In a recent Linked In Post and in an interview with The 32789, a Winter Park-based newsletter, I shared shocking statistics about rates of stress – and several strategies to help you deal more effectively with it. Click the link above for article – or keep reading below. I hope you’ll find comfort in knowing you are not alone and ways to help mitigate your stress.

If you’ve found yourself worrying more, feeling extra irritable or your anxiety level is up, you’re not alone. More than a quarter of U.S. adults say they’re so stressed they can’t function, according to a late 2022 Harris Poll. And a 2023 report from the American Institute of Stress showed that negative impacts of stress included:

·     94% of workers report feeling stress at work.
·     77% report stress affects their physical health.
·     73% report stress impacts their mental health.

The unusual combination of factors in our post-pandemic America (mass shootings, war, political upheaval, the omnipresence of social media, etc.) led the APA (American Psychological Association) to issue a warning: “We are facing a national mental health crisis that could yield serious health and social consequences for years to come.” As a therapist, I am seeing this already. People who have coped well, folks who never had anxiety or depression, are buckling under the weight of anxiety and uncertainty.

While there is no magic pill or quick fix, we can all step up our mental health-care prevention routines. Just as we floss our teeth and try to eat right, we need to attend to our mental health care and to that of our children. What is beneficial for adults (exercise, human connections, meditation, disconnection from devices, more sleep, etc.) is great for kids of all ages too. Fortunately, there are many evidence-based practices that help us cope, build resilience and reduce stress — and they don’t necessarily require medication.

In a recent interview with #The32789, a Winter Park-based newsletter, I offered several self-care strategies. These are helpful not just in May, Mental Health Awareness Month, but every month – every day actually. And if it all becomes too much, professional help is available. We have great therapists in Central Florida and with tele-health services abounding, you needn’t even leave home.

Stress is inevitable. Modern life has never been more challenging but there is much we can do to prevent burn out – or worse. As one of my favorite aphorisms states: We can’t stop the waves, but we can learn to surf.

Join me for a free one-hour class on Wed. Mar. 22 from 6-7 pm to explore a topic that benefits all of us – and is gaining greater acceptance – because it works. There is abundant research to show that people who are more self-compassionate have greater health, better relationships and more resilience to life’s stressors. This is not simply using positive affirmations or pollyanna thinking, in part it is learning to relate to and treat ourselves as kindly as we would a good friend.
I’ll share evidence-based strategies to help you combat negative chatter and unhelpful self-criticism. You’ll learn ways to catch and curb harmful self-talk and faulty cognitive distortions such as  “catastrophizing”, fortune-telling, overgeneralization, and all or nothing thinking, etc. You will leave the class equipped with information you can begin using immediately.

And, if you haven’t had a chance to visit the beautiful Center for Health and Wellbeing, you’re in for a treat. The serene setting offers free, easy parking and an on-site cafe if you wish to get a smoothie or a snack before class starts (food and drink welcome in the class too). I look forward to seeing you and hopefully to helping you on your journey toward greater wellbeing.

The workshop is hosted by the Winter Park Health Foundation. Click here to register

Participants are encouraged to bring a notebook or journal for notes. A handout will also be provided.

Join me for a free one-hour class where I’ll share tactics and strategies to help you manage your boundaries. Everyone has a built-in alarm system that tells us when our boundaries are being crossed. If someone gets too close physically, you take a step back. But what about your emotional boundaries? If someone asks you to do something you’re not comfortable with, does your alarm still sound? Sometimes through conditioning including family or social pressures, that alarm — like a muscle — can grow weak or faint. You may struggle to even hear it, or not know how to respond. I’ll share specific strategies to help you hear your alarm and navigate tricky boundaries. It is isn’t easy and it’s never one and done. But, you can make steady progress to improve communications, relationships and most of all – your wellbeing.  Specifically, you will…

  • Learn to identify ways your body tells you a boundary has been crossed
  • Learn strategies to shut down boundary crossers before they cross again
  • Discover what your priorities have to do with boundaries and gain more clarity and energy

The FREE session is hosted by The Center for Health and Wellbeing. Tuesday September 27 at 11:30 am – 12:30 pm. Here is the link to learn more and register.


