Respect for Our Protectors

A couple of weeks ago several young wise women in an eating disorder group opened my eyes to the degree of hopelessness that their generation seems to face. I don’t mean to say that they weren’t willing to fight the fight, because there they were showing up to “feel the feels” as they say. But rather to them it seemed that they could show up and do the work and this fight would only continue indefinitely with little to no promise of a silver lining. What I heard was a desire to find healing and getting no glimpse of it. And it’s true…in the “soft science” of therapy, there are no absolutes. I can’t make the promise. As every therapist knows, we all want the magic wand that will make everything better and none of us seem to have it.

The good news is that there are some really brilliant  approaches to treatment these days, and in therapy, semantics is everything. In a recent training I found myself with ever increasing hope for the hopeless. As I learned more about the different parts of ourselves and how they interact with one another I came to have a newfound respect for our defenses (e.g. avoidance, projection, etc). Oftentimes defenses can be pretty innocuous with only minor inconveniences to communication in relationships and may even resolve naturally on their own with a little bit of insight. On the other end of the continuum however, defenses can become so strong that they might appear to turn against us, even creating scenarios of life and death situations. And here’s where it gets tricky, because then it seems there’s a tendency to turn against our defenses at all costs and demonize them. But if we step back for a minute to take a look at where the defenses come from in the first place, most likely you will find a source of hurt and pain that needed to be protected.

These protectors show up when no one or nothing else has. Keep in mind that the source of pain is subject to individual perception – what may not seem particularly painful to some might be excruciating for others; it’s all about the felt experience. We all need protection in the face of overwhelm, otherwise how do we get through life at all? One of the first steps in this work as I’ve learned, is to have some respect for the mechanisms that stepped in to protect us in the first place. It doesn’t make sense after all, to simply bypass and condemn the rescuers that showed up when no one else was able. I suspect that there are more of us than not who are in need of this type of healing and in many ways it is a privilege to engage in this type of work (on both sides of the coin). My wish for those of you who are ready for the next step in the process of healing, is that it be performed, as much as possible, with precision and care, sensitivity and curiosity, and of course with kindness and respect.

“I didn’t ask for this role but I’ll play it” – one of my favorite lines from Frances McDormand’s protective mom character in the movie Almost Famous:

Parts of me and parts of you – a family dinner scene from Inside Out:

Copyright 2018 ©  Rachel Braun, All rights reserved.

Rachel Braun, ATR-BC  Art Therapist Philadelphia, PA

Specializing in art therapy groups for women who experience depression, anxiety and eating disorders. 

Food, Mood & Awareness – with free download

The more I learn about eating disorders, the clearer it becomes that food itself is rarely, if ever, the underlying main issue. It seems that more often than not eating patterns are somehow used to manage overwhelming emotions, and eventually habit sets in where eating becomes an equal part of the problem. And while there are varying approaches to treatment out there, I like to think that  most therapists are working towards the same goal – to help our clients find balance in everyday life with the ability to address and tend to emotional experiences in a healthy way. I love that there are so many apps available these days to help normalize eating behaviors and knowing that different approaches are helpful for different people, I thought I’d go ahead and put something out there myself. No, I shamefully admit that I have yet to become superwoman enough to devise my own app (jk) but I have decided to provide readers with a handout – the Food, Mood & Awareness Tracker – that you can print out and use as needed. My hope is that it will provide a visual for you over time – so you can see what your own behavior patterns are and how your actions affect your emotional experiences and possibly other aspects of your life as well. You can find the link for the handout below. But first, here’s how you use it:

The top section of the handout is in graph form to track your mood and energy level – use a blue dot to track your mood and a red dot to track your energy level. This is subjective input with 1 being the lowest, 10 the highest and 5 is average or neutral – it really just needs to make sense to you. For the greatest awareness, I suggest that you try tracking your mood before and after each meal and before and after each symptom use. I know this may sound a bit tedious, but you may learn a lot about your tendency toward certain behaviors. For energy level, probably tracking this 1-3 times a day would be enough.

The next section is food intake – be sure to create space for each meal, even if you don’t have one. Write down everything that you consume. And be sure to make note of any snacks, big or small.

Then there is symptom use – something that varies on an individual basis (restricting, binging, purging to name a few). These behaviors may or may not coincide with meal times. Don’t forget to include exercise if your team has determined that this is a form of purging for you.

