Sanity Savers and More...
May 2006

Hot off the press! My new e-Newsletter and new Website.

Spring is a time to welcome in a fresh outlook on life as everything starts coming alive in nature. It's also a great time to launch my new Sanity Savers e-Newsletter and Website at www.drdaleatkins.com with a fresh updated look.

I'd love to know your feedback on these new changes so feel free to drop me an email at dale@drdaleatkins.com.

This time of the year is also filled with lots of gatherings and celebrations. I hope you enjoy my Sanity Saver of the month, Celebrate and Honor Others as well as tips on how to create some celebrations of your own in Rituals are Powerful.

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
  • Sanity Savers
    Celebrate and Honor Others
  • Happenings
  • TIPS
    Rituals are Powerful
  • Sanity Savers
    A Good Daily Habit
  • A Thought

  • Sanity Savers
    Celebrate and Honor Others

    It's the Season for Celebrations
    May and June are the months of many celebrations: weddings, graduations, christenings, confirmations, showers, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. For many of us leading busy lives, these joyous events can be difficult to schedule and become tedious to attend. If family or friends’ relationships are strained, attending one of these events can be even more challenging. How can we honestly be there for others when we have so much going on in our own lives? And how can we honor others when there may be issues between us and with some of the other “players” that add to the perceived friction?

    "Being There"
    When you are there for others, it means you care and value your relationship with that person. Making the effort to attend functions and events important to a family member, friend or colleague acknowledges your ongoing relationship and the respect you feel for them. But, if you’re there in body only and not in spirit are you really supporting that person and sending an encouraging and loving message?

    Maybe It's Time to Reevaluate
    If you hear yourself say, “I wish I didn’t have to go” or “I don’t have time for this,” maybe it’s time to re- evaluate your relationship with the person being honored. It may be that you need to do a bit of soul searching, considering what is the best way you can attend, while staying centered and true to yourself. You may need to establish limits on what will be enough and what will be beyond the call of duty. An important consideration as you evaluate the relationship is how much of YOU are you prepared to give?

    Do I Want to "Be There"
    Ask yourself in what ways are these people important to you, are they worth the energy, and can you share in their enthusiasm (which is often a life passage)? Establish in your own mind and heart what is your place in their life and what is their place in your life (they are often not the same). If you are comfortable with any disparity then you should attend without any preconceived notions or expectations.

    Your "Being There" Will Be Felt
    Before going, you can increase your energy and really “be there” for that person. They will feel this gift emanating from you. If you cannot do this, maybe you should consider whether this relationship is worth holding on to. When people know you sincerely care, your heart felt warmth is felt and they will be able to receive the message that they are important and have value in your life. With your more challenging relationships, when you reach out and make an effort to be fully present at their life milestones, you will gain from the experience even if it is difficult for them to acknowledge or express gratitude.

    Here are Sanity Savers to help you feel more festive when your next invitation arrives:

    • Stay focused – If you’re at a party, you’re already there. Why stay and have a mediocre time when you can put parameters on the situation, stay in that space and make the best of it? You have the ability to have a good time or not. As the old saying goes “Make the best of the situation.” Talk to people, let your hair down a bit, don’t expect to be taken care of by anyone else and you just might have fun dancing the night away.
    • View it as a mission – We attend other’s functions to celebrate with them. Of course, you have other things to do. Everyone does. In fact, each person at the function could be catching up on so many things instead of being there. Don’t forget the reason you’re present. Your mission is to support, love and share special moments with the person who is being honored. Stay true to that mission and you will likely have a good time.
    • Release negative feelings beforehand – If Mother’s Day isn’t easy for you, allow yourself to feel the sadness, disappointment and anger over your relationship before getting together with your mother. Maybe you can journal or have a conversation with the mirror to release negative tension. Also, try and think back on some endearing memories. Remember, this is her “day” and you can show your mom you really do truly care by respecting her and sharing in the moment. You are not likely to repair a lifetime of hurt at one meeting but you may be able to experience this day differently.
    • Go with support or go alone – Don’t go to an event that you already have misgivings about with someone who will make you feel even more uncomfortable. If the person you are with tends to complain or doesn’t want to be there, this will only disengage you further and you will likely be concerned about whether they are okay. That is unnecessary and frankly, too much pressure. Be with someone with whom you feel comfortable or go alone.


    TODAY Show
    Thursday, May 4th, 8:00 or 9:00 hour
    Sibling Birth Order & Risky Behavior
    Dates and times of more upcoming segments to be posted on Dr. Dale's website.

    Naomi's New Morning (Naomi Judd)
    The Hallmark Channel

  • Caregiving
  • Slowing Down

  • Dates and times to be announced on Dr. Dale's website.

