Holiday Stress Survival Guide: How to feel more Peace & Joy this Season

Holiday Stress Survival Guide-How to Feel More Peace & Joy this Season; #holidays #christmas #mentalhealth #stress It’s that time of year again—time for “getting it all done,” time for planning and parties and presents and…peace?


Are you feeling peaceful this season? Are you feeling joyful? For many, the answer is, “no.” In a season when the reason for the holidays is supposed to be focused on the peace, joy, and hope of the birth of Christ, or on the miracle of the Hannukah oil, or on the unity, purpose, and faith associated with Kwanzaa, the truth is the real meaning is often lost in the hustle and bustle.


Our physical and mental health can also be lost in the holiday bustle, thanks to too-full calendars, shopping, decorating, wrapping, less sleep, relationship stress, poor eating, less exercise, and the mental and emotional toll all of this can take. I know, because I end up seeing more clients just before and right after the holidays, due to holiday-related stress, than any other time of year. They often show up right after Thanksgiving, then disappear during the middle of December, and reappear after the new year, exhausted and in need of succor.


I also know, because I’m not much better than my clients. I try to be, but I feel it every year—the push to “get it all done,” the high expectations I put on myself to make this “the best Christmas ever,” or to make handmade gifts for my family, or to host a party for friends, or to attend too many events, or to keep adding “to do’s” on to my already-full family schedule when all we really want is “to be.


That’s what I’m seeking this holiday season—a little less “doing,” and a little more “being.” I’m seeking to not only talk about but to feel the true meaning of Christmas. I’m seeking to give gifts that matter, that mean something, that last far longer than those that come in a box. I’m seeking greater peace, and joy, and meaning, and love.



How to Feel More Peace & Joy This Season

How can we make the holidays less stressful and more peaceful? How can we feel the joy this season is meant to restore? The following guide is here to help you not only survive, but to truly thrive this holiday season. Read it well, then get out there and do even one thing to make this year the most meaningful, peace-filled holiday of all.


  • Slow down and see. Before you can understand what you really need and desire, you have to stop Slow Down and See: How to Appreciate LIfe's Richness, via www.drchristinahibbert.comall the doing. Even 10-30 minutes of stillness can allow your brain and body to slow down and allow you to get in tune with what’s really going on. Ask yourself, “How am I really doing?” Then, ask, “What wonderful things am I missing in my life because I just haven’t been paying attention?” Too often, we miss the best parts of life because we’re moving too fast, but when we stop and pay attention, we begin to see and feel the true richness life has to offer. Finally, ask honestly,  “What do I need?” Only once you see what’s really going on can you choose to make a change. For more help on this, try this exercise in Slow Down & See: How to Appreciate the Richness of Life or read Stress Management: 15 Proven Ways to Stress Less & Smile More.


  • Simplify. It seems like an oxymoron, but the holidays are when we need simplicity the most. 10 Ways to SIMPLIFY Your Busy Life- www.DrChristinaHibbert.comWhatever you can cut out of your schedule, do it. For instance, I recently took a few months off of seeing clients and a month 1/2 off of blogging so I could focus more on family and self-care. Say a polite “no” to extra events you just don’t need or even to sending Christmas cards. Opt for a movie night with your kids, in PJs, instead of throwing a party or having a night on the town. Let go of the need to make everything look perfect and instead do the bare minimum decorations. And when it comes to presents, try “The 4-Gift Christmas.” It’s made a world of difference in my family, and it could just do the same for you.



  • Give gifts of meaning. I decided this year to give my family the gift of a more loving me. So, on "The 5 Gifts of Meaning," via www.drchristinahibbert.comDecember 1, I put myself to work on being more loving. Each day, I’ve been looking for ways to actively put more love into my family’s life. When I start to feel stressed or overwhelmed by my kids (which happens often!),I stop myself so I can instead seek the more loving alternative. I move to a quiet area and pray for help to change how I feel and show me a better way to be. I sit and feel the frustration or worry or whatever it may be. And when I’m ready, I go back and approach my family in a more loving way. I’m still learning, and I’ve got the rest of this month to practice (and all of next year–“Loving” is my new yearly theme!). So, I know I will improve, and that’s what counts. The best gifts don’t come in a box. This season, create a more meaningful holiday by giving gifts of meaning. For more ideas how to do this, check out “Create a More Meaningful Christmas with The 5 Gifts of Meaning” and “Give the Gift of Hope.”


  • Focus on relationships. How much more meaningful can we get than to improve relationships Love Greatly, "Mental Illness, Stigma & Suicide: Finding Hope in the Darkest Times"; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comthat need improving, connect with those with whom we need to connect, and spending time with those we love most? Make your holiday activities about strengthening relationships this year. My example, above, of seeking to be more loving is one way to focus on and improve relationships. It’s also a time to look for ways to spend quality time with those who mean the most to you. And if you’re struggling with family relationships, use my Holiday Relationship Stress Survival Guide to get you back on the right track.


