It’s Been Awhile…

Photo May 30, 7 57 45 PMHello and Happy 2018! With the new year we often find ourselves reflecting on our lives and things that we have done well, let slide, and aspirations for the future.

In the spirit of honesty and moving forward, Alex and I let our jobs take over a bit in the past few months and weren’t doing our OTHER job of proper self care and taking time for regular reflection. We aspire to share more and share more often with you through this blog, and look forward to seeing what the year brings.

Are there any particular self care topics you would like to see us cover this year?

Journal Prompt: In reflecting on the past few months, what have you done well? Let slide? What are your aspirations for the near future? 



Self Care = Finding and Using Your Support System


Call your people. Make plans with them. Your mind and spirit will thank you.

In the busy days of back to school craziness (I work as a high school counselor), I have once again been reminded about the importance of reaching out to my core group of family and friends who know me, listen to me, and accept me for who I am.

It is easy for me to fall into a habit of coming home from work, lying on the couch for “just five minutes” and then not having the energy to do the things I want to do, like go to the gym or call a friend to catch up. This often creates the vicious cycle of feeling disappointed with myself for not accomplishing what I wanted to, yet not taking action to change it.

This Thursday, feeling drained from a demanding work week, I was reminded of how therapeutic it can be to just talk to someone who gets it. I texted my former coworker to see if she could meet me for happy hour and was thrilled when she responded immediately that she was free and would love to catch up.

We spent two hours that afternoon venting, laughing, and confiding, and I was so energized when I got home that I even did some much-needed cleaning around the house. Sure, texting and interacting with people through social media can be a way to catch up, but there is something so fulfilling about actually talking to someone in person.

This is your friendly reminder to nurture those connections and to reach out to someone today.



Journal Prompt: Who is in your support system? In what ways do they give you strength?

P.S. Are you having trouble identifying some key people to go to for support? Check out this article about how to build your support system.

5 Ways to Fight the Sunday Night Blues on Steroids (Alternate Title: How to go Back to Work After a Long Weekend)


Greetings and Happy Labor Day! I hope you found some time to relax this weekend while clutching onto the last bit of summer (anyone else crying about the pool closing?). I am having a fantastic weekend but am noticing that ominous, anxious feeling that comes after a long weekend off… the Sunday Night Blues on steroids.

Yes, the dreaded back to work after three glorious days off. How do we cope? If you’re struggling with the thought of going back to work tomorrow, try these 5 ways to practice some extra self care. You deserve it!

  1. Stretch as soon as you get up. If you’re like me and wake up stiff and achy most mornings, this is a great way to loosen up and to relieve any tension or stress that may build up. I really like these 5 stretches…give them a try and see how you feel.
  2. Listen to a morning meditation while you commute. There are plenty of great meditation apps you can download such as Insight Timer (my personal favorite), Buddhify, and Aura. Pick one and find a short meditation that you can stream while driving or sitting on the train. Alex does this every morning on his way to the office and finds that when he arrives at work he is more serene, calm, and ready to take on whatever the day may bring.
  3. Add some pizzazz to your water bottle. Do you have a cucumber in your veggie drawer or a mint plant you always seem to forget about? Add some to your water! Even doing something this small will add variation and excitement to your normal routine. Plus, adding something yummy to your water will make you want to drink more of it, which means you stay more hydrated. Hydration means more energy. See where I’m going with this?!
  4. Plan an exit strategy. Even though most people don’t work on Labor Day, there always seems to be more to do after a long weekend off. Plan something to make sure you leave work on time, whether it’s scheduling a phone call with your bestie, getting a pedicure, or meeting your partner for happy hour.
  5. Go to bed 30 minutes early. The best thing you can do for yourself to continue to recharge is to get enough sleep. I know that catching up on Insecure and Bachelor in Paradise is important…but do yourself this favor and snag some extra Zzzz’s. Your body and mind will thank you.

Wishing you a low stress and peaceful day tomorrow!

Journal Prompt: Reflect on your long weekend. What are you grateful for? 




Beyond the Comfort Zone


Wading through the bay and trying not to think about all of the creatures I might step on, I feel the paddle sliding through my sunscreen-greased, sweaty hand. I grip the paddle board and slowly hoist myself onto the board and up on my knees. I can’t tell if the board is shaking from my quivering limbs or from the tiny ripples of the water. Either way,  I have to stand up. It’s time.


