Monday, December 5, 2011

What to do when the holidays suck.

This is a wonderful article posted by a fellow therapist about taking care of yourself this holiday season - it was too good not to pass along. So, if you ever find yourself less than jolly during the holiday season, read on...

It’s the most wonderful time of the year (insert holiday tunes here)… unless you have experienced loss, trauma, neglect, moved suddenly, lost a job, separated, or divorced, experienced physical illness, volatile behaviors of a family member, substance abusing behaviors of a loved one, or mental illness.

So what happens when you or your child experiences losses and changes beyond your control and the holiday season arrives? Everyone appears so jolly and excited, and your experiences have left you feeling like you want to curl up and hibernate through the holiday season.

Here are 7 ways to honor yourself and help your child transition through difficult times during the holidays:

1. Allow yourself to express your feelings- You may feel like you don’t want to be a downer at the holiday party when people ask you how you’re doing, so you put on a happy face and pretend everything is okay, and reply “I’m fine”. Yes, opening up your emotional floodgates at a party may not be the best way to communicate your feelings; however, you can honor yourself, and your feelings and let others know “it’s been a difficult time”. Model this behavior with your children, so they know that they don’t have to mask their feelings and pretend to be happy in order to make others feel okay.

2. Listen to yourself- Take time to hear and listen to what you need. That may mean saying no thank you to invitations and spending an evening at home reading a book. You may need to quite down the busyness in order to hear what you need. You can use the art making process to ask yourself what you need right now, and then allow yourself to express that through the art. Art making can help your child to become quite and connect with their inner voice so they can honor their needs too.

3. Find ways to honor your loss- Put together a photo album honoring memories, create a memory box, use glass paint and paint a glass candleholder in honor of your experiences. Take time to be with your feelings and help your child find ways to honor and express their grief and loss.

4. Create a new story- Grief and losses often involve letting go of how things used to be. Take the time to acknowledge and honor what was, and then look at how you choose to create a new story. Get creative with a blank journal or art paper and create images and words of what you are welcoming into your life.

5. Seek out support- Being alone in your pain often amplifies the feelings of being disconnected and unsupported. Find close friends, support groups, or a therapist to help you during difficult times. You will go through a period of “new normal” where things will never be as they were before; surrounding yourself with support will help you and your child navigate this transition.

6. Let go of other people’s stuff- When you are honest with your feelings or when problems arise in your home good intentioned family and friends may jump in to offer unsolicited advice or comments. Realize that their response is their stuff; perhaps they feel uncomfortable, or they want you to feel better, and move on, or they want to fix it. Thank them for their concern, and let them know what you need, “sometimes I just need talk things through, or someone to just listen, or I just need to express that I feel upset”. If they are unable to support you in the way you would like or continue to give unsolicited advice let them know how you feel and seek out support from those who will respect your process.

7. Be gentle with yourself- You may want to push through the pain or you may become overly critical of yourself and others. Model being kind with yourself and teach your children to be compassionate with their own feelings and behaviors, this will be a life-long gift you will share with your child.

If you want help getting through the holiday season, and are interested in finding out more information about talking to a counselor, contact us at or by phone 240-274-5680. For more information, visit for details.

Take Good Care,
Amy Hooper
Director, Another Look at Healing, Counseling and Wellness Center

Article By:
Dr. Laura Dessauer’s mission is to teach children, parents, and professionals creative ways to connect and communicate with respect and compassion, so children feel happier and more confident. As the founder of the Creativity Queen, LLC, Laura’s a Board Certified Creative Arts Therapist offering individual and family art therapy sessions and professional trainings. Visit to receive your free audio mini-course Secrets Your Kids Really Don’t Want You to Know: A Child Art Therapist Tells All (*except for the confidential stuff)
© 2011 Laura Dessauer, Creativity Queen LLC

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Tips – Food for Thought!

Each year, we look at why the holiday season is such a difficult time for many people. A few of the reasons we over viewed were: Family Time, including the in-laws, Traveling Issues, Long To Do Lists and of course Holiday Meals. In this blog, we will look more specifically into a few of these topics and discuss some specific steps to help relieve holiday stress.