  • Create joy. Don’t wait around to feel joyful. Instead, try acting cheerfully. No matter how you feel, you can choose to be of good cheer, and when you do, you’ll find you begin to feel more joyful as a result. If you want more joy this season, seek to create it. Smile on purpose. Seek ways to laugh more. Look for the good, and put more positivity into your vocabulary and emotions. Isn’t this what the holidays are all about? Joy, love, peace, hope, cheer? Let the good stuff begin with you. For some great ideas on how to be more cheerful, read Be of Good Cheer: 12 Ways to Become More Cheerful!


 How are you surviving and thriving this holiday season? Share your tips, thoughts, and ideas, by leaving a comment, below!

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10 Ways to SIMPLIFY Your Busy Life

10 Ways to SIMPLIFY Your Busy Life; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comSimplify. Don’t you love that word? That concept? I sure do. I love the idea of a simpler life.


Simpler doesn’t mean simple or boring. No. For most of us, life will always be anything but that. To me, simplifying means to move from a “busy, overwhelming, or stressful” life to a “full, rich, and meaningful life.”


Ask yourself, “Is my life busy? Too busy? Overwhelming? Stressful?” “Is my life full? Rich? Meaningful?” Where do you fit in this spectrum? Do you need to make some changes in your life? Simplifying your busy life is all about time—first and foremost, it’s about taking the time to implement strategies that lead to a simpler life. Then, it’s about using your time efficiently and effectively so the end result is a healthier, happier you.


I recently had the opportunity to sit down with international time management expert and host of “Getting a Grip on Time: Do More With Less,” Robyn Pearce. Boy was she full of excellent, practical tips for making the most of your time! Our discussion not only produced a great radio show, it inspired me to want to share a few things I’ve learned about simplifying life, too.

Listen to “Simplify Your Busy Life” on Motherhood Radio, or watch the “Simplify Your Busy Life” interview on my YouTube channel.

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10 Ways to SIMPLIFY Your Busy Life
Here are ten of my favorite ways to simplify life, to get out of the “busy,” “overwhelmed,” and “stressful” life and into the “good,” “happy,” and “abundant” life!


1) Slow down and get still.

This is my number one. If we don’t make time to slow down and be still, we won’t know the truth—the truth about where we currently are, the truth about where we desire to be, and the truth about what we really need from life right now. We miss life when we fail to slow down. We miss opportunities for spiritual connection, opportunities to hear and follow the whispers that lead to a more meaningful life.


Make stillness a priority. Start with 5 minutes. Then, build up to 10, 15, 30, or more. Use your time to ponder life, to pray, to study inspiring books and scriptures, to meditate, and to get in touch with what matters most to you.



2) Decide what matters most.

If you want to simplify, you simply must know your priorities. What’s most important in your life?

10 Ways to Simplify your Busy Life;

My family is one of my top priorities, but I have to make a concerted effort to create quality time with each child and with my husband.

What are your values? What are your top five things that matter most? You may value family, faith, work, play, relationships, fun, cleanliness, or a host of other things. Getting still can help you get honest and remember what matters most to you.


First, list all the things that are important to you. Then, narrow your list to your top five. List them on a sheet of paper, in a journal, or on your smartphone.



3) Prune by priorities.

Now, are you spending your time according to what matters most to you? For instance, if you really value family time, do you spend the most time with your family? If not, then why not? If we want to simplify life, we need to live according to our priorities. Stress, overwhelm, busyness, and emptiness come from living out of line with our priorities–from living a life of distraction, trying to keep up with others, chasing fame or fortune, or perfectionism.


Write down how you’ve spent your time over the past week. Be honest, and write down all the different kinds of things you did. Now, compare this list to your list of what matters most, from above. Do the two lists compare? If not, then start pruning. Start to look for the things that don’t measure up to your priorities and prepare to let them go.



4) Plan ahead, and schedule your time.

We schedule work, appointments, and activities with other people, but what about your top priorities? Are they on your “to do” list? Are they in your schedule? If you value exercise, sleep, and good health, are these things on your daily schedule? If you know you need stillness in your life, is it a part of your daily routine and plan? The truth is that if we don’t plan and schedule the most important things, then we probably won’t get to them.


Plan ahead to make sure you are focusing on the most important things in your life. Schedule time for you. Schedule time for relationships. Schedule time for exercise, sleep, and healthy eating. Schedule time for play. Oh, and remember to keep your appointments with yourself just as you would with someone else!



5) Do the most important things first.

This is so important when it comes to simplifying life. When you do the most important things first, then the rest just falls into place. You start to feel more balance in your life, and you find you no longer waste as much time and energy on distractions and unimportant things.


When you make your daily “to do” list, be sure to put your “things that matter most” on your list. Then, write an “A,” “B,” or “C” next to each item on your list. Make your priorities “A” items, along with the most important family, home, faith, work, and personal activities. “B’s” are the things you need to get to, but aren’t essential today. “C’s” are “would be nice to do” items. Then, cross off the “C” items. You’re not going to have time for them, and they aren’t important today! Then, cross off your “B” items. You’re probably not going to have time for these either, so just simplify your list and get rid of them. IF you happen to get to a few “B” items after your “A’s” are complete, then yay for you! But in the meantime, you’re taking the pressure off and simplifying your day.



