Sanity Savers and More...
March 2006


A note of thanks to those of you who responded to last month's newsletter about relationships. I really do value your feedback.

My comments this month reflect what you have shared with me concerning utilizing your time well and nurturing yourself in nature.

Please pass along this newsletter to your friends, loved ones and colleagues by clicking Send to a Friend button below.

Wishing you health, peace and balance.


In this issue
    Savor Your Time
  • Happening in March
  • TIPS
    Be in Nature
  • A Thought

    Savor Your Time

    Are We Savoring Life?
    The word multi-tasking never existed 30 years ago but everyone nowadays seems to be talking about it and doing it. We’re all in a hurry trying to make every minute count as we over-schedule our calendars, appointment books, and PDAs. Are we concentrating on the end result too much rather than “engaging” the process? Is our on-the-go lifestyle misusing and abusing our precious time so we forget the value and meaning of “enjoying life”? Why are we letting work, tasks and chores consume our every minute rather than taking time for ourselves and savoring life?

    Ask Tough Questions
    By asking some tough questions you can craft a life that you deeply embrace rather than letting it whiz by. What do you REALLY want for yourself and your family? If there’s a problem, can you clearly define it and foresee realistic solutions? Are you truly fulfilled when you obtain the things you want? What would it take for you to be satisfied with what you have now? What can you do to show appreciation to whom and what are in your life?

    With an understanding and awareness of what is important to you and your loved ones, you can stop letting life pass you by and get down to “living.”

    Here are some Sanity Savers to get you on track:

    1. Recognize the Richness of Each Day – Little miracles happen each and every day and if we are open to them, they’ll pop up everywhere. It’s all in our perception. Even mundane tasks can be turned into opportunities. Instead of reluctantly paying the bills each month, use it as lessons in appreciation (you have the funds to pay for what you use) and budgeting (feel good that you have a plan for paying off your debt.) When it’s your turn to drive the car pool, enjoy the time with your kids and their friends and learn what’s going on in their lives by listening to how they converse with one another. A warm greeting, a sunny day, a kind word and your favorite song on the radio are all gifts to savor.
    2. Find the Lesson in Each Day – Life is the school we each attend every day of the week; find the lesson in everything you do and experience. When something goes wrong, use it as a stepping stone to something deeper. Every situation has the potential to help us understand ourselves in relation to the world and those in it. Look at “accidents” and “mistakes” as experiences from which to learn. Likely you will one day, be in a similar situation or you will be in the position to help someone else who is experiencing the same thing.
    3. Trust Your Inner Voice – As you go through your day, be “present” and aware of your internal responses. Ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this way?” “Is this important?” and “What’s happening?” By constantly checking in with yourself, you exercise your intuitive “muscle” and can develop a reliance on it for decision making. Remember to pay attention to your own “inner voice” and not rely solely on other’s opinions or perceptions. What you should be doing and what is expected of you may or may not be compatible. Only you will know and can take steps to do things that feel right for YOU.
    4. Be Happy with Baby Steps – Remember the cliché “Rome wasn’t built in a day?” Take one step at a time and be patient with yourself and others. Sometimes you may take one step back which can provide a necessary and valuable lesson so you can take two forward in the future.
    5. Learn to “Be” instead of “Do” –Feel as well as think. Seek your balance by taking the time to be in the moment instead of merely concentrating on the end result. Commend yourself and relish the goals already met instead of only focusing on those not yet attained. Some of your best insights or accomplishments may be unexpected and never even make it to your “To Do” list.
    6. Commemorate Your “Living” Time – Focus on your feelings and keep a daily journal of your thoughts. Stay away from a life dominated by deadlines and schedules. Give yourself a gift and from time to time, forget the day, month or year by removing your watch. See what it is like to be “free” from time.
    7. Be Grateful – Be thankful for every person, place or situation you encounter. Be sure to express your gratitude to others and put words of thanks into your daily repertoire. As we age, time becomes more precious; be grateful you have time to live your life.
    8. Set a Positive Theme for Each Day – No matter what you are doing, you can start and end each day on a good note by concentrating on what you will (or did) encounter and what you've learned. Even when life throws you great challenges, find ways to understand the underlying meaning in what appears to be so “negative”. All of life is about change,flow,and balance. Some of us do better than others at trusting that there are “silver linings” hiding under dark clouds.

    Happening in March

    TODAY Show
    Dates and times of upcoming segments to be posted on Dr. Dale's website.

    Naomi's New Morning (Naomi Judd)
    The Hallmark Channel
    Date and time to be announced on Dr. Dale's website.

    92nd Street Y (NYC)
    March 15, Wed., 7:00 - 9:00pm
    Getting Older With Grace and Style:
    Looking Good Feeling Good

    Be in Nature

    I recently visited a friend who is extremely ill and is in the hospital. Fortunately her bed was next to a window and although there was a building right next door, she could see the sky. She said that everyday, when she woke up, she needed to see the sky to remind her of the vastness of the universe and that her spirit would soon be free.