“I always overeat during the holidays, how can I stop?"

1. Mindfulness! During the meal, be present and pay attention to yourself.
Are you filling your plate to the brim just because that’s what everyone else does? Are you drinking alcohol to “loosen up”, if so, identify what is making you feel uncomfortable and address it directly. Are you actually tasting each bite, or just the first few and then you slip into robotic eating mode? Do you eat to quickly to even give yourself time to feel full?

2. Treat Yourself! Allow yourself permission to feel good both before and after the meal. If you always end up feeling so stuffed it is painfully uncomfortable, or you feel guilty afterwards, treat yourself to the gift of feeling good. Know that you can eat a wonderful meal, and even have dessert without completely filling yourself until you want to pop! Take less food – you can always go back for seconds if you are still hungry. You earned the right to feel good.

3. Enjoy Nature! Take a Walk. After the meal, get the family together or a special relative to take a walk with. This will give you some time to talk, get some fresh air, use your muscles and energize.

4. Match Making! If you feel like eating cassarole, don’t eat salad and expect to feel satisfied. If you want a slice of pie, don’t restrict yourself from doing so or you could end up eating the whole pie 2 hours later! It helps to check in with yourself and your body to see what you are hungry for – does your body feel like it needs carbs, protein, sweets? If you eat what your body wants you to eat – make matches between what you want and what you have – then you are more likely to feel satisfied after each meal.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Meanwhile, I would LOVE to hear your feedback! Send an email to with any questions or comments, and let me know what helps you de-stress over the holiday season. All communication will remain confidential. For more information, visit for details.

Thanks for checking in!
–Amy L. Hooper, LCSW-C, CEAP
Director, Another Look at Healing, LLC

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Free Screening for Anxiety and Depression in Gaithersburg, MD! Sign Up Today

Do you ever worry that you have anxiety, or feel more depressed than the people around you? A Free Screening for Anxiety and Depression is available to you this week. Depression and anxiety affects many people around the world and often goes untreated. In a given year, depressive disorders affect approximately 18.8 million American adults or about 9.5% of the U.S. population age 18 and older. However, due to stigma and other factors, fewer than half of those suffering actually seek treatment.

To help fight the stigma around depression and help identify the problem, Another Look at Healing, LLC is conducting free National Depression Screening Days in October starting Thursday 10/6/2011. As part of the program, participants will have the opportunity to complete a brief, anonymous screenings for depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder and postpartum depression. Participants will be able to learn about the symptoms of depression, and how to help a friend or family member who may be at risk. Participants will also have the option of talking to a health care professional about any concerns they may have and they will receive multiple referrals to local treatment services.

Screenings will be offered from 9am to 8pm, Monday through Saturday, by appointment during the month of October in Gaithersburg, MD. For more information about the event or to set up an appointment, contact Amy L. Hooper at 240-274-5680 or For more information, visit for details.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Mind at Ease - The Right Relationship (Part 3 of 3)

We get the greatest benefits from therapy when we can speak candidly with our counselor and trust him or her to create a safe space for us to explore our ideas, thoughts, and emotions. It is absolutely critical for the connection to feel like a “good fit” between us and our therapist, because that relationship provides the arena where change, growth, and healing can happen.

If you decide to try therapy, choosing a therapist will be an important decision. It’s okay to explore options and look around for the right person to work with.

First, choose several counselors and give them a phone call. Find therapists online, get referrals from friends, or the phone book. Give a short summary of the challenges you’re facing and what you’d like to accomplish with therapy.

Take some time to learn about the therapist’s style. Ask them to tell you about their approach to counseling. Some give more feedback and are directive, while others are quieter and give you more time for self-reflection. There are therapists who give homework to do between sessions, while others do not. No technique is right or wrong, but one may be a better fit for you than another.

From your brief conversation, figure out whether it feels good to talk to this person; if it does, you can make an appointment.

While you’re shopping around, it’s okay to book an appointment with a couple of different therapists. You can even let them know that you’re talking to several therapists to find the best one for you. A good counselor will want you to feel comfortable with whomever you choose and will support your process in finding a good match.