6) Manage your time and your energy

“Time management is really energy management.” This was one of my favorite tips Robyn gave in our radio interview, because she is so right! It’s really about making sure we have enough energy to not only fulfill our responsibilities, but to live the life we desire. As Robyn writes, “Around the world I’m hearing the phrase ‘energy management’ more and more. Think of your energy levels as your filter or indicator as to whether you’re doing the right things. Sluggish energy is a powerful clue – if something isn’t flowing smoothly there are almost always ways to either change activity or improve things. A good filter question: ‘What’s blocking my energy here? What can I do about it?’” (Read more in “Eight Top Time Management Tips”.)


One thing to keep in mind is how much time you’re spending on social media, the internet, TV, etc. It’s so easy to hop on Facebook in the morning or to check email, but how often does that suck you into a time warp and before you know it, it’s been an hour, or longer? These things, though “fun” or entertaining in the short term, can actually be energy drains, distracting your precious energy away from the most important things. Be on the lookout for things that take your time and energy away from your top priorities and push them off until later. Or, set a timer for yourself and then, mind it! Also, seek to do the hardest or most important tasks when you are most energized. For example, I’m a morning person, so I know that if I write or tackle chores in the morning, I’m much more efficient and far less stressed!



7) Learn to say a loving “no.”

Saying no is not a horrible, mean thing. In fact, it may be one of the most loving things you can do—for yourself and for others. Years ago, I learned that saying no to something is really saying “yes” to 10 Ways to SIMPLIFY Your Busy Life- www.DrChristinaHibbert.comsomething better. Instead of focusing on saying “no” to helping a friend, think of saying “yes” to being there when your child needs you. Perhaps saying “no” to a night out with coworkers is really saying “yes” to building your relationship with your spouse.


A good tip is to only say “yes” to things that energize you—if you really have time and space in your life to do those things. Be honest with yourself about that! Sometimes, even the things that energize us need to wait until a better time. Then, be sure to say “no” to things that zap energy. You can say “no” in a kind, loving way. And saying no helps others, too, by setting healthy boundaries and helping them have realistic expectations.



8) Eliminate physical clutter.

We all know the concept of “a clean house is a sign of a clean mind.” While I’m not advocating for spending unnecessary time on housekeeping, it definitely helps to reduce the clutter at home.


Clear out one closet, cupboard, or room a couple times each week until things feel more organized. Develop a system that helps you stay clutter free. As Robyn suggests, “Instead of saying ‘I’ll just put it here while I think about it’, get into the habit of letting go. The reality is, even if you do think about it again, why would you want to?”



9) Eliminate mental/emotional clutter by practicing letting go.

Just like the physical clutter, we often hold on to mental clutter that weighs us down. Past hurts, 10 Ways to SIMPLIFY Your Busy Life; #WhoAmIWithoutYou #quotesheartache, depression, grief, sorrow, fear, worry, anger, anxiety—the list goes on, and it only makes life more complicated, heavy, and miserable. Simplifying your busy life means dealing with your mental and emotional “baggage” so you can stop carrying it around all the time.


This article, “5 Steps to a Clutter Free Mind (& Life), is a great place to start. Then, practice letting go. FEEL the emotions that come, and then let go of them a little piece at a time. If you’re feeling grief over the loss of a friend, for instance, you might first let go of the sadness of not being able to see them at work anymore. Then, let go of not being able to go out on the weekends together. Eventually, you can let go of the pain of not having them to be there for you, and so on.



10) Build in “sanity gaps.” Robyn mentioned the concept of “Sanity Gaps” in our interview, and I love it. It’s a great way to reinforce the fact that we need time for fun, for relaxation, for rest, and replenishment. “Think of taking regular time off as a defrag of your brain,” Robyn says. “You’ll come back fresher and you’ll also produce better results (just like the computer!)”


Be sure to schedule “sanity gaps” into your days and weeks, and to keep your “sanity appointments!” They are just as important as any other important, in fact, perhaps, more so. They are the little things that keep you sane. What could be more important than that? (Read Robyn’s “Eight Top Time Management Tips” here.)



Learn more about Robyn Pearce, and get her FREE “How to Master Time” Report and FREE Time Resources Pack, on her website,




Be sure to check out my New show, “Motherhood,” on!

Link for this episode: Simplify Your Busy Life

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The Family that FEELs Together Heals Together–The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

The Family that FEELs Together Heals Together; #motherhood #mentalhealth #radioshowFamily life can definitely be stressful. Whether it’s the daily stress of activities, learning, problem-solving, emotional support, and the exhaustion of it all, or the bigger stressors, like illness, death, divorce, job loss, and financial concerns, all families need a little healing from time to time.


When stressful times come, they bring with them powerful emotions, and it can be a challenge to know how to handle both the stress and emotions, and especially how to help our kids and families do the same. As I wrote in This is How We Grow:

  “Powerful emotions can make even the sanest feel on the verge of crazy. Grief, anger, sadness,   pain, fear, can feel intense, out of control, and downright scary. Like caged predators, we box this emotions up and stuff them deep in an effort to prevent the frightening consequences we envision if they were ever to escape. We fear powerful emotions, because we believe they will overtake us. We fear that that once they are free, we may never be free of them again.

