1. Adolescent Girls and Depression

    Can adolescents be depressed? Unfortunately, yes, and the number of depressed teens, especially female, is rising.

    A recent study in the journal of Pediatrics found that between 2005 and 2014, the rates of depression increased significantly amongst teens in the United States: there are now over half a million more depressed adolescents than before. Interestingly, this study also found that many more adolescent girls in the U.S. are experiencing major depressive episodes at this age than boys. In fact, 85% of the adolescent population found to have depression is female. Women of all ages experience higher rates of depression in comparison to men, but the national average is 2:1, not 8:1 as in the adolescent population currently.

    But why?

    Quite simply, the increase in adolescent depression rates, especially that of girls’, is directly related to the increase in adolescents’ dependence on social media. Postings on social media, whether through Facebook, SnapChat or Instagram, represent a manipulated version of someone’s life. The content that individuals share does not reflect their vulnerabilities, fears or ‘bad days.’ Often, viewers’ feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness are compounded and exacerbated after viewing others’ filtered posts.

    Teens are incredibly vulnerable to defining themselves in comparison to others, and social media messages are a minefield for just this. Almost all social media messages focus the viewer on looks, not gifts, intelligences or passions. When adolescents use social media as a means of communicating, they are more apt to base their identities on their social media accounts, and their emotions become more volatile based on how many likes, tags or friends they have. Adolescent girls are particularly susceptible to this and frequently feel that their “entire identify” relates to their phones. This, unfortunately, leads to increased instances of negative self-comparisons and increased frequency of cyber-bullying.

    What are some signs of depression?

    • Changes in sleep patterns
    • Changes in appetite or energy
    • Growing inability to pay attention or concentrate
    • Increased irritability
    • Increased feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness

    Knowing all of this, what can adolescents, parents, schools and others do to help?

    To start, we need to bring more awareness to the issue. Parents need to work to create structure around technology and put into place best practices related to its use. For example, practice not checking your phone all evening while with other family members. Try setting a rule that does not permit phones in bedrooms at night and also ensure that there are no phones being used at the table when a family meal is occurring.

    Next, we need to start a cultural discussion about the impact social media has on our feelings towards ourselves. We need to bring awareness to the feeling of being compared to others and the urge to check our phone. What would it be like to have an open discussion about how FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and checking Instrgram are so closely related? What would it be like for both mom and daughter to realize that they share similar feelings and process that together?

    Lastly, many schools are now offering courses in mindfulness. These courses are meant to facilitate students’ learning ‘pay attention’ to their needs and reactions by focusing on one’s internal feelings, thoughts and physical sensations. Mindfulness can offer measurable health benefits and decrease rates of depression. If adolescents (and adults!) can become more aware of their urge to check their phones, then they can have the space to make the decision to not engage in social media at a given time. The more conscious the process becomes, the less direct the link is between social media and one’s emotions. As a result, it is strongly believed that rates of adolescent depression might decrease to be more in line with national averages.

    As technological advances are made, we as a culture need to develop our own ways of interacting with that technology. As a culture, and for women specifically, we need to begin to address social media use and the role it plays in our lives, especially pertaining to how many increased comparisons and media messages are occurring in our daily lives. To learn more about this topic, watch Rebecca’s segment on the Charlotte Today Show here.

     


  2. Adolescent Girls and Depression on the Charlotte Today Show

    Watch Rebecca speak about Adolescent Girls and Depression on the Charlotte Today Show


  3. Millenials in the Workplace on the Charlotte Today Show

    Watch Rebecca speak about Millenials in the Workplace on the Charlotte Today Show


  4. Getting into your Wise Mind for 2017

    The New Year is an emotional time for everyone. Anticipation and happiness as well as anxiety and sadness are often overwhelming for people of all ages. Whether you set New Year’s resolutions or not, there are always high expectations and hopes of what is to come with the state of the new calendar year. This year, try borrowing a concept from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and focusing on your Wise Mind.