The last section is where you outline significant events that take place. It might seem like a no-brainer to recognize that getting married, losing your job or a fight with a significant other may affect your mood. But to be fair, there are so many things we do while on auto pilot, that it just makes sense to jot them down anyway. I also strongly encourage you to take note of the things you do to care for others as well as the things you do for your own self-care.

I suggest that when you start using the FMA Tracker, you dedicate a page for each day, at least at the beginning. Maybe go for a full month of pages in this way, then if you like you can start using one page for a whole week – or not – whatever makes the most sense for you. I’m no psychic, but I suspect that over time this tool will help you identify possible triggers that may keep you in the habit of looking for a quick fix, and that in the long run the things that may be most helpful are those related to self-care. One caveat here: the FMA Tracker is intended to use in conjunction with a team effort (dietitian, therapist, psychiatrist, et al) – please don’t assume you can create lasting change all on your own. Try it for six months! I know this may sound like a long time, but when you consider the tenacity of eating disorders – sometimes ten, twenty, even forty or more years, six months is really just a drop in the bucket. I wish you all the best – let me know how it goes!

Click here for the Food, Mood & Awareness Tracker – free download!

Copyright 2018 ©  Rachel Braun, All rights reserved.

Rachel Braun, ATR-BC  Art Therapist Philadelphia, PA

Specializing in art therapy groups for women who experience depression, anxiety and eating disorders. 

Getting Beyond Apathy – Why it Matters

At the beginning of my art therapy groups I often remind members that many people stop creating artwork between the ages of 10-12 and that for this reason it’s pretty normal for adults’ drawings to look like they were created by little kids. For those who can open up to this, there is often an element of relief as they allow themselves to create an image – even a scribble – that depicts a felt experience, especially when others can relate. It’s funny though isn’t it? That such important work is almost globally dismissed so early on in life. Self-expression takes back seat to more practical things like work and academics as we all do our best to conform to the high expectations of a money-driven society. Add to this the helplessness many people feel at the mercy of world leaders who seem to not have our best interests in mind, and it’s no wonder that a deep sense of apathy begins to set in. Why bother?

What I’ve noticed though, in my occupation – or maybe just from the wisdom acquired in old age 🙂 – is that the most significant work any of us do is the work that is so small that it’s hardly even noticeable. Everything that is so easily dismissed by so many almost across the board. Like expressing ourselves through child-like drawings. Or taking the time to figure out what our interests are – art or otherwise. Why should we bother to pay attention to the physical sensations that inform us how we’re feeling? Why is it important to recognize the strengths in ourselves as well as the strengths in those around us? It’s so easy to see all that is wrong with the world, because let’s face it, there’s a lot. But when you can begin to see some positives and the value in taking small steps, that’s when real change begins and you can only build up from there. When you start to let go of your defenses and honor your emotions, you can use them to guide you in your interests, in strengthening your relationships… you can allow anger to empower and mobilize you to respond to oppressive situations rather than turn them inward, which as we know would only contribute to depression. And when you begin to follow a healthy meal plan, you may have more energy and access to the emotions that can be used to guide you!

At times I think it’s been a mistake to encourage clients to begin this work by stating their interests…because even that may be too big of a step when stating interests makes the assumption that you even know this information about yourself. And time and again I hear women in recovery state that they don’t know who they would be without their disorder, that it’s become so entrenched in their identity.  Maybe the first step is really to bring some awareness to our defenses… especially to all that we dismiss. Maybe the small action you can take this week is to try catching yourself in dismissing mode. When you tell yourself that something doesn’t apply to you, that it’s stupid or has no value in moving forward in life – just catch yourself, maybe create some hatch marks to see how often you do this – and then pause for a second and ask yourself if it’s really true…what if it did apply to you, what if whatever it is that you’re dismissing could help you get ahead in some roundabout, convoluted way? What would be the pros and cons of allowing yourself to actually engage in whatever it is that you’re dismissing? What are the actual risks involved? Let’s start there and see where it takes you. Let me know how it goes!

Copyright 2018 ©  Rachel Braun, All rights reserved.

Rachel Braun, ATR-BC  Art Therapist Philadelphia, PA

Specializing in art therapy groups for women who experience depression, anxiety and eating disorders. 

The Part of You that Needs to be Cared For

I don’t think I need to outline for anyone all that a busy work, school, and/or family life entails. Time and again I am blown away by the accomplishments of the women I work with, on so many levels. And yet, the struggle still continues…to find time and balance…to find helpful support…to find a reason for self-care. It’s amazing to think how easy it is to put this off until later, when faced with so much to do. 