       ‘All emotions, powerful as they may appear, are simply that—emotions, like the clouds that float across the sky, which never stay for long. Though they appear threatening the most they can do is rain or hail or snow for a little while. In raining, hailing, snowing, the clouds lose their power. They literally dissipate. So it is with emotions.” (Chapter 15 Intro)


There are many ways to deal with powerful emotions–to help them lose their power, and to help our families heal. One of the mostFEEL-How to Cope with Powerful Emotions (plus video); helpful tools I’ve learned is something I call “FEELing” emotions. To me, FEEL means “Freely Experience Emotion with Love” (This is How We Grow).


That last part is especially important–with LOVE. Too often, we try to force ourselves to feel something other than what’s really going on inside, or we ignore our emotions, or we deny them outright. But none of these will lead to emotional healing. And none of these is loving.


When we love ourselves through life’s challenges, and through the difficult emotions that accompany those challenges, we find peace. As we sit with each emotion, recognize it for what it is, let the feelings come, and remember that the FEELINGS are not US, we find that they do dissipate. We do find we do become free. (Read more on how to FEEL, and watch a video on it, here.)



Emotional Freedom Technique

Another tool for dealing with stress, trauma, and difficult emotions is something I just learned about in Elizabeth Mary Hancock, my “Motherhood” radio show interview this week with my new friend, Elizabeth Mary Hancock–Coach & Host of The Happy Family World Summit. It’s called the Emotional Freedom Technique/Tapping (EFT). In this show, titled “The Family that FEELs Together Heals Together,” Elizabeth Mary and I discuss how this technique helped her overcome birth trauma and led to a beautiful birth experience with her second child, and then she teaches me how to do it, too.


When stress or trauma comes, your nervous system reacts, leading to the “fight, flight or freeze” responses–raising your heart rate and blood pressure, making your breathing quick and shallow, and so on. We also tend to have thoughts about the stressful situation–thoughts like, “I can’t handle this,” or “I’m going to die!”


The Emotional Freedom Technique uses tapping to help you release both the physical response to the trauma and the thoughts associated with it. The idea is that EFT switches off that nervous system response, and it can work very quickly. Of course, very traumatic events will take longer to heal, but this technique is a simple, potentially powerful way to help yourself and your family.


During our interview, Elizabeth Mary did EFT with me, to help me release the stress and trauma of a recent car accident I was in. I found it very relaxing, and I especially enjoyed the positive messages she helped me create to replace the negative, stress-based thoughts I’d been harboring about the accident. It did make me feel calmer, and I actually did it with myself the next day when feeling stressed, and it calmed me again.


Below is the chart we promised, in the interview, to share, so you can see exactly where the tapping points are and follow along as Elizabeth Mary “taps” with me. You start by tapping on the “karate chop” part of the hand, as she explains in our radio demonstration, and then, you tap on these specific areas while you express what you really feel and create a new “script” for yourself that’s more helpful and peaceful.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) Tapping Points; from The Family that FEELs together Heals Together; #EFT #mentalhealth #families


Family Healing

Because it’s simple and focuses on six (or 7) simple “tapping points,” the Emotional Freedom Technique is something you can also do with your children, and you can teach them to use it

Our family christmas photo, 2007, taken just three weeks after I gave birth and inherited my two nephews, going from 3 to 6 kids. I wrote about this in "This is How We Grow." Don't I look "fine?" Look closer. I definitely wasn't.

Our family christmas photo, 2007, taken just three weeks after I gave birth and inherited my two nephews, going from 3 to 6 kids. I wrote about this in “This is How We Grow.” Don’t I look “fine?” Look closer. I definitely wasn’t. But thanks to hard work and FEELing, I am now, and so is my family.

themselves. It’s just one of many “healing” tools you can add to your emotional health toolbox. So, check out this important show, here, and then try the EFT technique yourself.


My hope is that, whether you use the EFT technique, the FEEL technique, or whether you focus on your own techniques, that you will make your family’s, and your own, emotional health a top priority.


Be willing to look at tough emotions. Remember they are just emotions–they are not you! Feel them, and then, choose to let them go. Then, repeat again and again, until you feel the healing begin.

More about Elizabeth Mary Hancock:


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Link for this episode: The Family that FEELs Together Heals Together!

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Register for the Happy Family World Summit Today! FREE. Online!

Register for this awesome FREE on-line event to listen to top international experts, including me, who will help you to fall in love with being a parent again! You will feel inspired and ready, fully equipped to create the calmer, happier and more loving family you deserve

 And be sure to check out my interview on June 15, 2015, “Growing through the Motherhood Experience!” (You can even download it and listen later!)