If the unrelenting stress of COVID and modern life have you in need of a reboot, I hope you’ll join me for this free, evidence-based workshop. Incorporating key aspects of well-being, I’ll guide you through the 5-week program and offer support to achieve a “kickstart” to a healthier, happier 2022. Each session is one hour and offered via Zoom. Click here to learn more and register. The series is sponsored by The Center for Health and Wellbeing. Hope to see you there. If you have questions, please email me at

There was probably a time you welcomed invitations to do things, go places, serve on boards or volunteer. But life has become, what’s the word…NUTTY! None of us are looking for one more thing to do. Most are trying to figure out how to do less and how to say NO!

Next time you’re asked or invited to do something you don’t want to do…STOP and try this:

  1. If you instantly feel “Nooooo!” in your bones, or even resentment, overwhelm or dread – PAUSE. Your body is signaling to you. Breathe deeply and listen. Ask yourself what is it saying? (Your body always knows.)
  2. Put space between the request and your answer. Make it a habit to say, “I have to check my calendar,” or “I need to see if I can take this on right now”. (When you get back to them, they may have already found another volunteer!)
  3. Or, if you’re certain you don’t want to do XYZ, experiment with saying NO. Or, no thank you, if you must. (The world will not end. Honestly, you’ll see.)
  4. If the request is from your boss or is an ongoing commitment (board, child’s team, church…) and you feel compelled to say yes, attempt to negotiate deadlines or other aspects of the request. If possible, say: “I’d like to do this, but realistically, here’s what I can do in the time frame,” or, “Yes, but I’ll need some additional resources (more staff, volunteers, budget…).”

Chronic stress from over-commitment coupled with the pandemic is wreaking havoc on many women’s lives and health. Honor your energy, time and well-being. if you’re already over-extended, exhausted or simply don’t want to do (whatever), you have the right to say NO. Your health may depend on it. Extreme times call for extreme self-care.

Check out this month’s Orange Appeal Magazine – my article is on p. 28


I love Orange Appeal Magazine because every issue offers a visual feast plus inspiring stories of local women, beautiful layouts and information about our community. I’m thrilled to contribute and hope you’ll  enjoy my piece this month and be reminded…You’re OK just as you are. Enjoy! Orange Appeal on p. 28.  

Take a Day of “I’m OKAY” 

Doesn’t it seem nearly every minute of every day is spent striving to ACHIEVE something? We’re working out to be thinner or fitter; listening to a podcast to be smarter or more conversant; eating to be healthier or to reduce cholesterol; and on and on. We even sleep to beat exhaustion. No wonder, right?

What if you spent a day just being? Reading for pleasure, sleeping in, sitting and looking out a window. Dreaming. And not waiting for a beach vacation to do it. Whatever is next on your to-achieve list can probably wait. Because what if your inner wise self is trying to speak to you and you can’t hear it because you’re running too fast?

Try this – slow down and simply walk. Feel the sun on your face and listen to birds. Don’t walk to count steps or to achieve a daily exercise goal. Just walk (my favorite stress reliever) because it’s pleasurable. And unplugged, mindful walking is meditative and restorative to weary souls like ours. Especially after a long season of COVID.

We know unplugging and un-doing is harder than it sounds. Families, bosses, your over-achieving tendencies may try to snap you back to your to-do list. So maybe ease into it for an hour or an afternoon. Mark your calendar for nothing at all. Down time. If you’re tired, nap. If you’re feeling blue, watch Nate Bargatze on Netflix. Guaranteed laughs. If you’re lonely, call a friend. Maybe you can walk together.