    One of DBT’s basic premises is that there are 3 states of mind…. Reasonable Mind, Emotional Mind and Wise Mind.

    Reasonable Mind: A person uses their Reasonable Mind when they approach a situation intellectually. They plan and make decisions based off of facts.

    Emotional Mind: The Emotional Mind is used when feelings control a person’s thoughts and behavior. They might act impulsively with little regards to consequence.

    Wise Mind: The Wise Mind refers to a balance between the reasonable and emotional halves. A person in Wise Mind is able to recognize and respect their feelings, while responding to them in a rational manner.

    If you were looking at a Venn diagram, Wise Mind would be the overlap of Reasonable Mind and Emotional Mind. Most people gravitate either towards Reasonable Mind or Emotional Mind as their status quo. As such, a person’s first step to acting from the Wise Mind is to identify and become aware of which half is more present for him/her. In DBT, this awareness is called Mindfulness.

    Mindfulness is the present-moment-focus and quality of awareness that a person brings to everyday living; learning to control your mind, rather than letting your mind control you. Mindfulness as a practice directs your attention to only one thing, and that one thing is the moment you are living in. Once you are clear on which half you tend towards, you can start to make choices to bring your actions closer to the middle path and made decisions with your Wise Mind.

    So, as you start 2017, become aware of your thoughts and emotions related to the New Year. Try to identify which expectations and hopes come from a Wise Mind place as opposed to an Emotional Mind or Reasonable Mind. And, start a Mindfulness practice in order to become more present in the moment and be able to choose different behaviors for 2017 than you did for 2016.


  5. Motherhood Part II: Self-Care

    I want to follow-up on my previous post with a discussion of self-care. So often we are our own worst critics. Our minds call us things that we would never say to someone else, friend or foe. Self-care is based on the concept of self-compassion. Learning to show yourself the empathy and generosity that you so often provide to others is essential for your own health. How can we hope that others love us if we cannot love ourselves? How can we hope that others treat us well if we cannot treat ourselves well? My hope is that each of can learn to practice self-compassion via self care and teach our children how important it is to value themselves.

    Regardless of whether you work inside and/or outside of the home, making time for yourself and for self-care is so, so important. I cannot stress it enough: You are the model for your family. If you are not well – mentally, physically and emotionally- then you cannot help your family to be that way either. Below are my top 5 tips for things that you can do to make sure that you practice regular self-care:

    1. Schedule Time for You. Whether you hire a sitter, leave your kids with your partner, or bring the kids to the local YMCA child watch, make sure that you get at least an hour or two of time to yourself each week. While an hour does not seem like a lot, it sometimes feels like you have to move mountains to get even a minute alone. Do not give up though! Having time to sleep, read, exercise, call a friend, meditate, go in the sauna, get a pedicure, shop, etc. is so essential to your feeling like a person, an individual meeting her own needs, rather than only a mother meeting other peoples’ needs.
    2. Ask for Help and Delegate. You cannot do it all. You do not want to do it all. Whether you ask your partner, neighbor or friend for help or whether you outsource tasks like cleaning, laundry, etc, get help! Delegate tasks and off-load items from your to-do list. For those moms that work inside the home, you need help too! Most adults work 9 am – 5 pm. If you work in the home, your day is more like 4 am – 10 pm. Those are long hours! Do not diminish how exhausting being a stay-at-home parent is and make sure to ask for help.
    3. Say No. You need to say no. You cannot and should not try to do it all. I would suggest starting by identifying what your values are and what endeavors you want to pursue. Try thinking of values for the categories: family, professional, spiritual, education, and leisure. The next step is identifying goals that pursue your values. Goals are things you can accomplish, whereas values are a direction you move in but never arrive at. In order to take these steps, you must say no to engagements, obligations and activities that are not in pursuit of your values. Saying no is not selfish or rude. Saying no helps you to become the best version of yourself.
    4. Prioritize and prepare. Start by making a list of what you want to accomplish in the short term, long term, at home and at work. Then, prioritize. You will be hard pressed to find an adult who does not have an ever-growing to-do list. Start by accepting that you can only do so much. Identify what is necessary, ideal and superfluous. Then, problem solve on how to move forward. We have all been told that preparation is the key to success. Prioritizing is part of preparation but so too is delegation and ensuring that you have all the necessary components of the project before you under take it.
    5. Avoid distractions and be present. Email pop-ups, text messages, Facebook alerts, Snap Chats, etc, are all distractions. Whether you are playing a game with your kids, making a power point presentation or emailing a friend, be present in each moment. Pay attention to what you are doing so that you can be fully engaged. Avoiding distractions and being present helps you to accomplish tasks effectively and efficiently as well as connect with those you are with. All of us could use some no-phone time daily; try scheduling this and making it a daily habit.