For More Strategies on FEELing and Healing, check out these posts:

FEEL: How to Cope with Powerful Emotions (plus video) 

Fear Does Not Prevent BAD; It Prevents GOOD: How to not let fear get the better of you 

5 Steps of Overcoming: Depression, Grief, Anger, PPD, hormones, etc…

5 Tips to Turn a Rainy Day Sunny: Overcoming Feelings of Depression

Grief & The Family

Understanding and Overcoming Anger: “I do not want to be an angry person!”

Coping with Loss & Trauma

Thought Management Part 1 & Part 2 (plus video) 




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How to Get Your Needs Met: 4 Tips on Asking & Receiving

Some time back in graduate school I realized that if I don’t ask for help when I need it, it might never come. Like so many women, I’d spent the first several years of my marriage expecting my husband, OJ (no, not Simpson), to just “see” what I needed, wanting him to “notice on his own,” feeling that if I had to actually tell him what was wrong then he obviously didn’t love me well enough. Sound familiar?


We’ve all seen this before, whether in a friend, on TV or in our own relationships. But friends, I hate to break it to you—if you don’t ask for what you need you can’t expect to receive it. It’s a lesson old as scripture, “Ask and ye shall receive” (John 16:24). Yet how often do we forget to ask, standing like fools waiting endlessly for a thing that will never come. Instead, try letting go of your expectations and pride and asking. Asking is, after all, the key to receiving.


How to Get Your Needs Met: 4 Tips

1) Before you can ask for what you need, you have to know what you need.

Often we don’t ask because we simply don’t know. Taking stock of our needs on a regular basis is a good idea for overall well-being in all realms: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual. The sooner we recognize a need and fill it, the easier life becomes; we end up preventing the bigger problems that arise when needs pile up over  time. Thus, examining your needs is an important tool, and the first step of asking for them to be met.


2) Once you know what you need to ask for, state it clearly.

Too often we know what we need but fail in our attempt to communicate it. We beat around the bush, mince words, or hint at what we need, again hoping the other person will just “get it” and take care of things. But people are not mind readers, and most of the time others just aren’t good at filling in the blanks. Stating clearly what you need is crucial to actually getting it. The more specific you are, the better. Don’t just say, “Honey, I need a nap sometime, maybe.” Say, “Honey, I need a nap, so if I go in my room now for an hour would you please watch the kids and actually play with them and guard the door so they won’t wake me up?” with a smile of course. (Obviously I have personal experience with this one). Be clear. Be direct. Be willing to ask for exactly what you need.


3) Ask the right person.

Not everyone is equipped to give you exactly what you need. If you need help with childcare, ask someone who loves your child; if you need help with housework, ask someone who knows how to make a bed. If you need someone to just listen, ask someone who can let you be the focus of the conversation for a while. Just because one person isn’t able to provide what you need doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be asking. Keep asking until you find the one willing and able to serve you best. Also, don’t be afraid of “putting them out” or “burdening them”. Just as it is your responsibility to take care of what you need, they are responsible for their needs and can say no if they choose. As one of my favorite wise men once said, “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.”[1] Allowing others to meet our needs blesses them with the opportunity to serve and grow too. It’s a win-win situation.


4) And finally: Don’t forget to ask your Higher Power.

Connecting to the Source that knows and understands your needs better than anyone is the surest way to receive what you need. Sometimes it comes as a change in how you feel or in a whisper that lets you know you’re not alone and that you are loved. Sometimes it’s a sudden knowing–that light-bulb moment of what you must do, or the motivation, perhaps, to actually do it. It may come in the form of a dream, a song, or a piece of art that speaks to your soul. Or it may be a feeling of peace that sweeps over you, a quiet sense that everything will be ok. The act of asking is an act of faith, and, faith is the beginning of all things that come into being.


Ask and Receive

You’ll be amazed how easily your needs can be met if you simply ask. Get clear on what you need. Seek out the person to best help you fill that need. Seek the Divine. And ask. Then, stand, ready to receive.


[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. She’s worked very hard over the years to ask for what she needs, and is finally feeling like she’s actually pretty good at it. And that, she sees, is good for everyone.[/author_info] [/author]


How to Get Your Needs Met-4 Tips on Asking & Receiving,


Have you ever struggled to identify and get your needs met? Do you ever feel like you don’t know how to do it, or like you might not even deserve it? Leave a comment, below, and let us know your thoughts and tips on asking and receiving.


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[1] Hinkley, G. (1979). The Abundant Life. Tambuli, June, vol. 3.

FEEL: How to Cope with Powerful Emotions (plus video)

FEEL-How to Cope with Powerful Emotions (plus video), www.DrChristinaHibbert.comPowerful emotions can be scary. Grief, anger, sadness, pain, fear, can feel intense, overwhelming, and out of control. We fear feeling powerful emotions because we believe they will overtake us; we fear that once they are free, we may never be free of them again.

So, we ignore, distract ourselves from, and eventually box these emotions up and shove them deep down, like caged predators, in an effort to prevent the frightening consequences we envision if they were ever to escape. But, as a wise woman once said, “Just because your feelings are buried alive doesn’t mean that they die.”(1) In fact, the longer feelings are buried, the more they fester and grow, until they control us, stronger than ever.