And see if you can be still long enough to let the noise settle. To remember who you are and what YOUR dreams are. What you really LOVE to do when you’re not doing all those things you “must”.  House cleaning can wait. The kids won’t starve and you’ll survive if you don’t cook a healthy meal tonight. Give yourself a break. It’s been a hard year. Take a day or an hour to breathe, dream and just be. And say to yourself, I am okay, just as I am.



Spoiler Alert: This is not paint, it’s sunscreen from the time Spence swam 12 miles around Key West. I don’t have a paint picture but this gives you a pretty good idea…

Years ago we had started remodeling, little by little, our little block house, with a Florida pool in Winter Park. We had done a lot of the work ourselves and by “we”, I mean my handy husband, Spence.

I did help a little and to prove it, I have a small scar on the back of my right hand. I got it prying a nail out of a stud with the back of a claw hammer. When it released unexpectedly, with full force, the back of my hand was thrust onto a nail, a nail missing its head. It was like getting impaled on a fat straight pin, straight into the thin skin on the back of my boney hand, right where a big vein runs near the surface. Blood came gushing out as I yelped in pain. But really, what’s a remodel till someone goes to the emergency room?

So, I “helped” a little but Spence really did most of the work.  My job consisted primarily of picking paint colors, tile, fixtures, and “supervising” Spence, something he just loves for me to do.

Finally, as we were coming to the end of the multi-year project, the last room was almost complete. The trim just needed to be painted but days went by as Spence, who works long hours for a mechanical contractor, kept putting it off. Finally, I told him I’d just do it.

“Spence, I know you don’t think I’m a good painter, but I will take my time.  I’ll wear my glasses and use that criss-cross method you showed me. You won’t have to re-do it,” I said.

He listened and protested, but I was resolute. Reluctantly he agreed.

So, I painted the trim and the world didn’t end.  I actually did a pretty good job he admitted.  The room looked great but I didn’t quite finish so he came home the next night and was going to take it the last mile. I left him to paint and headed to the gym. About an hour and a half later, I came home and Spence greeted me in the dark outside the garage door with a quick kiss and simply said:

“When you paint, make sure you put the lid on tightly when you finish.”

His inflection was calm and pleasant.  He said nothing else and walked away. Spence is particular about his tools, about doing projects methodically (after reading all the directions, something I almost never, okay never, do) and about taking good care of materials like paint and paint brushes. So, I just thought I hadn’t capped the lid tightly and the paint would have dried out.  No big deal.

So, cheerfully, I said, “Okay.”

I went in the house and fed our three cats their dinner.  I remembered I wanted to ask Spence something, so I walked out to the garage, and it was then that I noticed the paint. All the paint. All over the floor. All over Spence.

“What happened?!” I said.  And then it dawned on me. Oh my.

Spence was not wearing a shirt, but he was wearing the remnants of about half of a gallon of white paint, all over his chest and shorts. It was all over the garage floor, smears of white paint, that he had clearly tried to wipe up.

I couldn’t help it.  I burst out laughing.

“I’m so sorry!  How could you not have yelled at me?  I would have been furious and had a few choice words for you if you…” I burst into inappropriate, nervous laughter again.

I had not shut the lid tightly so when he went to shake it up (Thanks, Taylor Swift), it went EVERYWHERE.

He just smiled that Zen, knowing smile, like, “you’re my little cross to bear.”

Calm. Grown up. Understated. Less is always more. That’s Spence.  I won’t do that again. Okay, we both know I probably will.

Knowing your partner well, accepting and forgiving their shortcomings and being able to laugh at their (or our) frustrating traits are all important aspects for growing and maintaining successful, happy relationships. May yours have all of those things (especially the laughter!) – and more.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Did you know that at any given moment, there’s a 50% chance you (and I) are not really “here”?

That is, we may have drifted off mentally, our attention getting hijacked by thoughts that are tied to stress, perceptions of threat or our lousy mood, “the kryptonite” for our attention, this according to neuroscientist and University of Miami associate professor, Amishi Jha.