As someone who usually errs on the side of caution and has a genetic predisposition for anxiety, my “comfort zone” is a pretty big space. I like knowing what I’m getting myself into and plan for a variety of outcomes in a given scenario. When it comes to physically challenging activities in unknown places, I feel especially timid. In the past few months I have done some soul-searching about why I have these boundaries and small ways I could push them. Have you ever noticed how doing something really small to challenge your normal boundaries can actually translate into feeling more confident and capable (insert self care siren here)?

During the yearly beach vacation with my extended family, I happily observe my cousins and their kids dive through the crashing waves and paddle board along the shore of the bay. It’s not that I’m afraid to engage, per se, it’s just that I’m comfortable where I am, with my toes planted firmly in the sand. When my sister told me that she and my cousins were taking the kids paddle boarding, I told her to count me in.

As you can probably tell from the triumphant pose the mystery paddle boarder is striking in the picture above, I did it! I won’t go into all of the details about the before and during–the most important takeaway for me was the after. Even though most people would probably paddle board without a second thought (basically everyone I was with and their five year old kids), to me, the feat of actually standing up on the board and meandering my way through the ripples of the bay was like completing a marathon. Beyond the adrenaline and pride coursing through me, my family was SO proud of me. They know me and accept me for who I am, and wouldn’t have been disappointed or even said anything to me if I didn’t end up paddle boarding. But let me tell you, when I stood up and paddled away, I heard my cousin Peter yelling to my sister “MAEVE! She did it! Take a picture!” Paddling outside of my comfort zone not only fostered self-confidence, it reminded me of what an amazing support system I have.

I found these articles really interesting about one’s comfort zone and how there is a level of “optimal anxiety” which leads to all sorts of positive outcomes like increased productivity and creativity. There also is a point at which pushing oneself too far outside of the zone can be detrimental. Check them out and leave a comment to let me know your thoughts!

The science of breaking out of your comfort zone

10 ways to step outside of your comfort zone

Journal Prompt: How can you push yourself out of your comfort zone this week? Write about how you feel before and after this experience.



Get Outside!


The very first thing I think of when I think about self-care is the outdoors. There’s so much research on the benefits of being in nature, whether it is the depression-fighting benefits of being in green and blue spaces, or the stress-relieving effect of exercise, or the mental focus impact of being in the moment out in the wilderness.

If you’d like to read more about this, Psychologist Jill Suttie, PsyD summarized some of the most significant research brilliantly in this article in UC Berkley’s Greater Good Magazine.

This importance of being connected to nature makes sense. When it comes down to it,  on a philosophical level, we are nature; we are animals, developed out of the processes of the natural world, who evolved alongside other natural processes. Somewhere along the way, though, we have gotten so good at controlling and manipulating our environment that we may have lost our connection to it.  Living, working, traveling, and playing in our manufactured spaces, we have become increasingly disconnected from each other and from the natural world… sitting alone in our windowless offices or staring at each other silently from behind our windshields while stuck in traffic, we may be inadvertently making ourselves less well. This is just not how we were made to live!

To me, the key to reconnecting with our natural environment and getting the most self-care benefit out of being outdoors is finding the way in which we most enjoy being in nature. For me, revisiting nature in it’s purest form is backpacking out in the wilderness. For you, is it jogging your favorite route?… Taking a drive in the countryside with the hood down?… Playing an outdoor sport like golf?… Enjoying a scenic visit to a local winery with friends?… Playing in the backyard with your children or pets?… Or is it just sitting at your favorite spot outside on the back patio?

As for me…when I can’t get out into the wilderness and I need some mental clarity and creativity, like when writing this blog post, I secretly put in my earbuds and plug into my favorite nature-sounds playlist on Spotify!

Journal Prompt:
What is your favorite outdoor place or space? Maybe it is a place from your childhood, a favorite vacation spot, or just a place that you love getting out to on the weekends. How does being in this place impact your self-care?

If you’re feeling stuck with this prompt, try this activity instead. See the section: Distancing Yourself From Your Emotions.


Why Journal?