    I used to think that being a mother is the hardest job that anyone can have. My views recently have shifted. I think that being a mother who understands the importance of self-care is harder. Knowing that you need to self-care in order to be a better mother means that you have to make time for your needs in the midst of a life filled with work for others. Self-care will make you a better parent, person and professional. Unfortunately, though, self-care is often at the bottom of a mother’s priority list, even though it should really be at the top.


  6. Managing Stress Over the Holidays on the Charlotte Today Show

    Watch Rebecca speak about Managing Stress Over the Holidays on the Charlotte Today Show


  7. Motherhood Part I: Work

    As a mother of 2, I am often asked, ‘Whether or not I work?’ This seems like a simple question to answer, right? Every time, without fail, I take a deep breath, exhale, and instead of talking, I do not know what to say. How can I answer such a simple question when my life feels so much more complicated?

    Yes, I do work outside of my home. I run my own business.

    Yes, I do work inside of my home. I am the chief of cooking, groceries, lunch packing, laundry, bed making, etc.

    And, Yes, I work to parent my kids. It is work getting them out of bed in the morning. It is work getting them out of their pajamas. It is work brushing their teeth. It is work getting them into their car seats. It is work dropping them off at daycare without them clinging to me and telling me they are sick and need to come home. And, that is only the work I do as a parent before 8 am! It is work that I love and that I chose to do, but it is tough and challenging. Sometimes it does feel like work to come up with new positive spins every day for my 3 year old so that each task does not turn into a meltdown that seems to be waiting right around every corner.

    Please do not misunderstand me, being a parent is the most important thing I have done and will ever do. My husband and I worked hard to have our kids, undergoing fertility treatments and numerous highs and lows along the way. It is a blessing to be a mother.

    Work is a noun or a verb, neither positive nor negative. Work is defined as an “activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.”

    So, going back to the original question of ‘do you work?’ My simplest answer is: Yes, I do, inside and outside of my home. The follow-up to that, though, is that the work I do at home with my kids involves so much more mental and physical effort than the work I do outside of my home. Parenting is the epitome of emotional engaging and exhaustion. My kids depend on me (and my husband) for love, guidance, boundaries and discipline. How can these things not require the utmost mental and physical effort?

    Often, mothers who work outside of the home say that they choose to go to their jobs to get ‘adult time.’ Time where they can go to the bathroom by themselves, time where they can sit and eat lunch – even if it is at their desk, and time where they can talk to people who, hopefully, don’t break down in tears when they don’t get their way. In fact, survey results from FlexJobs report that 2 out of 3 women “want to work” [outside the home] even though most “need to work.”

    A good friend and colleague of mine saw Gloria Steinem speak in 2012, and during her speech, Gloria told the audience that stay at home moms produce so much unpaid labor in the home that they literally and figuratively hold up the US economy. Gloria explained that she has argued for years for some kind of recognition, ideally in the form of a wage for women who work in the home as stay at home caregivers. At some point in her speech, Gloria asked the audience to calculate what it would cost a family to hire a full time nanny to be with the kids and drive them to school; cook (or take out for every meal); send out all clothes, towels, sheets and other linens for laundry service and/or dry cleaning; clean the house; hire a personal assistant to organize schedules and pay bills; pack lunches; pick up snacks and special treats or presents for kids parties; hire a work associate to design, print, seal and send Christmas cards…. Gloria went on and on to list the tasks that seem ‘normal’ for a stay at home caregiver, often a woman.

