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Valued Living Starter Kit

I’m excite to share with you all my Valued Living Starter Kit. This Valued Living Kit was inspired by my love for vision boards and desire to stay focused on all that’s important in my life. When I developed my Vision Board Workshop, focusing on values first made so much sense to me. Focusing on values allows a person to reflect with intention about what’s important to them, how much of it is present or missing in their lives, and if they want to pursue those things. I created this Values Starter Kit because I kept talking about this topic with my clients and I’d have them create makeshift to-do lists for themselves that involved their values. Since one of my values is wisdom and creating, I decided to create this kit for myself and my clients. My goal for you is to have you explore your values and match them up with meaningful and realistic actions (small steps) that will get you closer to your values and life goals. I always tell my clients that I’ll never have them do something I’m not willing to do myself. So this project was also for me to get back to Value

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Self-Compassion on Valentine’s Day

Self-compassion on Valentine’s Day (and everyday, multiple times a day) is going to be important for people who might have some pain associated with relationships and find themselves triggered on this day (pretty much everyone). While the commercialization of the day is widespread, we can’t help but see all messages about love, coupledom, and gifts galore. Which in and of itself, can be triggering. While this day is associatedwith intimate relationships (at least here in the U.S., in Latin America it’s deemed Day of Love and Friendship), I’d like to invite you all to examine the relationship with yourself and practice self-compassion on Valentine’s Day, regardless of your relationship status, plans for the day, and even beyond that. Self-Compassion expert, Dr. Kristin Neff defines self-compassion as encompassing three main parts: self-kindness, the commonality of suffering among all, and mindfulness of emotions without judgment (www.selfcompassion.org). Easy-pleasy, right? Practicing self-compassion can be really hard especially for people who grew up hearing constant criticism about the things they do or about who they are. Self-compassion might also be hard for those who tend to use rigid thinking, aka black-and-white and all-or-nothing thinking. “Shoulding” on yourselves and others also makes it hard to practice

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Freebie: To-Do List with Compassionate Reminders

The To-Do List is an essential part of the organized person’s life. What is often left out of to-do lists though, is a reminder section for self-care, compassion and how to ask for help. Since the majority of the people I work with have a number of competing responsibilities, roles, and priorities, I created this freebie To-Do List printable to get you focused on task completion, along with some reminders about making sure you select a self-care activity, tell yourself a compassion phrase, focus on effectiveness (whatever works!), and ask for help when needed. Self-Care is crucial. It’s especially important for people with high stress jobs, careers and lives. Self-Care is the #1 topic in my sessions with First Generation Professionals, especially those in helping professions. Burnout and compassion fatigue are occupational hazards for helping professions, therefore self-care is a priority. Self-Compassion aka Compassion Statements are just as important especially when people tend to beat themselves up for missing deadlines, performance evaluations, etc. Compassion means calling out the struggle for what it is and wrapping with it TLC (tenderness, love, care) for oneself. For compassion statements to be powerful, they must be personalized. Below is my favorite book with empathic

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Coping with Unemployment During the Holidays

Dealing with unemployment and limited finances during the holidays can be stressful for many. Below, I’ve made a list of 10 ideas for coping that can help you and your families during this challenging time in your life. 1. Update Resume. You can use this time to update your resume, filling it details of the jobs and skills you have to offer employers. 2. Seasonal Jobs. The holidays are a great time to apply for seasonal jobs. A lot of companies are looking to hire people for the busy holiday season. 3. Quality time. The best thing about the holidays is spending quality family time together. The kids are out of school and time seems to slow down a bit for many. Focus your energy on being present with your family, instead of focusing on presents. Quality time can look like playing games, movie night at home, cooking or even relaxing together. Give your family members the gift of time. 4. Monitor your “should” statements. “I should be doing more;” “I should be buying more;” “I should make everyone happy.” When we “should” on ourselves and others, we place a lot of importance on unfair expectations. Practicing acceptance of reality

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Mental Health Gift Guide to Inspire Healing 2018

It’s officially the holidays and with that can come with gift giving, stress and trauma triggers for many. Since the holidays can trigger painful memories and emotions for many, I always recommend finding things to soothe with during this difficult time. While it’s hard to be going through the difficult time, it’s also hard on the loved one who is concerned and doesn’t know how to help. Aside from recommending professional help for yourself or a loved one (this is always my #1 recommendation), I’ve put together a mental health gift guide. Many of these items are great tools for healing and inspiring awareness, self-care, and self-compassion when we need it the most. I’ve also included links (note: many of these links are amazon affiliate links. That means that I earn a small commission on items purchased from this list. Proceeds go to supporting this page. See disclosure statement below) to my favorite books that have aided in the healing process of many individuals I’ve come across, including myself. You can buy these gifts for others, but also for yourself! 1. Planners/Gratitude Journals. Studies show that expressing gratitude significantly aids in recovering from depressive episodes. This journal is my favorite

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Latinx Therapy Campaign: “Mental Health, it’s like the air that we breathe”

Today, I want to introduce you to the first ever National Latinx Campaign to reduce mental health stigma in the community. I am so thankful to Adriana Alejandre, LMFT for starting Latinx Therapy Podcast and the Latinx Therapy website/directory. The campaign’s mission is to 1) break the stigma of mental illness, 2) encourage our community to heal layers and generations of trauma, and ultimately, 3) focus on wellness as a community. Check out the video that’s buzzing around the internet and feel free to share with family and friends. It’s in English and Spanish. Feel free to use the words that we use to state why breaking the mental health stigma is so important to us. My statement was: “Because mental health is like the air that we breathe.” I chose this analogy because mental health is all encompassing and made up of our thoughts, feelings and actions. If we are in a negative state of mind, it informs everything we do. Just like if we are breathing in toxic air, it will impact and inform every aspect of our being. Our mental health is the same. When it’s on a decline, our suffering goes up. Getting treatment for your