Hi, what’s going on with you today? I’m heading to the beach to spend a few days with extended family and am SO looking forward to days full of reading under the umbrella, goofing off with my cousins and their kids, and playing some epic family card games (Phase 10, anyone?). I hope you’re finding some ways to take care of yourself this weekend!

Some of you may be wondering why Alex and I decided to create a journal prompt at the end of each blog post. As we talked about in the last post, knowing and understanding your personality is vital in order to figure out what self care tools will work best for you. Another HUGE part of being your best self and continuing to evolve is reflection. When I was growing up, my family played “Highs/Lows” every night at dinner–each family member takes a turn telling the others the best and worst parts of their day. Sure, there were times my sister and I were annoying teenagers who said that the worst part of our day was “playing this dumb game,” but looking back I really appreciate my parents’ effort to allow a space for us all to reflect on our day. Alex and I have already talked about doing this game with our (future) children.

Journaling is an effective and safe way to reflect by yourself. Jotting down your thoughts will often help you better understand your experiences and define your goals. Sometimes when I’m writing in my journal I feel like I’m rambling, but 9 times out of 10 when I read over the entry I gain insight that I didn’t know I had. Beyond writing to take care of yourself and reflect on experiences, journaling can also help you to be a better leader at work and in life in general. If you’ve never gotten into journaling, I challenge you to give it a try. How about right now, with a journal prompt about the perks journaling? 🙂

Journal Prompt: How are you feeling right now? What are your highs and lows of today?

I’m off to the beach…talk to you soon!



Know Who You Are

What goes in your self care toolbox depends a lot on your personality–what are your likes, dislikes, strengths…what makes you tick? One of the fundamental ways of taking care of yourself is knowing yourself. Even if you already are 100% confident in your ENFJ personality type or know all of the ways to take care of your introverted self, humor me….there is always something more to be learned about your personality.

I really like this free personality test based off of the Myers-Briggs model. It breaks down your personality into a four letter code (16 possible types) that include the following:

  • Extraverted (E) or Introverted (I)
  • Sensing (S) or Intuition (N)
  • Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
  • Perceiving (P) or Judging (J)

The best part about this test is that the results explain the strengths of each personality type based on your answers. I’ve always thought of myself as an Extrovert with Introverted qualities, and the test was spot on–based on its algorithm, the test showed that I am 12% more extroverted than introverted.  For me, socializing and being goofy with friends gives me energy and sparkle, but there comes a point where I need an hour of sitting in my room watching Netflix alone. This test is a good reminder that one of my tools for when I’m feeling stressed is to give myself a break from others and just chill.

Journal Prompt: What is one thing you learned about your personality type? How can this translate into better caring for yourself?


P.S. Here’s another fun link about pop culture personality types–I’m Sansa Stark! Who are you?

Nice to Meet You

File Jul 19, 7 05 06 PMHi, and welcome! We are Alex and Moira, married 30-somethings living in Virginia with our two tuxedo cats, Clarence and Zeus. We both work in the helping professions–Alex as an LCSW therapist and Moira as a High School Counselor. 

Life coaches work with you on asking the questions “What do I want?” and “How do I get there?” We ask another important and often-forgotten question… “How do I take care of myself along the way?” Think of us as your informal self care coaches. 

In helping individuals cope with day to day struggles, one of our favorite things is to talk to them about their “toolbox.” What tools do they have available to them to help them care for themselves when things get tough? Do they love music? Is yoga something that centers them? We love helping people identify the tools they already have, as well as adding new things to their toolbox. We know, the whole toolbox analogy sounds kind of cheesy, but it actually works!

Here’s what to expect from each blog post:

  • Self Care Tool: Each post will explore a subject related to self care. We hope to provide resources in the way of websites, podcasts, articles, book recommendations, music playlists, and more to broaden the scope.
  • Reflection: At the end of each post, we will have an optional journal prompt designed to help you reflect on what you read. We also encourage you to use the Comments section to discuss the post and your takeaways.
  • Honesty, candor, and even some humor. We are not experts on every subject area but look forward to sharing what we know and learning from you along the way. We’re all in this crazy adventure called life together.

Thanks for visiting our blog–we hope to build a community of people who care about caring for themselves. For a few more details about who we are and our interests, see The Pair

Cheers and Happy Reading!

Moira & Alex