison to RIGHT NOW


Just a couple years ago, I finally gave myself permission to show up as my true, authentic self. This wasn’t something that simply happened one day, it was the result of 1) my mental exhaustion from striving to be perfect, and 2) lots and lots of self-work to figure out who my authentic self actually was. When this door was unlocked, everything became richer – my relationships, my work, previously mundane experiences, etc. I finally began to feel like I was living my purpose, without doubt, and felt it deep into my bones. It was liberating. 


“This timeline isn’t adding up,” you might say, “You started The Happy Hour 5 years ago, so you were living your purpose for longer than the last couple measly years.” Well, let me let you in on a little secret…you can’t live your purpose without knowing who you truly are, and you can’t live your purpose without loving that person. 


Want another confession? When I first started putting together plans for this business, I was embarrassed to tell people about it. I had wrapped my identity so tightly around my former title and fancy corporate job I worked years to achieve, that I would strategically go out of my way to avoid talking about this concept. This concept upon which my heart and soul was completely sold. I didn’t want anyone to see me differently than all the ways for which I had previously been praised. I didn’t want to be seen as anything but predictably perfect. 


Sure, I had all the usual self doubts, “Should I concentrate on my kids and stay at home with them until they’re older?”, “Should I go back to a more stable and steady job that might not have as much stress?” (There is nothing wrong with those options, btw). But, I had always known since I was a kid that I had a gift in helping people and I needed to use that gift. But I didn’t truly believe in myself or that I could live out my purpose, until I started my journey to authenticity, did my own hands-on research, and started training to coach others. You can’t give (or guide) what you don’t have, and that lit a fire in me to let down the 34-year old walls and commit to living authentically. 


Through therapy, coaching, reading, writing, listening, meditating, praying, learning and living by mindfulness, and exploring my spirituality through so many mediums, I came to redefine myself, but this time without using any labels. I’ll never forget the day I sat on my therapist’s couch and said,

“I don’t even know who I am anymore, but I feel like myself for the first time in my life.” 


Getting started on this journey isn’t easy. And, in my experience, it works best if you come at it from many different angles, receiving information from multiple viewpoints, then putting it all together in a way that feels true to you. For me that meant doing a 180 on my long-held beliefs, and learning about myself in an honest way that pushed me out of my comfort zone. This leap of faith led me to some spiritual healers and health professionals that changed my life through giving me a variety of tools to support my mental health that covered all the bases: mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. Here’s some wisdom I learned that I’ll carry with me forever, and I invite you to try on: you are more than your title(s), you have everything you need within you already, and you are loved no matter what. 


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


Are you ready to find your authenticity and purpose?


We’ve re-vamped our best-selling workshop series, Discover Your True North, to help you catapult your growth and discover your fixed point and baseline in a world that can at times feel out of control.

Topics in this 6-part series include: 1) uncovering your authentic self, 2) creating your story, 3) defining spirituality on your terms, and 4) removing roadblocks. We’ll peel back the layers to reveal who you are at your core. This unique internal compass will ground you, teach you ways to find inner-strength through a storm, and set you on your journey to your most fulfilling life. Get ready for lots of ‘a-ha’ moments!



The Importance of Holistic Wellness

Have you ever started on a journey to improve one aspect of your life and found yourself losing steam  and eventually giving up? You may have beat yourself for not being more disciplined, for not having enough willpower, and not having what it takes to achieve your goals, but what if we told you it’s not your lack of willpower holding you back?


Often what we see as forward movement  in others, is actually (whether by design or intuition) the result of approaching wellness holistically. Frequently, the most profound growth comes down to considering what you need for your mind, body, and soul to thrive in harmony.


This isn’t some new-age woo-woo. This is cold, hard science.


Take your emotions for example. Stanford Neuroscientist, Andrew Huberman, Ph.D. explains

“The vagus nerve is responsible for emotion, and the way it does that is to pool – to aggregate – the conditions of your gut, the conditions of your heart, and the conditions of your breathing, which includes your diaphragm and lungs, and takes that kind of as a collection of information and sends it to the brain, and controls what we call your emotions.”


Now you might be thinking, “If that’s true, why do I still feel anxious when my gut health is so good it would make the supplement gal at Whole Foods jealous?” 


That’s because your emotions are controlled by your body, but they are also influenced by cognitive events like processing stressful news, being hurt by someone you care about, or hearing great news that gets you excited. Dr. Huberman explains that your brain doesn’t act on information alone, so it combines the external factors with your body’s response to those factors, which in turn creates your moods.