In some of my recent art therapy groups we explored these different aspects of ourselves; the manager side vs the part that needs to be cared for. And while it’s true that yes, accomplishments can make us feel valuable and confident, there remains the part that is quietly suffering behind the scenes, sometimes from neglect, sometimes from hopelessness or a desire to give up – especially when those whom we wish would support us are incapable of doing so. The good news is that even if we are lacking in this area there is still a solution, but as Albert Einstein said, “nothing happens until something moves” or in the words of a wise friend…”action alleviates anxiety.” And of course we know this means not doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results (thank you again Einstein for that one). What I mean is that it’s so important to thread self-care into our daily activity, our network, our foundation and to find the things that actually work for us and not against us. 

In any kind of recovery I believe that it’s a necessity to establish some sort of beginner mind – to ignite a curiosity about the world where exploration is filled with child-like joy and play in order to find these things that help us to feel cared for. Why not block out an hour or two in your schedule each week to do this? I get that time management might be one of those hindrances, but did you know that incorporating self-care routines on a regular basis can go a long way in reducing the fight / flight / freeze response? That means less anxiety, fewer panic attacks and  an increased ability to be present in work and relationships.

Try this: divide a piece of paper into 6 columns and label each with the following headers – nutritional, physical, mental, emotional, interpersonal and spiritual. Then while keeping in mind the image of yourself that remains uncared for, write down action steps you can try out in each category. For example, under nutritional you might want to outline a number of food options that you can take to work with you and plans to set aside time to actually eat. Or maybe even just identify a new recipe or two that you’d be willing to try at home.

Under physical, I know that at least some of you this means exercise, and sometimes in excess. And while it’s true that exercise can be one way to alleviate anxiety, we know that this can go overboard, tipping its way into unhealthy habits. Maybe just a nice 20 minute walk in the park will suffice. Physical activity doesn’t need to equate with beating yourself up. A massage is physical too – that doesn’t sound too bad does it?

A mental exercise can mean doing a crossword puzzle, or reading a book…or it might mean finding some ways to challenge those unhelpful thoughts in your head and put reframing into practice.

For emotional you get into my favorite category with using your creativity to express yourself in different ways – art of course, or you could also try dance, or writing, drama, music, you name it. Maybe even just start with identifying the emotion you see in others, or relating a song, a color or words to an emotion. I can’t even say enough here about how neglected this aspect of ourselves often gets – it’s quite possible that any attention here will be a boost to awareness. Try to identify how you might feel in your emotion in your body – that’s a big one.

The interpersonal category can help you take action around problem solving in your relationships. Is there someone you might want to reach out to but haven’t yet? Is there someone you can practice saying no to because it will benefit your well-being? Are there people with whom you’d feel comfortable and safe with sharing about your struggles? Can you identify different people to connect with different activities? Are there groups you might consider joining? A meetup?  

I know that the idea of spirituality at times might be a big turn off for some…but there’s almost always something to connect to no matter what your religious background. Nature, for one – maybe try sitting in a field on a sunny day and simply take in the beauty of your surroundings. Download a relaxation meditation and see what that’s like. Prayer in any form can be quite powerful. 

Try adding to this list as time goes on, I think you’ll find that it can grow quite extensive even if you only begin with just a few suggestions. Be sure not to censor yourself – go with intuition and see what comes up. Then just try one new thing each week and see what happens. I wish you all the best – let me know how it goes!

Copyright 2018 ©  Rachel Braun, All rights reserved.

Rachel Braun, ATR-BC  Art Therapist Philadelphia, PA

Specializing in art therapy groups for women who experience depression, anxiety and eating disorders. 

The Drive for Perfection

The olympics are coming to PyeongChang next month. Like much of the rest of the world, I expect that I’ll spend hours in front of the screen admiring the prowess of these hand-picked athletes and wonder as usual how they manage to accomplish so much. I always enjoy the backstory and learning about what drove them to such greatness to begin with…but eventually I begin to wonder about the other competitors who never quite make it into the limelight – the ones who are a fraction of a second off who aren’t worthy of a medal and all the attention and glory that comes with it. You have to wonder if it’s the result of a narcissistic society that drives people to such lengths, when there’s the very real possibility that they will never be one of the select few who receive such praise. And what’s more amazing is the number of us who hold ourselves to such high expectations in the everyday world, in everyday life.