The future looks a little brighter when you walk out of a therapist’s office. Once you’ve found the right one for you, what seemed like chaos in your mind and your life can begin to make sense. You can learn to take control and live more fully, more authentically, right now.

And that puts a mind at ease.

Amy Hooper, LCSW-C, CEAP is counselor who helps regular, everyday people who are struggling through life’s difficult times to take charge of their lives and feel better about themselves. She is the director of Another Look at Healing, LLC, a counseling and wellness center in Gaithersburg, MD, where adults, teens, and couples come for individual psychotherapy or group therapy. For more information, visit or contact Amy at or 240-274-5680.

A Mind at Ease - A Joyful Journey with Therapy (Part 2 of 3)

Therapy takes us on a journey of self-understanding, healing past hurts, improving current relationships, increasing healthy coping mechanisms, and finding self-acceptance. We can learn to attend to our own needs, to self-soothe, to find validation from within, and to increase self-control and self-love.

One common strategy to explore in therapy is looking at our past to make sense of our present. The wounds and hurts of our past can give powerful clues about how we see and interact with the world today. Examining these past hurts and working to resolve them might be painful, but a therapist can support you through the process.

It takes courage to let go of the old patterns, negative self-messages, and destructive behaviors that are no longer working for us. With the support of a trusted therapist, we can gain a new perspective and begin seeing the world differently. We gain the ability to react and respond to situations in new, healthy ways. Examining our past and present guides the work of becoming the person we want to be and getting unstuck from our past.

A counselor may also offer specific skills and coping mechanisms to help us in our healing journey. For example, they may teach us how to do deep breathing to decrease anxiety or use specific communication skills to get our needs met. They may share problem-solving techniques to help eliminate depression. Even the act of talking with our therapist will teach us something, too: how to calmly sit with strong feelings and emotions and communicate them to someone who cares about us. Practicing talking with your therapist can help you figure out how to communicate effectively in your other relationships. You can learn to express your true needs, discover what it’s like to have someone truly listen and help you meet those needs, and be free from other people’s expectations and projected desires.

For more information, visit for details. 

A Mind at Ease - Finding Guidance For Life (Part 1 of 3)

Nothing eases the mind like having someone listen. Whether we’re in a peaceful moment or a crisis, talking and sharing ideas can help us feel understood, validated, and supported as we navigate through life. Feeling that connection is one of the reasons why our friends, family, and loved ones often are so important to our happiness and fulfillment.

There are times, though, when it’s helpful to talk to someone who isn’t involved in our everyday life and has a more objective perspective. We all sometimes feel misunderstood, guilty, insecure, disconnected, or judged in our relationships. Because of this, everyone could benefit from having someone who can listen without judgment or defensiveness; someone who wants to see us grow, encourages us to embrace our strengths, and helps us take charge of our own lives. The confidence we gain from receiving guidance and confirmation on our life’s bearings can be invaluable for navigating our future.

For too long, seeing a counselor or therapist carried an unwarranted stigma of struggling with mental illness. But we all go through challenging transitions and stressful situations, and it takes maturity and self-awareness (and a certain level of sanity!) to realize how beneficial a bit of therapy can be. A therapist or counselor can be a confidante and provide the kind of support we could all use, especially during the stressful times in our lives.

That’s because licensed therapists and counselors see their clients as whole people, not just a collection of “problems.” They can help uncover strengths buried deep within us and reveal insights we may never have known or acknowledged. They can aid our understanding of our beliefs and patterns of thinking and help us gain perspective on what is happening in our lives, clarify our dreams and goals for the future, and choose new ways of interacting with others.

What we discover in therapy guides us to change our behaviors, reactions, and choices in life. The counselor provides the tools; we choose how to use them in planning and building of our future.

For more information, visit for details. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How To Create a Positive Body Image

Developing a positive body image and a healthy mental attitude is crucial to a person’s happiness, mental health and wellness. We have compiled a list of the top 8 ways to improve your body image so you can feel good about yourself!