Let us break that down:



So what does this have to do with your personal growth? Everything.


Knowing how your mind, body and soul are connected allows you to approach your wellness journey holistically. Having simultaneous support for your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual/social health allows you to work towards your goals in a way that has built-in safety nets. Supporting yourself in this inclusive way helps minimize setbacks when life throws you curveballs.


You could be working hard on your mental health with your trusted therapist or coach, but find yourself not progressing how you’d like. You might be feeling held back by brain fog and energy levels so low that you simply can’t motivate yourself to take action. This is where working with a dietitian or health coach could be the key to unlocking the next level of your mental health journey. Optimizing your nutrition to make sure you’re getting a wide variety of brain-boosting and blood sugar balancing nutrients will make sure your body and mind are being fuelled in a way that supports your wellness journey.


Similarly, you could be carrying a lot of your emotions physically. Headaches, stiff muscles, and belly aches might be so frequent you’ve just chalked them up to simply “getting older”. PSA: Getting older doesn’t mean you have to feel like crap. Those aches and pains are your body’s way of letting you know something needs attention. One of the best ways to get unstuck emotionally is to move physically. Introducing a physical aspect to your stress reduction strategy, like walking, yoga, or massage can help shift the tension out of your body. Working with a coach can help you examine your routines in a way that doesn’t add another thing to your to-do list, but finds natural opportunities to integrate movement into your day.  A practice like energy work combines physical relaxation with introspection and mindfulness in a way that can really take your holistic wellness to the next level.


If you’re working on your physical wellness with a goal to have peak energy and feel strong and confident in your skin, excessive calorie restriction and endless hours on the treadmill are unlikely going to help you see the progress you’re after. If you’ve been down this road before, you’re likely familiar with the burnout and misery that accompany this approach. A life coach can help you identify what is holding you back from reaching your goals. They might work with you on boundaries and stress reduction. Introducing a mindfulness practice and more active rest might seem counter-intuitive, but they might be the missing piece in your overall wellness puzzle.


It’s starting to make sense, isn’t it? How wonderfully, intricately connected we are. How we can’t thrive in one aspect of our lives, while neglecting others… not for long, at least. 


At the end of the day, that future version of yourself you’re working towards is not going to be found through immense willpower and relentless grind. It’s going to be achieved by supporting your mind, body, and spirit so that they can work together to help you achieve your goals in a way that doesn’t require willpower. It’s going to be achieved by finding a state of flow, balance, and intention. A place where you feel grounded in yourself and where your potential is limitless.


Do you want to Transform Your Life using a holistic approach?


Consider this: feeling grounded, confident and unshakeable by building a lifestyle that uniquely supports your total health. Encompassing the four areas of health: mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual, the Whole You program will lead you through a 90-day lifestyle evolution.



Finding Calm with Active Meditation

For many of us, the thought of sitting alone with our thoughts and having to be still for more than 5 minutes doesn’t sound too appealing. Sure, we’ve all heard that there are benefits to meditation and mindfulness practices, but who has the time and the patience? There are better ways to decompress, like watching Netflix or mindlessly scrolling through social media… right?

What if we told you there were ways to practice meditation that don’t look like that of an experienced yogi? If the mold you think you should fit into isn’t working for you, find what does. Believe it or not, you can be meditative during your everyday tasks or hobbies. Have you ever attended a workout class, listened to your favorite artist, participated in a workshop, or even just taken a shower  – and felt that clarity, bliss and sense of comfort afterwards? Congratulations, you’re already a pro at meditation! If it’s helping you relax, clear your mind, and evade distraction, then you’re on the right track. Ultimately, meditation is whatever you want it to be and however it works for you. BUT – like many things in life, to get the most out of it, you need to be intentional and practice. If you need some help, or ideas – that’s where we come in. 😉



Whether it’s taking a walk, or attending one of our mindfulness classes at the beautiful Cheekwood Estates, being outside is a great way to practice meditation. During a traditional meditation practice, although you’re to sit criss-cross-apple-sauce and remain still, you’re also welcome to observe your surroundings and take in the present moment rather than dwelling on your thoughts. You can do this on a hike or while swimming outside too! Being outside is a great way to be mindful of the beauty around you, while also getting some much-needed vitamin D and fresh air. Give it a try yourself!