In the Winter 2020 issue of Mindful magazine, Jha describes the ways in which our attention is (further) diminished by what many are calling “COVID brain”, the stressed-out state most of us are feeling due to prolonged and chronic stress resulting from the pandemic. Our attention, along with our general mental health, is another casualty in the pandemic.

The acronym “VUCA”, which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity, pretty well describes our state of being with the pandemic, Jha reports and these high-stress, high-demand scenarios can rapidly degrade our capacity to pay attention.

And imagine if you didn’t have an efficient method to screen out the overwhelming stimuli coming into your brain like the proverbial firehose: politics, hurricanes, fires, kidnapping plots, racial unrest, home-schooling, COVID… Our brains are on such overload, our attention is flagging and Jha and her researchers assure us, it’s not our fault. We’re all overwhelmed because our brains are not designed for this.

I highly recommend the article and the key solution they recommend as the antidote to our fractured, stretched-thin attention – mindfulness. Like so many challenges we face, mental and physical, practicing mindfulness helps us develop greater present moment awareness which in turn allows us to “catch” ourselves as we start to veer off into dark, unhealthy mental territory.

With greater mindfulness, we can learn to catch our thinking before we’ve run into the mental ditch of “catastrophizing”, ruminating or other negative thinking patterns, that have us imagining the worst outcomes. There are many online courses for mindfulness training, plus podcasts, apps like CALM and Headspace and more if you’re new to mindfulness.

Jha’s research team has found that there are measurable benefits from a mindfulness practice of even just 12 minutes a day, 3 – 5 days a week. If you want a really deep dive, consider the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training, which was developed and popularized by Jon Kabat Zinn in the 80s and has steadily been gaining credibility and evidence that practicing mindfulness offers incomparable benefits to body and mind.

Now, if your attention drifted off while reading this, I hope you’ll read it again, or better yet, read the full article from Mindful Magazine. It’s a great resource for your mindfulness journey.

As a white counselor, I have long considered myself an ally of those historically marginalized in our culture – especially Black, Latino, Gay, etc., but this excerpt from author DeRay Mckesson, made me stop and consider the difference between an ally and an accomplice. As I strive to do and be better, I hope you will join me in whatever small or large ways to make the world safer and more just for ALL. In this case, I hope I am found guilty of being an accomplice.

“I have grown tired of the notion of an ally. I prefer the language of an “accomplice.” An ally loves you from a distance. An accomplice loves you up close. We need allies to make the transition to accomplices. An ally is someone who has unpacked her personal privilege but hasn’t yet made the link to institutional issues and is not willing to risk anything besides her mental comfort. An accomplice rolls up her sleeves and engages in the work that is beyond her. She’ll march in the streets, yes. But an accomplice also faces her own participation in whiteness, acknowledges it, and then looks beyond that personal acknowledgment to identify how her awareness can be applied to changing the systems and mindsets that prop up the system.”
― DeRay Mckesson, On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope

Thanks to Terricks Noah for sharing their work on Unsplash – photo of beautiful boy.

Growing up, I dreamed of being a ballerina, a marine biologist, a globe-trotting anthropologist, but never about being a middle-school teacher. But we all awoke last week, and presto, we are teachers (as well as therapists, bankers, architects, nurses, artists, caregivers…).

With or without school-aged kids, these are incredibly stressful times for Americans, many of whom are working from home (if they still have jobs). We are all in this infected boat together – rowing to keep our jobs, health, connection, safety, financial security – and sanity.

How we navigate these choppy waters, teaches our bosses, co-workers, kids, and ourselves a lot about who we are. We can escalate the fear and anxiety or we can tamp it down with evidence-based strategies.

As a mental health counselor, I am working hard to employ these strategies in my own life. When I do and faithfully, they work. I feel better, calmer and more equipped to survive – maybe even to thrive.

