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How to Shrink a Shrink

A mindfulness blog by psychiatrist Candace Good, MD

TOP 10 Mindfulness Tips

Your Presence Is Gift Enough

mindfulness Dec 16, 2019

As a psychiatrist, making spirits bright is my job all year long. I prescribe antidepressant medications, but also help patients prepare to navigate holiday gatherings and family obligations. We can enjoy the holidays when all is calm, but what about when it’s not so bright? Contentment grows from the ability to pause and take notice amid the chaos of the season.

I started practicing meditation, breathing, and the conscious movement of yoga to be more present for the moments that count—but I struggle to stay mindful during the holidays. Last Christmas, I was doing everything right with my yoga practice yet everything still felt wrong, like yoga wasn’t working. If you feel your self-care routine is letting you down, consider these five causes. 

  1. Compassion fatigue

Compassion fatigue is common in people who work in helping professions. It often starts with feeling pressed for time and eliminating the very things that would combat stress. We eat lunch over the...

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Breathe to Make Space

Bulk haul week in my neighborhood means anything that doesn’t fit into a trash bag goes out to the curb. Junk collectors cruise the street two days ahead of waste pickup in search of treasures among tangled Christmas lights and outdated toilets. Fall collection makes room for the holidays, but the season of gifts will fill our homes back up again. Why is it so hard to make space?

We clean our garage twice a year, but our brain is the closet we never quite get to. Before we can organize our minds, we run out of time. We end up shoving more in until we feel stuffed, a door ready to unhinge.

When your mind feels too full to be mindful, you don’t have to kick memories to the curb to make more room, just breathe! When a room feels crowded, we navigate to an opening and take a breath. Do the same when life feels crowded. Conscious breathing prepares us for meditation. 

We are meant to breathe from our bellies, not our chest. Relaxing the abdomen allows more room for the...

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Gratitude for Imperfections

gratitude perfectionism Sep 20, 2019

Kintsugi is a Japanese art where lacquer and gold powder fill in cracks in broken pottery. The piece is considered more valuable as the breakage is part of the object’s history.

Growing up in a broken home, I often blamed myself for other’s distress. I tried to be perfect so everything would be OK, and over time, developed OCD. When I achieved my goal of getting into medical school, this perfectionistic pattern fueled my impostor syndrome. It was only a matter of time until everyone found out I wasn’t ‘good enough’ to be there.

No surprise, I became a child psychiatrist. It never occurred to me that my specialty choice was about understanding my childhood and learning how to ‘fix’ myself. With endless clinical hours helping others heal from trauma, there was little time to process the triggering aspects of the work. I never slowed down to care for myself and continued to give from a place of depletion. Aren’t good doctors supposed...

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Choose Self-Care

mindfulness self-care Sep 12, 2019

Singer Kelly Clarkson had her appendix removed only a few hours after hosting the 2019 Billboard music awards. The headline on social media? “Not All Heroes Wear Capes”. I admire Kelly Clarkson and her work ethic, but I wish, “Kelly Clarkson took care of herself today” would get as many retweets! 

Our society hasn’t paid much attention to self-care. Now we have record numbers of people being treated for anxiety disorders or burnout. We read about the problem but still value that professional who can do it all. 

Last month a journalist who wanted an expert to comment on the definition of self-care contacted me. Her take was that the term is now so prevalent that people may indulge in unhealthy behaviors under the guise of self-care. The example she gave was a spouse getting upset over a partner’s nights out away from the children. Getting together with girlfriends to whine over wine is fun, but is it self-care? 

For me, the first...

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REFLECT: What do bees say to you?

reflect Aug 25, 2019

Bright yellow and black buses flew through my development this morning, the buzz of back-to-school. Smiling children and sleepy teenagers accept their summer is over. The days are shorter, a few leaves turning. These colors and sounds are a reminder of change; actual bees will soon disappear as they prepare to hibernate.

Bees remind me of anxious thoughts buzzing in my head. “Be careful, do it this way.” “Be sure to get it right.” “Be-ware, you’re running out of time!” Maybe this year I’ll put perfectionism to bed for the winter with the bees?

I once said, “If I was a perfectionist, I’d be perfect”. Like most perfectionists, I believed hard work and high expectations made me successful.

Perfectionism and honey bees are sneaky. Honey bees’ stingers are shaped so you don’t feel them entering your skin; the sting comes after the bee finishes. The sting of perfectionism comes when our self-compassion meets the...

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