As you can probably guess, a cluttered mind can be directly tied to a cluttered environment. If you look around at your bedroom and realize clothes and dishes have been piling up without you noticing, you’re likely going through life on autopilot rather than approaching it mindfully. It may seem difficult to start viewing laundry day as self-care and time to yourself rather than a chore, but your body and mind will thank you for it. 



We know what you’re thinking: how is something as simple as bathing a form of meditation? It’s kind of like the cleaning thing. Any mundane task can free up your mind just enough to be meditative. Next time you’re in the shower, try tuning into your senses — noticing the smells of your shampoo or how it feels to scrub your skin. Be gentle with your body and give your mind a break from everything else.



I’m sure your mind immediately went to yoga, and we don’t blame you. Meditation is basically built into the practice, so yes, yoga is a great option, but it’s not the only one! Any form of exercise requires you to focus on your breath and be present, or otherwise risk falling, pulling a muscle, you get the idea. Not to mention the endorphins aren’t a bad way to forget what’s stressing you out on the day-to-day!



We can’t all be Picasso or Shakespeare, but that shouldn’t stop us from getting creative! It’s the same idea of busying your hands and the technical part of your brain with an activity that frees up the rest of your mind for mindful thoughts. Tune into what you’re creating and spend some quality time with yourself. You could try coloring, playing an instrument, or writing in a journal. The possibilities are endless, and who knows? You might be proud of what you come up with.


Is meditation feeling any less intimidating yet? Good! That’s the goal. There are so many ways to practice being mindful — so many that you’re probably already doing, but just didn’t realize could be made into a meditative practice! Join us for Meditation off the Mat to discover the purpose of meditation and learn how to connect with the nature of it. This workshop will give you tools that you can use to immediately improve your overall mindfulness and reduce your stress response. Say “so long” to meditation frustration, and “hello” to feeling grounded in the present moment. 


Are you ready to make meditation a habit, no matter what that looks like, and start reaping the many benefits: better sleep, increasing self-awareness, chronic pain, anxiety and stress management skills, and more? You got this!

The Beauty of Mindful Moments

Your alarm sounds and autopilot kicks in. You get out of bed, put on a pot of coffee, jump in the shower, get dressed, grab a bite to eat as you hurry to start your work day. You get into a flow, working through your endless to-do list, relying on coffee to keep your battery charged. Doing everything you can to feel good about being devoted to “the job”. At the end of the day, when it’s time to check out, you feel too mentally exhausted to do anything that fills you up before you fall asleep and do it all over again tomorrow.


Let’s take a second to think about this. Our current state of navigating constant change and uncertainty has left us feeling consumed and stressed by expectations we’re supposed to live up to. Simply making it through the day feels like an achievement in itself.


Do you experience this kind of reality? How do you shift to bringing life and purpose back into your days? By giving attention to self. Mindful moments allow us to channel productivity and progress in the direction of wellbeing, by focusing on small, present moments of time, versus adding another thing to your to-do list.


Ask yourself this question, what do I want to experience today? If your answer is calm, peace, quiet, and de-escalation, then these precious moments called mindfulness are for you. Now ask yourself, am I open to something new, different and enlightening? If your answer is yes, then light up your day today with a little something for yourself that will only cost you moments. Here’s how we do it.


Take some time to think about what you truly enjoy, you can make a list or just apply thought. (examples:  sunshine, music, favorite colors, scents, sports)


Reflect on what your day-to-day is like, and come up with the best time or way to have your mindful moments. (examples:  mornings before starting your day, before bed, during a lunch break).


Then begin. At your desired time, intentionally bring into thought that which you enjoy.  Allow yourself to be in a comfortable or stable position whether standing or sitting.  Visualize this or physically look at it, touch, taste or smell, depending on what it is.  Allow yourself to dwell upon it, notice its nuance with direct attention. Does it shine, is it soft, is it cold or warm? 


As you engage that favorite color, melody of sound, calming scent, allow yourself to breathe, noticing the inhale and exhale while engaging something that brings subtle joy and feels good. Just for a moment, allow the presence of subtle joy and breath.


The more we do this, the better we get at receiving calm. Quieting the constant chatter of our thoughts and dimming the escalation of the hustle and bustle of our environments. Instead of rushing back to your to-do list, take a pause to experience calm and quiet. Finding the joy in present moments, appreciating the little things.


Give yourself this stop, this pause, as often as you can throughout the day and allow it to grow into your personal feel good moments.


Need Help Developing Your Mindfulness Practice?

Join us for Meditation Off The Mat, where you’ll learn to bring meditative moments into your day-to-day, no mat, fancy poses, or app required!