    Nature Helps Us Relax
    Often what I do is help people relax and discover a place of calm and serenity within themselves. One very effective way to accomplish this is to visualize bucolic scenes from nature. As my friend experiences, it is the feeling of freedom that we get from nature that allows us to let go of our stress and worries if only for a few moments. Each of us is able to internalize the positive aspects of nature and go to that peaceful place in our head. But there is nothing like the real thing.

    Nature Heals
    Whether you need to “get away”, “be alone”, “regain your footing”, “see a different perspective”, “recharge your batteries”, or “express your feelings” there is nothing that comes close to the healing power of being in nature. If you are trying to figure out a solution to a problem, being in nature can help. Relax, challenge, restore, learn, gain perspective and receive comfort, support, inspiration and motivation. Even if you are not the “outdoor type” give it a try. Nature nourishes your soul.

    Where to Start?
    A walk in the park. A hike through the woods or sitting on a rock at sunset at the beach. Be quiet and allow yourself to be receptive. Be open. Open to what? To the sounds, the sights, the smells, the textures all around you. Sometimes, when you are dealing with a particularly troubling issue, ask a question and then just observe what comes to you as you notice (really notice) what is in front of you. Time means something different in nature. Sometimes it stands still while other times it is fleeting. Notice plants and trees that take years to grow. Pay attention to flowers or butterflies that are only around for days.

    TIPS for Engaging with and in Nature:

    • Connect with Nature Every Day - Not just watching from your window. Go into a natural setting. A park, riverside, mountain, lake shore, beach. Be in fresh air and pay attention to the sky.
    • Engage All of Your Senses - See, hear, taste, smell, and taste. Walk barefoot in fresh cut grass, along a sandy beach, on stepping stones. See what if feels like to become grounded and connect to the earth. Feel, and listen to the wind. Focus on subtle changes as if you are looking through a camera lens. REALLY look. Notice the variations of the shades of green in the forest, the hues of blue in the sky. Observe both the majestic and the minute.
    • Know Your Place - Be in awe of the trees, the plants, the rock formations. See how nature portrays the cycles of life and death. We plant, harvest and then replant. Experience the withering of winter and the rebirth of spring.
    • Turn Off the “Plugged in World” – Concentrate on the silence as well as the sounds of the natural world. Listen for the rhythms of the wind, birds’ songs, water splashing on rocks and the sounds of rustling leaves.
    • Appreciate the Seasonal Changes – The ultimate balancing act is performed by Mother Nature. She tries to stay in balance no matter what is thrown her way (quite literally as people continue to pollute). Learn from her. When you are confronted by many situations, how can you be resilient and still notice where the sun shines? Study, learn, and be with nature.

    Also Use Nature Metaphors
    Visualize your life as a flowing river. What can you learn? Is it rushing or trickling? Are there paths that have been forged due to the constancy of the same flow or are there new paths that have formed because of a storm or a fallen tree? What obstructions interrupt the flow? What obstructions have interrupted your flow? Is the river dammed or has it created a new stream?

    OR put yourself in the forest. If you are saddened over losses and feel adrift, allow the trees to embrace you with their strength, their power, and their roots. There is life; constant, regenerative life. Learn what you need to do to restore your own power and recharge your life while keeping the memory of the loss within you.

    OR walk up a mountain. Keep your eye on the summit. Remember the value of stopping and looking around to notice how far you have come on your journey. Bring enough supplies so you maintain yourself along the way. Stop to rest and commend yourself for your resilience. Shift your pace; adapt your clothing as you feel you must. Approach the mountain with respect. It is your partner in your climb.

    Nature Maintains Your Balance
    Some paths are open, sunny and welcoming. Others are shaded and somewhat scary. Look carefully underneath the shadows and see what grows. Realize that even in the darkest places there is life. What do you need to do or say to yourself along your own path to keep your inner strength and fortitude? Life is filled with the dark and the light. Appreciation of the balance is what allows us to keep balance in our daily lives.

    A Thought

    When a man knows the solitude of silence, and feels the joy of quietness, he is then free from fear and he feels the joy of the dharma.


    DALE V. ATKINS Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist, lecturer and media commentator who appears regularly on the Today show.

    She has more than twenty- five years of experience as a relationship expert, focusing on families, couples, parenting, aging well and stress management.

    Dr. Atkins is the author and/or co-editor of several books including:

  • Sisters
  • From the Heart:
    Men and Women Write Their Private Thoughts about their Private Lives
  • Families and their Hearing-Impaired Children
  • I'm OK, You're My Parents
    How to Overcome Guilt, Let Go of Anger and Create a Relationship that Works
  • and her latest book

  • Wedding Sanity Savers
    How to Handle the Stickiest Dilemmas, Scrapes and Questions that Arise on the Road to Your Perfect Day
  • Find out more....
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