Exercise - but not to lose weight. Certain types of exercises will help you to focus your mind and learn about your body. This will in turn improve your body image! Take a yoga, Tai chi or pilates class. These workouts are great not because they help you lose weight, but because they demonstrate how to focus in on how our bodies feel. The emphasis of these types of exercises is to be in touch with your body; understand the complicated nature of the body; and, recognize how incredible our bodies are as they help us move, lift and even hug. Pay attention to your body and do not try to ignore or hide it. These classes also allow us to feel more in control and comfortable with our own bodies relatively quickly. All of this helps build confidence and self-esteem, which directly impacts our body image, and ultimately develops empowerment and strength.

Relaxation or Meditation.
By practicing deep relaxation or meditation, you can redirect your mind away from self-critical thoughts, and refocus toward more positive ways of thinking. This can help you gain perspective and decrease anxiety.

Values Matter. Focus on your inner values. If you want to be a kind empathetic person, practice empathy and kindness. Not just to others, but to yourself as well! Understanding that who you are is more important that what you look like can help lead to more acceptance and self-love.

Affirm. An affirmation is a short, positive statement about you in the present tense. This statement affirms what you most want and need in your life. The reason for having an affirmation is to calm intrusive anxiety and worries, correct negative beliefs and to prevent self-sabotaging. In short, the affirmation you create will help you to feel calm, grounded and in control. Try creating your own affirmation. Repeat it to yourself throughout the day, particularly during times of stress. This statement will remind you of what an incredible woman you truly are and what you can accomplish with your strengths. Create and repeat positive affirmations such as “I love and approve of myself'” or “I am a strong, confident person”.

Find Your Assertive Self. Learn to practice assertiveness skills. Being assertive and having a sense of self-control helps you to like who you are. Practice saying “no” when you do not want to do something someone asks of you. Speak up about what movie you want to see instead of following what someone else wants. If you would like for something to happen – ask for help. You might actually get what you want and feel better about yourself for making it happen.

Self-Care. Treat your body respectfully. Nourish it with the healthy food it wants. Do not abuse your body with hours on the treadmill; enjoy a fun walk outside instead. Take a warm bath; get a massage; or simply pamper your skin with lotion if it gets dry or sunburned. These are ways to take care of yourself. If you practice self-care and self-love, you will feel more accepting and positive about your body and yourself.

Adventure. Read fun books, find new hobbies, new friends, study art, or a new language – just try something new. Doing new things will stimulate your brain and help you to see the world differently. It will also help you to take your mind off those negative thoughts.

Attitude. Have an attitude of gratitude. Take time to reflect on all the positive things in your life every day. Think about everything you have and can practice being grateful for. Each night think of one thing that happened during the day that was good or fun or positive. Maybe you helped someone crossing a street; picked up litter from the sidewalk; walked 4 blocks to run an errand instead of jumping in the car; called a friend you haven’t spoken to an several weeks; turned your phone or computer OFF for 15 minutes to have some quiet, introspective time.

Thoughts? Comments? We welcome your feedback. Contact us today at, by phone 240-274-5680 or check out our website at

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Body Image Issues

Summer is here. As the weather gets warmer, people pull out their summer clothes, start special diets, and star spending hours in the gym. With trips to the beach and the warm weather, summer time reveals more skin that would otherwise be covered. Are you confident with your looks? Are you emotionally and mentally prepared for the pool and beach season? Will you let your beauty shine through? In this article, we will discuss the topic of creating a positive body image so you can always feel good about yourself.

Unfortunately the problem of stereotypes in today’s world is poisoning our self-esteem. Magazine cover models have “perfect” faces, are underweight and disproportionate. Actresses and actors from Hollywood look one way, which often makes us think that we are imperfect or even ugly if we don’t look that way. Expensive designers clothes are only made in small sizes and often people starve themselves in order to fit into the cloths. Individuals following unhealthy diets in order to fit in those clothes may have not only an unhealthy relationship with food, but disordered eating as well.