    YAI - National Institute for People with Disabilities
    Monday, May 1st, 9:00am
    Keynote: Keeping Your Balance
    Crowne Plaza Manhattan Hotel, NYC

    The Power of Possibility: Balance and Sanity
    Saturday, May 19th: Keeping the Balance
    Saturday, May 20th: Getting Older with Grace and Style
    Canyon Ranch, Lenox, MA

    Coming in June:

    Self Image: A Work in Progress
    Thursday, June 8th, 1:30pm-3:30pm
    92nd Street Y, Makor Center, NYC

    Rituals are Powerful

    Rituals are important, helpful and powerful and they work. Performing a ritual is a small way of celebrating or honoring a bigger event in your life. The different phases of a ritual -- preparing, experiencing and closing – maps out the different phases that we all go through in our own lives and helps us transition energy surrounding an event into a positive flow.

    Rituals Come in Many Forms
    Whether you perform a healing ritual as you anticipate and approach a difficult treatment, ask for a blessing from a clergy person as you leave for an important journey, or eat the same “energy enhancing” breakfast as you prepare to give an important presentation, rituals can be encouraging, valuable, strengthening, reassuring and comforting. They serve to mark events in your life or gain insight into yourself and the meaning of an event or person and are especially useful when we dealing with change.

    “Life Brackets” for Beginnings and Endings
    People have been practicing cultural, tribal and religious rituals for thousands of years. Rituals can mark events, rites of passage, and relationships with ourselves, other people, animals, places, ideas or things and can help us as we deal with life’s uncertainties. Celebrating health after a particularly difficult series of treatment reminds us of where we are, where we were, and where we hope to go. Marking birthdays, anniversaries (of people’s connections as well as of deaths of those we love, moving into our homes, finishing a particular project) keep us connected to what has particular meaning for us.

    Here are some TIPS to incorporate rituals into your life:

    • Perform an Old Ritual or Design Your Own – Rituals are most effective if it’s one that has unique meaning to you. The whole point of performing a ritual is to feel something move within the center of your being. You know, your heart feels full, you get goose bumps on your arms or tears well in your eyes. If you don’t feel such a connection this particular life passages may be more difficult.
    • Incorporate “Everyday” Life Rituals - Morning coffee and reading the paper; walking the dog along a familiar path, calling a friend at the same time each week can be simple ways to ritualize a familiar pattern. When something happens to shake up our lives (illness, death, job loss), what helps keep our sanity and our balance is holding onto and maintaining our routines and rituals. Somehow, that makes us feel grounded and safer. Everyday routines can become rituals if you pay close attention to them and focus on the change you hope to experience as a result of the ritual.
    • Beginning and Ending Life Events - Rituals help us to deal with life’s challenges and can offer paths to unique insights. It is important when you perform a ritual that you suspend judgment and just allow yourself to “be” with the practice of the ritual. Rituals guide us through foggy times of our lives and can help to bring us clarity. Tearing up a letter into miniscule pieces from someone who has hurt you and since died can be a freeing way to relegate them to your past. Writing your fears on a piece of paper and lighting them on fire as you watch them burn to ash can be amazingly liberating. Rituals can be family oriented; reflect a long standing tradition such as a rite of passage (confirmation or a funeral) or it can be as personal as the naming of a child, the scattering a friend’s ashes.
    • Slow Down - You cannot perform a ritual at accelerated speed. By slowing the pace, you can think and feel in a way you were unable to before. Pay attention to the time, place and setting. Where and how are you going to do this? Be sure you are not going to be disturbed as you begin your process. Allow yourself time to do what you want to do and feel whatever comes.
    • Think About the Process - Why do you want to do this ritual? What do you intend to get from it? Your heart must be open to the experience. Ask yourself this question and jot down the answers. Through the ritual, allow yourself to gain a different perspective on a situation. Try to end the ritual with an awareness that you did what you felt you needed to do at this time.
    • Get Your Tools Around You - You may need scents, colors, materials from nature, art supplies. Collect whatever you need to “make” what you need to help you.
    • Keep it Simple - Simplicity is a key element of rituals. Rituals can be as simple as lighting a candle or filling a vase with flowers or thinking a special thought .You may find singing a tune from your childhood brings you back to a central point of comfort. Including cinnamon may remind you of early Sunday morning French toast smells of your childhood.

    Try this Ritual When Faced with a Decision
    Perform the YOGA “mountain” posture by firmly planting your feet on the ground, placing your hands at your side and standing tall. Visualize being a tree of your family – a family tree – where you are rooted to your ancestors both in the ground and in the heavens. Listen for guidance from those in your ancestry.

    Sanity Savers
    A Good Daily Habit

    Take a deep breath during various times of the day as you look at something beautiful. Or take that breath as you close your eyes and imagine a restful place.

    In that mode, respond to these questions:

    • What did I do today to realize my purpose in this world?
    • Did I extend myself beyond my immediate circle of responsibility?

    Breathing is a great way to relieve stress and find some inner reflection.

    Inspired by Michael Berg, Los Angeles, CA.

    A Thought

    Beware the barrenness of a busy life.


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

    She has more than twenty- five years of experience and focuses on living a balanced life, parenting, aging well, managing stress, life & work transitions, family connections and healthy relationships.

    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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