You might be surprised to learn that the drive for perfection is often an attempt to ward off anxiety. It might seem unlikely, but actually it’s true. Think about it – if you do everything perfect then no one can touch you, right? You won’t be subject to things like criticism which for many of us is something of a source of shame and self-loathing. If you do happen to make it to the top of the pedestal, it’s true you may be “unscathed” but at the same time, it can be a pretty lonely place to be. We already know that true connection comes from a place of vulnerability. So why bother?

It might be worthwhile to pause and think about some of the costs of striving for perfection. Maybe notice that feeling of being kept on a tight rope – one wrong move and you fall – a pretty rigid place to be, no? This can lead to chronic exhaustion, stress and burnout. I think that the need for perfection keeps us from taking necessary risks and learning important lessons in life. And perhaps more importantly, it keeps us from seeing all of our accomplishments, all that we are actually doing right and all that is good in the world. I mean, how many babies would never learn to walk had they been too ashamed to fall? Perfectionism keeps you in a bubble and that can only be so comfortable for so long. On the other hand, think about all that you gain when you allow yourself to be perfectly imperfect. Freedom maybe? An ability to learn and grow stronger in some ways? The flexibility to fully engage and enjoy life without relying on external validation? What if the key to success isn’t about being hard on yourself and beating yourself up, but rather in learning to give yourself some slack?

The truth is, no one is above reproach. Just ask any celebrity. Time and again we see highly talented people rise to the height of stardom only to come crashing down at the hands of their critics. And there are always critics. Do you really want to let society have the last say in your value as a person? Unless you’re a brain surgeon, there probably isn’t such need for absolute precision. So the next time you get a A- or (gasp!) a B on an exam, rest assured that you’re in good company. Like with all those truly amazing athletes who make it to the olympics and don’t happen to win the medal. Maybe it’s just a hunch, but my guess is that the gold medal winners will be right there with you too – I’m pretty sure that all of them can find something else to be happy about. Maybe the secret is in knowing that you are lovable just as you are.

Speaking of critics…some wise women pointed me in the direction of this gem:

And subsequently, this one:

Copyright 2018 ©  Rachel Braun, All rights reserved.

Rachel Braun, ATR-BC  Art Therapist Philadelphia, PA

Specializing in art therapy groups for women who experience depression, anxiety and eating disorders. 

Coping Through the Holidays Tip #5: Honor Your Truth

For my final tip of this holiday season, I’m dedicating it to those of you who struggle to differentiate your desires, thoughts and opinions from that of those around you. This might be someone you love, distant acquaintances, or even the voices calling out to you from advertisements in magazines. I think that this time of year is especially rife with shoulds and shouldn’ts – about what you’re supposed to be doing with your life, what you should be feeling, who you should or shouldn’t be hanging out with, how you should look, what movies, books and music you should or shouldn’t be paying attention to. But I say it’s all bunk if you’re not following through with what actually resonates within you. The problem sometimes is that we get so used to denying our own feelings and opinions that we can lose sight of them altogether.

So this year, give yourself the gift of pausing – a moment to check within yourself, maybe deep, deep down, to see what’s really there – before answering yes to everything. Do you really want to go to that New Year’s Eve party that will likely end in drunken brawls, or would it be more fun to simply invite a few friends over and drink hot cocoa while playing cards in front of the fireplace as you watch the ball drop on tv? Or maybe you’re at the party and you happen to like the movie that everyone is bashing. What would happen if you shared your reasons why?

Don’t get me wrong, connection is great and I’m not suggesting that you go against the grain just for the sake of going against the grain. There will always be plenty of opportunity to agree with what everyone is saying and/or doing if that’s what you want to do. But just for a night, try experimenting and honor what is true for you just to see what happens. Just once. Or twice. Maybe you’ll feel just a little bit less anxious. Or maybe you’ll wake up feeling slightly less depressed the next day. I can’t promise anything, but I suspect that there’s a part of you that will be really thankful.

If you’re still feeling a little hesitant about all this, rest assured that while you’re taking that introspective pause, you can also do a bit of pros and cons work using a few simple goals to guide you: Will my response effect my health in some way? Will it keep me safe? Will my response improve my relationships somehow, or let people get to know me in a more authentic way? Feel free to add your own concerns here, but I strongly urge you to base your decisions on a path of health and wellness. Safety should come first of course, so even if you have to make a contrary decision based on keeping yourself safe, it’s still helpful for you to know your truth and it may help to guide you in taking action at other times down the road. There are always opportunities to make wise decisions – we may not get it right every time, but I believe that when you honor your truth, over time you’ll be headed in the right direction.