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Coping with a Loved One’s Terminal Illness

Watching a loved one suffer though a chronic, declining or terminal illness can be painfully intolerable. This very article and topic can be super triggering for some, so know that you can read a little bit at time, or at a pace that feels digestible for you. The first thing I want to help validate is that whatever emotion you as a loved one is experiencing is valid. You should also know that that it’s completely normal for there to be major variability in how you and the rest of your family/friends will react to the news about a terminal diagnosis. As your loved one progresses through their illness, there might be different stages where you will witness their illness progress and their functioning decline. That’s hard to watch, try to digest, and completely normal for any loved one. In this post, I’ll write about different things you’ll want to consider for your own coping in this process. You as a loved one and/or a caregiver will need to take care of yourself so that you can be a pivotal part of your loved one’s illness and journey. It’s not an exhaustive list, therefore, I urge you to be in touch

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10 Tips for Navigating the Pre-School Blues

Navigating the pre-school blues is a hot ticket topic at home currently. My little one (LO) just started pre-school and it’s triggered so many emotions and catastrophic thoughts for everyone in my family. My LO has been crying at drop off every day. “It was gutting” is what I said to my husband when he asked me how it went. He’s known it too well as he’s the one who primarily drops her off. So I’m writing this post first as a mom, then second as a child therapist. I started writing this post just as she left the house on day 10 and had yet another crying spell. I’m happy to report that by day 11 (today), she broke the crying spells (so far). My intention was to write the post on how we were managing, not how we got through it. Since today is day 1 of no crying, I’ll stick with how we’re managing. 10 Tips for navigating the pre-school blues: Visit the new school several times before start date. This wasn’t fair for my little one (LO). And I knew better. I recommend that there are frequent trips driving to the new school, taking them on a tour

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‘First Gen’ Compassion To-Say List

The term “First Gen” has become both a compassionate term of endearment and a resounding validation of experience. First Gen refers to First Generation – being the first in the family become a naturally born citizen in the United States. In my office, it also means First generation to take A.P. classes in high school, go to college, and/or become a professional. The experience of First Gens is a unique one that many can’t relate to which can leave First Gens feeling alone, misunderstood, with an incredible pressure to succeed in every life domain, and an underlying fear of being an imposter through it all. Today, I’m focusing on the themes that have come up in my First Gen therapy sessions, clinical supervision, and heart-to-hearts with the comadres and how compassion heals. I take a radically open approach that incorporates acceptance and self-compassion. In my opinion, these are the hardest skills and concepts to continually practice, and yet, they’re the best ones for ultimate healing. The concept of the to-say list came from my First Gen clients. First Gen Professionals love them their To-Do lists. It’s what got them through high school AP classes, college and thriving in their professions. I

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What do I say to my suicidal loved one?

I had the great honor to participate in an Instagram discussion on Mental Health and suicide within the POC (person of color), in particular the Latinx community. Check out the instagram account @thestrangeisbeautiful for the full conversation. There were 3 topics and I picked #1 to respond to as a mental health professional. Topic # 1: Many people posted that they would like friends or family to check-in, visit them in-person regularly, or give support. Having been on both sides, I know it can be hard for me to listen to a friend struggling vent when I’m not feeling good, or just in general can trigger me too. Though I think it’s important for friends and family to be supportive, I think it’s important for those struggling to not feel that it is their friends and family’s 24/7 job to be there for them. There needs to be another resource or another type of person that can be available instead of having friends and family be fully responsible for another’s well being. Tell me your thoughts on this. (Disagree, agree and why. What other options can we offer? Do you know of different options?) It’s super important to have *safe

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Grieving on “Happy Mother’s Day” (Updated)

  Written by Sofia Mendoza, LCSW In the United States we’ve been celebrating Mother’s Day since 1908 when Anna Jarvis, a peace activist, held a memorial for her deceased mother and then annually celebrated mothers because she believed that a mother is the “person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.” As the day approaches, we get several reminders to, “call mom,” “buy a gift mom will love,” “show the special woman in your life how much you appreciate her” and of course, how “diamonds are forever.” But this article is not about the commercialization of the holiday (wikipedia does a nice job of covering that). This article is more about educating loved ones on how for many, this day can trigger grief responses and how they can understand or help them cope. This article is also about providing validation and support to those who might need it on this day. I’ve been talking to a lot of people about what grieving on ‘Happy Mother’s Day” is like for them and these are the different reasons that were highlighted. Some have very graciously shared their stories with me and given me permission to quote them here.

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Mindfulness for Kids (and Parents)

The topic and practice of mindfulness has made its way into all healthy living circles, including kids and parents. And frankly, it makes me happy. I first learned about it as a therapist trainee and thought it was best thing since sliced bread (I lie, I thought it was the best thing since grilled cheese, I’m a big fan of grilled cheese).  There are many definitions of mindfulness. I like Jon Kabat-Zinn’s the best. The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Model creator says, “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally. It’s about knowing what is on your mind.” Engaging in mindfulness exercises has a host of benefits, such as improving coping, emotion regulation, anger management, and reduction in mental health symptoms. Are you wondering how simply paying attention to the present moment, can help parents and kids? Don’t worry, I was a skeptic too. Studies show that the consistent practice of intentionally paying attention non-judgmentally (simply replacing judgment with facts or removing labels such as bad/good) helps us with the way we perceive things, allows us to accept reality in the present moment, increase emotion regulation and most importantly, differentiate ourselves between our thoughts, feelings

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