Many of us have a tape playing in our minds of ideas we have heard or interpreted from the people in our life. Some of us think “I’m not good enough” or “I’m ugly”. We often act as harsh self-critics and tend to blame ourselves for any perceived flaw. It takes effort, but if we can recognize these negative messages we are telling ourselves, we can work to turn them around and instead say to ourselves “I am good enough” or “I am beautiful”. So often we forget that our uniqueness makes us who we are – and who we are is special and worthy of praise!

Study conducted by Swedish psychiatrists Allebeck, Hallberg et al. demonstrated that individuals with a negative body image tend to have a distorted perception of his or her shape, size and height. The imperfections that are obsessed over are not even real! Often we compare our bodies to others, and feel shame, disgust and anxiety. We believe that others will judge us negatively, but that is because we judge ourselves . Being unhappy with your body can affect how you think and feel about yourself as a person. A poor body image can lead to emotional distress, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and sometimes even suicide (Stein, 2003).

Developing a positive body image and a healthy mental attitude is crucial to a person’s happiness, mental health and wellness.

Stay tuned for our next post - The Top 8 Ways to Improve Your Body Image.
For more information, visit for details. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Spring Cleaning for Your Life.

As spring has arrived and the world outside is changing, what is changing for you on the inside? As the flowers bloom with their new beginnings, now is a perfect opportunity for you to consider how you want to grow. A few ideas of where to start…

Organizing Yourself
Write down a list of goals you would love to achieve, or things you would want to change in your life. Perhaps you want work on your spirituality, or your personality, improving your physical or mental health or the quality of your interpersonal interactions. Making a list of ideas you would love to change will give you a good starting point to create the life you want.
The next step is to write down what it will take to achieve these goals, we call these Objectives. What steps are involved in creating that life you want? Writing things down is more important that we think it is. Martha L. Chase, Ph. D., Executive and Career Coach, strongly recommends writing goals down, it forces us to clearly define what our goals are and specifically how to get there. Many therapists also recommend drawing or creating a picture of your goal to keep with the written goals. Since often our mental pictures of our goals are vague, drawing them can help you create a visual image and make the goals crystal clear and therefore easier to achieve

Remember, while it may seem that some goals are hard to achieve, you can do it. In order to make it easier and make it happen, remember to...
- Write down your plan.
- Set a due date for each event.
- Start working on it! It will become easier once you start.
- Make sure your goals are realistic. Making changes is difficult but with a good plan and some follow up, you can reach your goals.
- You can ask a co-worker, family member or friend to check in with you. Let your best friend call you weekly and ask about your weekly progress. That way you will feel accountable for your goals.
- And last but not least, it is important to stay optimistic on your way to becoming a new you.

And remember, turn obstacles into opportunities and celebrate your successes.

If you are feeling overstressed or overwhelmed with your life and want to start making some changes, call us today for a free consultation. You can call Amy directly at 240-274-5680 or by email at For more information, visit for details.

Monday, April 25, 2011

More Ideas about Feng Shui and your Life

Defining the Ba Gua (map of energy) can help you understand how specific parts of your home are connected to specific areas of your life. For example, the Southeast Feng Shui part of your home connects to the money energy flow. After we defined all the sectors, it’s important to treat them accordingly, i.e. it would be counter indicated to have a dirty bookshelf full of unusable, old junk in our love/relationship sector because it brings us a useless and dull relationship that will not progress. Instead, try to clean your home, and decorate it with plants, flowers and water fountains as they symbolize life, growth and prosperity. Use statues and paintings of cherubs or lovers in your love sector. Fruit baskets, lucky coins, ducks, turtles, goldfish and lucky bamboos are the lucky elements in your home.

A few ideas of what to avoid: Avoid sharp elements in your home as they symbolize danger and bring out bad energy. Avoid using cracked or broken dishes as it brings bad luck as well as wearing old ripped cloths.

Study the Five Elements Feng Shui Theory. It will help you to balance the Feng Shui five elements in your home. For example, if you are working on attracting more prosperity, you will use the Feng Shui elements of Wood and Water in the Southeast area of your house or an apartment.