Here’s to seeing more of all that is you in 2018 – Happy New Year everyone!

Copyright 2017 ©  Rachel Braun, All rights reserved.

Rachel Braun, ATR-BC  Art Therapist Philadelphia, PA

Specializing in art therapy groups for women who experience depression, anxiety and eating disorders. 

Coping Through the Holidays Tip #4: Try Something New

I’ve been informed by some wise women out there that one of the most daunting things about the holidays is all the down time. A little ironic when you think about it, but it also makes perfect sense when you realize that down time is fertile ground for racing thoughts and negative self talk – and we all know how quickly this can translate into shutting down and isolating behaviors. The first step to change of course is awareness, so once you know this about yourself you can begin to make plans to take action.

If spending “quality” time with family means sitting around and watching tv together – or watching them watch tv – consider what it might feel like to invite them to play a board game together instead. Or to *gulp* go outside and take in the elements even if it’s freezing cold out. Honestly, as long as you’re not choosing something destructive (self, or otherwise), what you’re choosing to do different is less important than making the decision to do something different, in and of itself.

Trying something new can also mean trying something old – something you used to enjoy as a kid, like going sledding or catching snowflakes on your tongue. Even the act of opening your arms up to the world might be enough of an energetic shift to invite new thoughts and experiences. What’s it like to tap into that energy from a time when you were filled with curiosity, wanting to discover the world and learn what it was all about? Maybe take a walk down a different street in your neighborhood or stop into a shop that you’ve only passed by for the millionth time. One wise woman pointed out that even if you feel like you are all alone in the world, there is always the option to feel some connection to others simply by being in public places; reading a book or listening to music in a coffee shop still gives you the energy of being around others – and you never know, being around others might even open the door to new possibilities.

I think that one of the mistakes we make is the assumption that we already know all there is to know about the world, but of course the universe is not that simple. I truly believe that bringing flexibility in your approach to life is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. And maybe, just maybe, you can begin to create some space to challenge those mistaken beliefs and find there is another way to be in the world. Let me know how it goes – I would love to hear from you!

Copyright 2017 ©  Rachel Braun, All rights reserved.

Rachel Braun, ATR-BC  Art Therapist Philadelphia, PA

Specializing in art therapy groups for women who experience depression, anxiety and eating disorders. 

Coping Through the Holidays Tip #3: Express Your Needs

A wise woman recently pointed out to me that she has spent so much time practicing gratitude over the years that the act of asking for something felt completely selfish and vain. Can you believe it??? Of course it’s not all that surprising when so many of us have been raised with this sentiment: be kind and generous…care for other’s needs and dismiss our own. Maybe that’s not the overt message but it is all too often experienced implicitly by many. But in reality that’s not the way it works. Human beings by nature are in the business of needing, it’s an important aspect of being in a relationship. We give and we receive. It has to work both ways and it’s been that way since we were born – why stop now? I think we get into a lot of trouble when we deny our needs, so do yourself and your loved ones a favor and let them in on the secret about what makes you happy.

Back in 1995 Gary Chapman wrote a book called The Five Love Languages in which he identifies the different ways that we give to each other: words of affirmation; acts of service; receiving gifts; quality time; and physical touch. Chapman’s book also indicates how we often prefer some of these gifts when others would not care for them at all. It sort of makes you stop and think about the golden rule then, doesn’t it? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” really only works well if both of you happen to want the same thing. If what you’re doing unto others isn’t really wanted then it seems like something’s really missing doesn’t it? And here’s a big secret: as much as we all wish it to be true, our loved ones are definitely not mind readers. Let me say that again: Our loved ones are not mind readers. They can’t be expected to know what we want unless we clue them in. And sometimes hints are not enough, sometimes we just gotta spell it out. So do everyone a favor this holiday season and leave your wish list on the counter for someone special to see.

I assume that most of us can relate to the joy it brings when you give a gift to someone who is truly appreciative – when you get it right and they feel known, valued and loved. Why not give them the same kind of joy – to witness you getting a gift that helps you feel known, valued and loved? Think of all the great modeling you’ll be offering to others when they see that your needs are being met. And think of how much more capable you will be to give of yourself when coming from a place of resource and abundance rather than depletion? There are tons of benefits in doing this – I strongly urge you to give it a try.