Let me add, this crisis happened so quickly, many of us are still shaking our heads, thinking ‘wake up’. This can’t be real. Or we’re in denial as to how real it is. Or we’re feeling overwhelmed, depressed, afraid… All of this is normal. Be gentle with yourself. Keep breathing deeply and employ these strategies – and if the pressure or wakeful nights or dark thoughts become too much, help is available. I’ve included some resources at the end. Be well.

7 Strategies for Staying Physically & Mentally Well

  1. Meditate DailyStart the day with five minutes of quiet reflection (10 or more is better). Just sit and breathe with your eyes closed and try to focus on your breath (or the hum of the refrigerator). Just let it all be. (If you’re new to meditation, there are many apps to get you started, Headspace, Aura and my personal favorite, CALM. On Calm, I highly recommend the 30-day “How to Meditate” by Jeff Warren. (Great for teens too.)
  2. Move – Get OutsideResearch shows that even a 10-minute walk in nature reduces stress as does moving – biking, running, gardening. Moving releases endorphins and reduces stress hormones. And now there are many Yoga, Zumba, Barre and other fitness classes being offered online. This is one of the most important ways to improve your mental AND physical health. Keep moving!
  3. Connect – Zoom, Facetime, Call With social distancing, we have a greater need than ever to connect. (Real connections – not Facebook browsing.) There is data to suggest that “loneliness is the new smoking”, that is, isolation can have health consequences as grave as those of smoking. So if you’re not enjoying group chats with folks sharing hilarious memes, consider creating one . One of my groups has regular Zoom Happy Hours. (Zoom is the most downloaded App in recent weeks.)
  4. LAUGH! – Like a magic elixir, laughter makes us us feel safer and more relaxed. It floods our bodies and brains with good chemicals that wash or psyches clean – if only for the moment. No, laughter doesn’t solve problems, but it gives us a boost, a break, a moment to collect ourselves and be in a more resourceful state to tackle what lies ahead. Think about what makes you laugh – movies, memes, books, cat or dog videos? Binge watch and see if you don’t feel better. For more, check out this excellent article.
  5. Sleep – Sleep is foundational to our physical and mental health. If we don’t get enough or high-quality sleep, everything suffers and depresses our immune systems, putting us at increased risk for illness, including diabetes, obesity, dementia, poor concentration, irritability, etc. Fitbits, Apple Watches and many “smart devices” can help track and log sleep (paper works too). Tracking may confirm what you’ve suspected – you’re not getting sufficient sleep. If so, here’s a good resource about better sleep hygiene.
  6. Limit TV and Social Media Like chain smoking, constant news watching or internet/social media surfing is bad for us. But in the early days of this crisis, we were all like chain smokers, watching breaking news reports one after another. Hopefully you’re down to a few exposures a day. Get what you need and turn it off. Leaving the TV on continuously keeps you in a state of hyper-arousal over things for which you have little to no control. Turn it off, put the phone on silent and only check in a few times a day (and not right before bedtime).
  7. Focus on what You can Control – Let the Rest Go. Many successful, good people are control freaks. (I might or might not be a recovering one.) I know times like these get control freaks going, working overtime. Right now, pretty much everything is out of our control. But remember, no matter how much energy and time we spend wishing for this to be different, it is what it is. The sooner we accept and start from there, the better equipped we’ll be to deal with the reality of this, or any, situation. This Inc. article on Control is excellent, as is the often-cited “Serenity Prayer” used in 12-step programs, paraphrased here, which perhaps says it best:May we accept the things we cannot change, have the courage to change the things we can, and possess the wisdom to know the difference.Final Note: If the stress becomes overwhelming, there are local and national resources to help you navigate – emotionally and financially. Below are two good ones.National Suicide Prevention Hotline – call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK), to talk with trained counselors if you are having thoughts of suicide, feeling depressed or just need someone to talk to. It’s free and available 24 hours a day.

    2-1-1 – United Way’s helpline offers trained counselors who can assist with many needs from rent and utility assistance to tax prep, childcare and more. (Like 4-1-1, simply dial 2-1-1.)

© Copyright - Walk Talk Coaching & Counseling