It is important to know your Feng Shui birth element. Knowing your element will assist you with improving your own energy. For example, if your own element is Fire, you will need to introduce symbols of Fire, which could be the Fire element colors (red, orange, purple, magenta, pink, yellow), triangular shapes, and so on. You will also need a strong Wood element in your home as Wood feeds the Fire in the relationship of five Feng Shui elements.

Feng Shui Tips for Your Home
(By: Amanda Collins, Feng Shui Consultant)
1) There should be no shoes or slippers lying around outside the main door of your house. Allow that space at the main door to be free and clear.
2) There should be no television sets in your bedrooms: If you cannot get rid of that habit then after watching the television, cover it with a plastic, not a fabric, table cloth.
3) There should be no mirrors opposite your bed or at the side of your bed. Mirrors opposite the bed can attract a third party to the relationship.
4) Place an indoor water fountain in your home, position in a favorable area to attract whatever you want in your life.
5) If you already have a fish tank in your house, be careful. A fish tank placed correctly can bring about greater fortune. But it can also cause you to have lawsuits, bankruptcy, work pressure, troubles and problems.
6) In your kitchen, ensure that opposite your stove there is no refrigerator, washing machine, washbasin and toilet. The fire and water crash causing family members to have disagreements.
7) Try not to allow children to sleep on mattresses on the floor as it causes young children to fall sick frequently. The reason is: chi is not able to flow underneath the bed.
8) For young children, try to have their back to the wall when they write. It is important there should be a solid wall behind a children's writing table. This allows the child to have support so that he can sit there and study longer.
9) Do not allow children to sleep on double bunk beds even if it means saving space. The child sleeping underneath will not have "fresh chi" and so his health might be weak.
10) Your bed should always have a solid wall behind you. This is important if you wish to have a good rest. A solid wall simply means that you can go into deeper sleep and therefore enabling you to have good rest so that when you wake up in the morning, you will feel fresh and well rested.
11) There should be no beam on top of your bed. The beam above causes chi to be pressured thus enabling you to have pressures in life.
12) If you have a lot of work pressure, maybe it's the marble table that you have in your dining room that causes you to have those problems. Remove that marble table and change to a wooden one or alternatively live with that work pressure!
14) Do not use a red sofa set: red represents the element of fire. For Feng Shui, some places simply cannot have red color in that sector. A red sofa sets gives rise to heavy work pressure, troubles and obstacles.
15) Always open your bedroom windows at least once 20 minutes a day to allow fresh chi to come in, we do this so that it allows fresh new chi from outside to come into your bedroom, if not you will be sleeping with stale chi every night.

For more information, visit for details. 

Spring Cleaning - How to Incorporate Feng Shui into your Life.

Have you ever wondered if there is a relationship between layout or design of your home and your life? The old Chinese art called Feng Shui was created thousands of years ago and meant to improve people’s lives by creating the right energy flow at home. Chinese people used laws of astronomy and geography and applied them to the orientation of rooms and objects in the house in order to improve their lives.

Feng Shui is a whole art and can be taught for days and days. In this blog we would love to talk about some basics of it. Making your home look cozy is not an easy thing to do and Rodika Thi, specialist in Feng Shui has a few recommendations:

Clear out your clutter! Try to get rid of everything you do not love in your house. It is, mentally and emotionally a very challenging process. Clutter clearing is a time-and energy-consuming process. Some people compare it to therapy as it helps you feel better.

It is essential to have Good Quality Air and Good Quality Light in your house. These two elements are in charge of good Feng Shui energy, called Chi, in your home. Try to open the windows daily for 10-20 minutes. It will let fresh new energy to come in to your house. Allow as much natural light as possible into your home, and consider using full-spectrum lights.
The most interesting part of Feng Shui is to define the Ba Gua, or the Feng Shui energy map of your house. In order to define it you shall use one of the two main Feng Shui methods - the compass or the BTB grid. Ba Gua is used to find out which part of your home correlates with a particular situation in your life. A compass will determine 9 geographical directions your home (North, North-East, East, South-East, South, South-West, West, North-West, and the center of your house). Every direction will correspond to a certain part of your life.