Of course people can only give in the capacity from which they are able…so if you ask for a real-life Little Einstein’s Red Rocket Ship for the umpteenth time and your child still hasn’t provided, you can’t really hold it against her or him. On the other hand, they probably can make you a hand-made gift, say “I love you” on occasion, give hugs from time to time, help out around the house and play games or go for a walk with you. And you can rest assured that it’s ok to ask.

Copyright 2017 ©  Rachel Braun, All rights reserved.

Rachel Braun, ATR-BC  Art Therapist Philadelphia, PA

Specializing in art therapy groups for women who experience depression, anxiety and eating disorders. 

Coping Through the Holidays Tip #2: Get Personal

If you happen to find yourself feeling a little ambivalent about the holidays, it might be helpful to know you’re not alone. It’s not so uncommon for sadness to arise, especially if memories of the past come up when there may have been grief and loss involved…loss of loved ones, loss of relationships…even loss of time where things maybe haven’t turned out the way you would have liked them to. Maybe it’s an inability to be with those you love during a time you love. Or maybe you’re not even sure why you’re feeling down, it’s just something that’s there.

Impulsively you might want to push these feelings away, but in my experience that will often just exacerbate the discomfort and only prolong it. It might be a better idea to set aside a few hours to sit with these feelings and take some action around them. Try writing a letter to someone that will never get sent as a way to create some space for your feelings about the situation. Or maybe look through old photo albums to simply be with the memories that are there.

You can also use this time for a little self-care. There are some great DIY videos out there where you can make something nice for yourself – like bath bombs, body scrubs, lip balms, and aromatherapy – which also might spark some ideas for home-made, personal gifts that you can create to give to someone else you care about.

When done with intention, activities such as these can have a lot of therapeutic value. But if you find that it’s hard to pull away, or that reminiscing turns into ruminating which gets stuck, it’s a good sign that it’s time to reach out to someone for help – either a friendly support person or even a professional.

Holidays aren’t an all or nothing thing; it’s ok to make room for all the feelings that come up, despite external messages that it’s supposed to be all about happiness. And ironically it’s often when you move into the sadness and find ways to nurture yourself around it, is when you can find room for more joy.

Copyright 2017 ©  Rachel Braun, All rights reserved.

Rachel Braun, ATR-BC  Art Therapist Philadelphia, PA

Specializing in art therapy groups for women who experience depression, anxiety and eating disorders. 

Coping Through the Holidays Tip #1: Party Time!

Ever get s sense of dread as you approach the door to that holiday party where everyone’s expecting you to show up? Or maybe you hardly know anyone at all and you’re deciding to be adventurous by accepting an invitation from a new acquaintance. Either way, it makes perfect sense that anxiety would rear it’s head at a time when faced with walking into a room full of unknowns: any combination of moods, personalities, and opinions, along with a smorgasbord of libations and food might create an unpredictable environment that can quickly feel overwhelming and out of control. BUT, there are some things you can do to make the experience feel more grounded and manageable.

For one, remember to ask questions. While some of us might be terrible at small talk, the good news is that people generally like to talk about themselves. So if you get good at asking questions, you can keep the focus on them, and maybe even learn something interesting and new. Safe topics usually include plans for the holidays, books, movies and kids. Might be best to stay away from politics and religion unless you’re sure you’re in like-minded company.

While alcohol is often associated with loosening up, it might not be a good idea to let go of all your inhibitions, especially at work parties where you want to maintain a good impression. If you choose to drink, or feel pressured to do so, you can always alternate (or replace) cocktails with a glass of sparkling water or tonic garnished with lemon or lime. No one needs to know the difference and it might save you some grace. Just remember that carbonated beverages actually increase the rate of alcohol into the bloodstream so plain water might be a safer bet. And always be sure that you’ve got a safe ride home.

Also, don’t forget to set yourself up in a good way by eating balanced meals beforehand. Sometimes people fear that they will eat too much and choose to restrict earlier in the day if they know they will be around tempting foods. This is a bad idea as it only informs your body that it’s starving and will make it harder to know when to stop. Remember that there are always opportunities to meet your exchanges, even when faced with random snacks. Admittedly, nutrition is not my area of expertise but if you’re in the market for a dietitian, let me know as I can point you in the direction of some really great referrals.

Copyright 2017 ©  Rachel Braun, All rights reserved.

Rachel Braun, ATR-BC  Art Therapist Philadelphia, PA

Specializing in art therapy groups for women who experience depression, anxiety and eating disorders.