Emotions are Simply Emotions
What are we really afraid of? Sure, they feel immense, but all emotions, however powerful as they may appear, are simply that—emotions. Like the clouds that float across the sky may appear threatening, the most they can do is rain or hail or snow for a little while. Emotions are the same. And in raining, hailing, snowing, the clouds lose their power. They literally dissipate. So it is with emotions. We fear their threatening appearance and run from the rain of feelings, but it is only through allowing the rains to fall that the darkness and threat eventually drains away and disappears. Feelings, once felt, don’t stay for long.


FEEL Emotions
Instead of running from, ignoring, burying, or fearing emotions, we need to FEEL them. And by FEEL, I mean: Freely Experience Emotion with Love. It’s not easy, especially if you’re used to ignoring feelings, but this 3-Minute Therapy YouTube video, “How to Cope with Overwhelming Emotions” shows you how, so check it out. It’s well worth 3 minutes of your time.

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FEEL to Heal
You don’t have to force it. Simply let yourself feel what is there. When anger comes, feel angry. If fear has you in its grips, really focusFEEL-How to Cope with Powerful Emotions (plus video); on feeling that fear. When sadness weighs like a boulder on your heart, feel sad. Cry. Scream. Hear yourself say you may never get up again. Feel it. Then, love yourself. Be kind. Compassionate. Take care of yourself. And the pressure will loosen, just a bit. The chest will inhale just a little easier.

Only after you FEEL will you begin to heal. As you sit with your emotions, feel them, and love yourself through, you take the control back. The emotions no longer remain stuck and festering, but begin to unfasten themselves from being a part of you. And it is only then that you will see, they never really were. (Adapted from my bestselling memoir, This is How We Grow, now available on!)





How do you cope with powerful emotions? Have you tried to FEEL them? Leave a comment, below, and let us know!




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(1) Iyanla Vanzant, Oprah’s Lifeclass.

Hearts Breaking in a Broken World: 7 Ways to Heal from Tragedy Together

I remember when the earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010. A postpartum mom still in the midst of my own life’s traumas, I got my kids off to school, then spent the day nursing my baby, watching the news, and crying. I spent the next day nursing my baby, watching the news, and going online to donate money. It was all I could think to do at the time. And I wanted to do something. I still want to do something.


Hearts Breaking: We Want to Help

Every time another tragedy hits our community, nation, world, my heart breaks. And I know mine isn’t the only one; I know the hearts of so many of you are breaking too. We all want to do something, don’t we? We want to show love to those who’ve been hit hardest with loss; we want to change the way things are, and make the world a safer place.


Personally, I’d love to find all the troubled souls who have and will perpetrate horrific crimes and rehabilitate them before they take their anger, pain, and lack of love out on the innocent anymore. But, sad to say, most of them could never be rehabilitated even if I could find them and even if they received the top treatments. Some people are, unfortunately, so damaged, they can’t let themselves be repaired.


Helping Us Heal

So, instead, I want to help us. I want to bring us a little understanding in the midst of so much insanity. I want to make sure we all know we’re in this together, and I want to help us help each other heal. Thus, I’m sharing just a few of my thoughts, in hopes that they will help someone help someone heal. After all, we can’t do this alone. We’re in it together. We hurt together; we heal together.


7 Ways to Heal From Tragedy Together

1)   Whether natural or human-made, each tragedy hurts all of us. From 9-11 to Columbine, to Katrina to  Sandy Hook, to Haiti to Boston, each community, national, and world hurt takes a little piece of our heart. We are connected, and when one of us hurts, we all hurt. That’s the difference between “us” and “them,” the perpetrators. “They” don’t know we’re all connected. They don’t feel others’ hurts, only their own. But we feel for each other, and that’s why national and world tragedies wound us so deeply. We feel, and that’s a good thing.


2)   It should hurt, shouldn’t it? After every tragedy, my clients come in saying, “I don’t know anyone affected directly, but I just hurt. I don’t understand why this hurts so deeply when it’s not happening directly to me.” And I say, “But it is happening directly to you. You may not have the physical wounds to show, but, emotionally, we are all wounded.” It’s good to feel the pain of collective wounds. It means that we care.


3)   Tragedy needs empathy. Without empathy, tragedy becomes “the norm”. If we don’t feel the pain of others’ suffering, we let it Hearts Breaking in a Broken World-7 Ways to Heal from Tragedy Together, www.drchristinahibbert.comcontinue as if it’s ok. And ignoring suffering is not ok. The cure to tragedy is empathy, for empathy means we’re in this together. It means, “You’re not alone and neither am I.” Empathy heals us, heals others, heals the world.


4)   So, empathize. It hurts when we empathize. We think, “What if that were me?” and we know that it could have been or still could be. When we empathize with others, we feel their pain. It’s hard to do, but it’s so important. For empathy is the cure for shame, pain, and suffering. If all the perpetrators in this world had received just a little more empathy in their lives, would I be writing this right now? Perhaps not. Empathize. Cry for the lost. Feel their pain. Let it be yours for just a little while.