    While I would love to see the economy shift to paying stay at home parents for their work, I doubt it will happen in my lifetime. However, addressing the guilt that stay at home moms often feel for asking for help and delegating to complete these tasks is something that should and can be challenged. Wherever you do your work – inside of the home, outside of the home, or both – paying for services to help you to function and achieve the quality of life you hope for is necessary. Feeling guilty about it only reinforces the cycle of expectation that we should be able to do “it all.” So, next time you notice that you are feeling guilty or having second thoughts about the work that you do, challenge it for your and other parents’ sake!


  8. Finding Balance as a Working Mom on the Charlotte Today Show

    Watch Rebecca speak about Finding Balance as a Working Mom on the Charlotte Today Show


  9. Networking Do’s and Don’ts

    We all hear about networking in today’s professional environment. We are told it is a necessary skill, not an optional one. What though is networking and how does one go about doing it successfully?

    According to many experts, networking means: To build relations on the basis of trust that involves a give and take. Although seemingly simple, this definition is easier said than done. Let’s break it down….

    To build relations: To build a relationship means that you are developing a pattern of interactions with another person. In order for this to be true, making a good first impression is crucial.

    On the basis of trust: Trust suggests confidence in someone or something to be reliable, valid and truthful. Trust in a person also involves seeing strength in him/her.

    Involves a give and take: Networking involves helping others and providing something or some service to others while also looking for something or some service from others.

    So, how does one go about doing all of this? Below are my top 3 do’s and don’ts for professionally networking with others.

    Do’s

    1. Make a good first impression. This includes:
      1. Being on-time to your meeting
      2. Over-dressing as opposed to under-dressing
      3. Being appreciative
      4. Listening attentively
    2. Develop a goal and strategy:
      1. Prepare ahead of time by researching the person and organization you are meeting with.
      2. Contemplate in advance what you hope to gain from this meeting in terms of information and additional potential contacts.
      3. Strategize what you can offer the person you are meeting with so that you ensure you are completing the ‘give and take’ component of networking.
    3. Follow-up:
      1. Always follow-up immediately after the meeting with a handwritten note or personal email.
      2. Reach out to your contacts quarterly, semi-annually or even annually with a card, phone call or email in order to ensure you maintain the relationship.

    Don’ts

    1. Ask for a job:
      1. Asking for advice and asking someone to employ you are two very different things. It is always safe to ask others about their professional experiences and how they made the choices they did. It is rarely safe to ask others if they can hire you!
      2. Asking for a job threatens your image of strength and confidence, both of which are key components of trust.
    2. Stop networking because you have a job:
      1. Networking is most effective for growing on the job or changing jobs. When you are in crisis and trying to find a job, you are going to want a network to reach out to, so make sure to continue networking even when things are going well.
      2. Growing your network and maintaining your network via intermittent follow-ups to others takes time and purposeful energy. Make networking part of your professional duties so that you have relationships to call upon when you are in need of help.
    3. Underestimate the power of networking:
      1. Finding a job takes more than filling out an application on line, attending a job fair or even having an amazing resume.
      2. In an August 2009 survey competed by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., a global outplacement firm, human resources executives were asked to rate the effectiveness of various job-search methods on a scale of 1 (least effective) to 5 (most effective). Networking averaged a 3.98. And, about half of the executives gave networking the highest effectiveness rating of 5.

    In the end, networking has now become an essential part of everyone’s professional lives. Focusing on the importance of a network; networking with awareness and purpose; and following the do’s and don’ts listed above can all have a positive impact on your professional path and help you find success, satisfaction and opportunities in your career. To learn more about networking, see Rebecca’s segment on the Charlotte Today Show here.


  10. The Do’s and Don’ts of Networking on the Charlotte Today Show

    Watch Rebecca talk about Networking on the Charlotte Today Show


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