SE -Finances, Prosperity
S- Fame, Reputation
SW- Relationships, Love
W- Children/Creativity,
NW – Helpful People, Blessing, Travel
N- Career,
NE- Knowledge, Wisdom and Spirituality
E- Family
Center - Physical Health

For more information, visit for details. 

Monday, February 28, 2011

More Ideas about Resolutions and Goals

How are your New Year’s resolutions coming along? Are you finding it difficult to change, despite resolving to make it finally happen this year?

When reading Psychology Today, this month, I came across a very interesting article about training your brain to help you reach your goals without having to use sheer willpower.

The crux of this article was social psychologist and author, Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. remarks that using the ‘if-then’ technique can be incredibly useful (and 2-3 times more powerful) for “resisting temptation and building good habits”. The technique basically entails making a specific if-then statement about your goal. So, if your goal is to stop eating after 8pm, the revised goal would be: IF it is after 8pm, THEN I will not eat any more food. Or, if your goal is to stop leaving dishes in the sink, your revised goal would be: If I see dishes in the sink, THEN I will wash them immediately before leaving the kitchen.

The reason this technique is so useful is because your brain is biologically programmed to determine behavior from your surroundings. Your brain is always automatically scanning your surroundings for “if” situations, in order to help you know what to do next. So, using an if-then statement creates a link or a bond between the cue (seeing dishes) and the behavior (washing the dishes). This link can become automatic, so you will unconsciously have already told your body what to do in the given situation, which means you will use less conscious will power to go ahead and do the activity. In other words, the dishes will get done and you will decrease your eating after 8pm.

As I mentioned last month, it is important to be gentle with yourself and know that it takes time to get used to any new habit. No one is perfect and making changes often happens incrementally. There will be ups and downs. If you make your goals into if-then statements, your brain can do some of the hard work for you.

This is one more trick in your tool bag of living the life you want. In turn, you will find you can make the changes you want to make for 2011 and for many years to come.

For more information, visit for details. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Happy New Year – A Few Words on Resolutions

Happy New Year to all!
Did you make some resolutions this year?
Are you having trouble sticking to them now that a month has passed?

There is one secret that will help you reach your goals, and it might be easier than you think.

Perhaps you resolved to work out and lose weight this year. Or you decided to spend more time with family and friends. Have you decided this is the year you will quit smoking, drinking, or overspending?

These are great goals – sometimes they might seem too great. Sometimes we make really big goals because we want to make big changes. The secret to sticking with your resolutions is breaking them down into manageable steps.

If you are determined to lose weight this year, that can be overwhelming, which can cause stress, which can cause you to over eat or give up on exercise. Instead let’s consider breaking this resolution down into smaller steps. For example:

Goal: To lose 15 pounds.
Possible Steps:
  • Plan to lose about one pound each month – this is a reachable goal.
  • Get on track with exercise – plan to work out between one and three times per week for between 20 and 60 minutes. Be specific. If you aren’t sure about how to exercise, joins a gym, ask a friend or hire a trainer.
  • Change your Eating – Keep a journal of what you eat for a week, and then take a look at it. Are you eating late at night? Are you making healthy choices? Make some adjustments as needed to include plenty of water, fruits and vegetables. If you need help, consult with a nutritionist.
  • Get a friend or co-worker to join your plan so you have someone to be accountable to.
  • Make a checklist of healthy living activities (Ate Fruit, Drank Water, Exercised etc.) and put it on your fridge – then you can check it off each day and at the end of the week, reward yourself (bubble bath, massage, lunch out with a friend).

Most of all, be gentle with yourself. No one is perfect and this is a journey. There will be ups and downs. If you make your goals specific, small, obtainable and focused, you will find you are better able to stick with those resolutions for 2011 and for many years to come.

I would love to hear from you! Please write in with any comments or questions about how to keep or maintain new years or any kind of resolution. All information will remain confidential if emailed to Or for more information, go to Thanks for checking in!

Take Good Care,
Amy L. Hooper, LGSW, CEAP
Director, Another Look at Healing, LLC