5)   It’s also ok to put the pain away and go back to the life right in front of you. We don’t need to get swallowed up in others’ pain; in fact, when we get swallowed up, it can make things worse. We don’t need to (and shouldn’t) watch the news 24/7, hearing every story of loss. It’s too much, and it only leads to greater anxiety, pain, and fear. It’s ok to focus on our own lives. It’s ok to smile and laugh and keep on living. It helps nothing to let fear and pain stop us in our tracks. Live life and keep on living. It’s ok. It honors those who cannot do the same. It’s the best way.


6)   Some people are more sensitive to others’ pain, and tragedy can trigger painful memories of our own. Some people feel the weight of tragedy more than others, and that’s ok. It means you’re empathic, and we’ve already established empathy is a really good thing. Those of us who’ve experienced traumas of our own are also more susceptible to re-experiencing those emotions when new traumas arise. As I say, “What the mind forgets, the body remembers.” When others suffer, it often brings up our own past suffering, whether we want it to or not. That’s why Haiti hit me so hard. Being in the midst of my own grief and loss, I felt the loss of the Haitians as if it were my own. Sometimes, emotions we thought we’d already worked through years before are suddenly right on the surface again, begging for attention.We think, “I already dealt with you. You shouldn’t be here.” But pushing them away doesn’t help long term. They just keep showing up. Instead, we must slow down, breathe, and feel what we feel. Deep breath. Feel it. It’s painful, yes. But feeling is the way to healing. 


7)   We simply need to show up. That’s all we really need to do. Show up for ourselves. Feel what we feel. Show up for others. Be there to feel it with them. Show up for our communities, nations, for our world. That’s all we really need to do. Just keep showing up.



What are you feeling? Sharing our fears, worries, heartaches helps us heal. I hope you’ll leave us a comment, below, and share yours with us.


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Slow Down & See: How to Appreciate the Richness of Life

“Slow down and See”:

How to Appreciate the Richness of Life

I’ve had mixed emotions this past week, as I’m sure many of you have. From holiday celebration to national tragedy, my heart and mind have been churning.

It’s easy to let the turmoil of the world weigh us down. And it’s just as easy to keep ourselves so busy that we don’t have to feel much of anything. But, there’s another option–a better one–based on the meaning of the holiday season and the gift that turmoil can offer. It is to  slow down and embrace the richness that is all around us.

That’s what this week has given me—more focus, more reverence, more presence, and more of “me” in my life. It has halted me in my tracks and shown me what really matters once again. And my heart is bursting with gratitude.

So today I would like to share the words I’ve been coming back to all week, an excerpt from my upcoming memoir, This is How We Grow (2013). I wrote this in December, 2007, during one of my most turmoil-filled times, and it is my gift to you this holiday season. May you be filled with hope and love, and may you choose to slow down, see, and embrace the richness that life holds in abundance.


“Slow Down & See”

“Living life in the fast lane may get us where we think we want to be in a hurry, but how much do we miss as we fly on by? Everyone I know is busy. There are mouths to feed, bills to pay, things to get done, and hopefully some fun added in the mix as well. It’s not a bad thing to be busy; it’s part of life. But too often we fail to see the beauty and richness simply because we’re going too fast. The slower path is the path of patience, and the gift of the path of patience is the opportunity to see.

Slowing down, breathing deeply and taking a good, long look around enables us to see our gifts, lessons, blessings, and strengths, and to choose to appreciate and learn from them. Sometimes life’s circumstances will knock us out of our fast lane, but more often than not slowing down is a choice we each must make for ourselves. It usually takes conscious effort to slow down and see. As one author writes, “…calm is something you must go after, whereas stress comes after you” (Emotional Freedom, Judith Orloff,p. 38).

It is precisely when stress is coming after us that we most need to slow down and see. Seeing can calm us and open our eyes to what really matters. Seeing involves all the senses—hearing a bird’s song, smelling the love in the dinner on the stove, tasting the salt of a falling tear. By simply noticing the beauty of the world in which we live, we begin to actually see it.

Another way to see is to sit still and search within yourself. The following exercise I do with my clients might help:

     Close your eyes, get comfortable, inhale, exhale. Imagine entering a dark room. This room represents your life—emotions,       relationships, experiences, dreams, desires, and who you intend to become. You close the door behind you and are enveloped in deep blackness. Slowly, you take out a shiny silver flashlight and flip the switch. Using your flashlight, look around the room little by little. Illuminate every nook, corner, and crevice. Take a searching look at your life—your activities, time, relationships, stresses, successes, blessings, weaknesses, strengths. Be willing to see the areas that need improvement. Be willing to appreciate all the good you see. Be willing to see all the little things that you may have missed along the way. Do not judge. Instead, just focus on letting yourself see everything. Breathe. And let it all be.

As we exit the speeding highway and opt for the slower, scenic route, we find a richness to life, and we wonder how we’ve missed it all this time. We catch the beautiful moments shining right in front of us. And we see. We see our life. We see where we have been. We see where we are headed and have an opportunity to decide if we need to alter our course. We see one another. And when we see, we can’t help but be filled with gratitude and peace, for we no longer miss the blessed gifts sparkling in the gutter that once seemed to be our life. We bend down, see the jewel and choose to pick it up, and, in this way become a little bit richer each time we slow down and choose to see.” (from: This is How We Grow, Hibbert, 2013).




