My name is Claudia Chavez, and I am a Manager of Mission Delivery at MSAA. I am bilingual in English and Spanish and hold an Associate of Arts in psychology, a Bachelor of Social Work, and a Master of Social Work. I enjoy spending time with friends and family, and I spend a lot of my free time rescuing and helping animals in my community. I take pride in making a positive impact with the work that I do, and helping others brings me joy.
Every January, most of us ask ourselves and those around us, “What is your new year’s resolution?” But why is this a thing? Is this simply a tradition, or is January truly the ideal time to establish goals for the rest of the year?
New Year’s Day serves as a clean slate. It is such a popular time of year to evaluate our goals because it represents a reset button, a fresh start that has the potential for greatness. My personal new year’s anthem is the song Feeling Good by Nina Simone. Regardless of the intended meaning of this song, the lyrics speak to me around this time of year.
Traditions, especially during the winter holidays, are a significant part of our culture. For many of us, traditions bring a sense of connection and comfort. They represent consistency and hold great meaning and purpose. But how do we keep a tradition alive when things are ever-changing?
The holiday season can be filled with so much excitement. Families gather to celebrate, many take pride in decorating their homes, cooking becomes a marathon event, and last-minute shopping can be unavoidable. I truly enjoy the holidays because it brings people together and kind gestures are plentiful. The generosity seen during the holiday season is inspiring, and no act of kindness is too small. It is easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays and lose track of the true meaning behind our traditions.
Fall has arrived, and it brings many beautiful changes. The cooler weather is typically a welcomed change, comfort food is readily available, and trees change their color to all sorts of gorgeous shades of red, orange, and brown. I personally love the pumpkin overload and watching the rain while sipping on a cup of coffee, but many others find this time to be the cause of sadness, anxiety, and even dread. For many, this drastic change in weather and the holiday season can mean unwelcomed feelings and a need to be extra gentle with ourselves.
Whoever said procrastination is the thief of time was not joking. It takes much longer to delay a task than it does to buckle down and complete it. But why do we procrastinate if we know that it is probably a bad idea?
Being productive is not only a matter of planning our day. Being productive means setting that plan into motion. Too often, I have waited to complete a task and chosen to tell myself tomorrow will be a better time to start. Even in writing this blog, I experienced procrastination. I told myself, “Tomorrow I’ll have a better idea, tomorrow I’ll be more inspired,” because tomorrow always seems to be a better time until it isn’t.
Most of us consider procrastination to be a problem that stems from lack of planning, poor time management, or even laziness, but procrastination is much more than that. Although there are many contributing factors, such as lack of motivation, research shows that we tend to delay or postpone doing tasks that we perceive as unpleasant.
Joseph Ferrari, professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago, identified three basic types of procrastinators, each with different motives:
Relaxing is easier said than done sometimes. Whether it be work, school, parenting, pets, health concerns, or finances, sometimes daily tasks are simply overwhelming. Stress can be triggered by internal factors such as negative self-talk or external factors like major life events or daily hassles. Here are some helpful strategies to help us relax when we are feeling stressed and need to soothe our mind and body.
Change your negative self-talk to positive or neutral.
We are often our own worst critics. Negative self-talk is that critical inner dialogue that devalues us or puts us down and limits our potential. It may sound like “I can’t do anything right” or “my body is weak; I’m never going to get better.” Negative self-talk promotes feelings of helplessness and stress. These are cognitive distortions, persistent thoughts that aren’t grounded in facts or reality.
This harsh form of self-criticism can be managed. Practice recognizing these thoughts, acknowledge them when they arise, and take your power back. Try stopping those thoughts by saying “stop” to yourself, remind yourself that these thoughts are not facts, and replace them with a positive or neutral thought. For example, instead of telling yourself “I’m useless and it won’t get better,” try reframing your thoughts to say something positive like “I am having a difficult time right now, but I have dealt with similar challenges before, and I can handle this too.” Reframing those thoughts doesn’t mean lying or relying on false positivity. If you can’t think of a positive way to rephrase it, try something neutral like “It’s not going great, but I’ll handle it.” Identifying these thoughts and reframing them takes practice. The first step is becoming self-aware and understanding that there is a difference between your feelings and reality. If you have a difficult time recognizing these negative thoughts, ask yourself, would you be this negative and critical of a loved one if this was happening to them instead?
Massages are a great way of relaxing tense muscles, relieving pain, and reducing stress. It involves the manipulation of soft tissue, including muscles and tendons, to promote relaxation, pain relief, and improved circulation. Getting a massage with a professional massage therapist can be expensive, but luckily, self-massage can also give us some of the same benefits.
You may use your hands or tools to knead your skin and apply pressure to tense muscles. Rub massage oil or lotion on your hands and massage your shoulders, neck, head, and body. Focus on the areas where you feel tension and discomfort. You may use the palms of your hands to massage in circles and apply more pressure with your fingertips. Be mindful of the amount of pressure you are applying to avoid injuries. You may use specifically designed massage tools like electric neck and shoulder massagers and foam rollers, or you may use a tennis ball or other objects to help get those hard-to-reach areas in your back by placing them on the wall and using your back to roll the object.
Professional massage therapy can be effective for people affected by MS who are experiencing pain, but it may exacerbate symptoms for some individuals. MS can be unpredictable and affect individuals differently. It is important to consult with your healthcare provider before engaging in complementary therapy and seek a professional therapist who is trained and can accommodate your specific health needs, such as sensitivity to heat, bladder concerns, and mobility issues. You may visit the American Massage Therapy Association for assistance in locating a qualified massage therapist and information about your state’s licensing regulations.
Next time you are feeling overwhelmed, try these techniques to help soothe your body and mind. We might not have complete control over external factors, but we can control how we treat ourselves.
Summer has arrived. Whether it means time at the pool, the beach, or more time at home to spend with your loved ones, summer is known for fun activities and sunburn. However, summer is not always fun and games. Staying hydrated and cool can be a difficult task, especially for those affected by MS. Here are some tips to stay cool this summer and beat the heat:
What is it about artwork that catches our attention? Is it the colors? Or maybe the artist’s story. As an art newbie, I don’t have knowledge of the proper technical skills or techniques. I don’t know what makes a piece of art great. I have minimal understanding of the intricacies of painting, but what I do know is how it makes me feel.
Art is an excellent way to improve your well-being, regardless of your artistic experience. It promotes self-expression, mindfulness, and the reduction of stress. Although all forms of art can be beneficial and promote peace and relaxation, it is important to find an activity that brings you joy and accommodates your lifestyle. Here are some examples of therapeutic art activities that you might like:
In the spirit of spring cleaning, when is the last time you decluttered your emotional life? Spring cleaning isn’t just for the home. Did you know feelings and thoughts have a way of piling up and need decluttering too? Acknowledging our emotions can be the beginning to setting them free and releasing emotional baggage.
Think of those unhelpful thoughts that have been in the back of your mind lately. Am I holding on to anger, guilt, sadness, or resentment? Those thoughts generate feelings that impact the way we see ourselves and everything around us. Make a list or say them out loud and take some time to really acknowledge those feelings. Now ask yourself this question – are these feelings helping me with my wellbeing and goals? If the answer is no, it is time to tidy up!