Reach out and share with us: What has your heart been saying to you lately? What helps you “appreciate life’s richness”? Please leave us a comment below! And–Warm and Love-filled Holiday Greetings to one and to all!


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Achieving Balance: Why You’ve Got it Wrong & How to Get it Right

"Achieving Balance: Why You've Got it Wrong & How You Can Get it Right" via

“I need more balance in my life!” We hear it all the time. That’s because we feel it all the time—that “unbalanced” sensation begging us to slow down and make some drastic changes before we completely burn out!

I sure feel “unbalanced” several times a year (especially December and May!), and it’s a topic that comes up in my office all the time; so it’s safe to say, I’ve learned a thing or two about “balance”. But you might not like what I have to say, because what I have to say about balance is this: “Most of us have got it all wrong!”


Achiveing Balance: Why You’ve Got it Wrong

“Balance” is a myth.

I’ve long felt this to be true, but it’s taken me some time to really grasp why it’s so. “Balance” is not a tangible thing—it’s not like achieving a goal, like getting that new job, finishing your book, or losing weight. “Balance” is a state of being—a by-product of how we live our life. It’s a by-product of the choices we make.

If you’re aiming for “balance,” you’ll miss the mark every time.

There are articles a-plenty telling us how to “find balance” or “create a balanced life,” but while the suggestions in these articles may be helpful, the foundational principle upon which they are based is false. This is the trouble with seeking “balance” and why so many of us never achieve it—because it’s not achievable.

Balance is not something you do. It’s something you feel about what you do.

“Balance” is a sensation, emotion, experience; it’s a noun, or, at best, an adjective (like a “balanced” diet or “balanced” checkbook!). But it’s not a verb—not when we’re talking about this type of “balance”. You can’t tell yourself to “Balance” unless it’s on a beam. So, it’s impossible to just aim for and “achieve” balance, and that’s what gets us into trouble. Are you with me so far?


Achieving Balance: How to Get it Right

So, how can we achieve a balanced state of being?

It’s really about “Choices”.

Instead of seeking for this mysterious thing called “balance” what we really need to focus on are the choices we make each and every moment of each and every day. While we can’t tell ourselves to “Balance,” we can tell ourselves to “Choose” the best options to create the sensation of balance. The action of choosing wisely can lead to feeling “balanced” because our sense of balance is really a consequence of the action of making choices.

Each choice can lead toward or away from “Balance”.

Each choice you make can lead you toward or away from a sense of balance. For example, choosing to watch TV instead of exercising or choosing to say “yes” to another thing instead of a loving “no” so you can have some down time, are both choices likely to lead away from a sense of balance. Whereas, choosing to get to bed early, put healthy foods in your body, and make some time for yourself are likely to lead toward feelings of “balance” and wellness.

 Just because we understand this doesn’t suddenly make us feel balanced.

Even though I know “balance” is a myth, I still cycle around. Life’s circumstances—health, kids, work, and yes, even the choices of others—impact our own choices and can impact that cycle. But understanding these principles can make it easier to see your signs of “unbalanced” life and to know what choices to choose in order to bring balance back around. It might not happen overnight, but focusing on the choices you’re making each day is the surest way to finally “achieve balance”.



What do you think? Is balance really a myth? What are your strategies for “achieving balance”? I’d love to hear your responses and ideas, so leave a comment below!


#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on!
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The 3 Layers of Self-Care: Build a Healthier, Happier YOU!

The 3 Layers of Self-Care:

Build a Healthier, Happier YOU!

I know some amazing women—beautiful, gifted, talented women. I know women who quilt, bake bread, teach, volunteer. I know women who are excellent mothers, who juggle jobs and church service and still bring dinner to anyone in need. I know women who will show up at your door and help you clean your house, who are always available to help with your kids, who remember the birthday of every single person in your family. I simply cannot  hide my enthusiasm for being a woman and for the women I know—women are incredible.


Selfless or Self-Less?

While we women can be great at taking care of others, however, there’s one thing many of us are not particularly good at—taking care of ourselves. Too many of us confuse “self-care” with “self-ish”. I hear it all the time, “I feel so selfish if I…make my kids ride the bus, hire a babysitter so I can do something I love, soak in a bath with a good book.” But, as a wise friend once pointed out, “How can you be selfish if you don’t even have a self?”

Good question. I have actually found self-less-ness to be much more of a problem for most women than selfishness. I’m not talking about the good kind of selflessness—the kind where you sacrifice for another person out of love and also practice self-care. I’m talking about completely forgetting you even are a self, forgetting what you like or love, forgetting who you are. It can become so pervasive that I end up seeing these women as empty nesters in therapy because, now that the kids have left, they have no idea who they are. Their relationships are in trouble and they feel completely lost. When I ask the simple question, “What do you like to do?” the reply is always the same, “I don’t know—it’s been so long since I’ve thought of doing anything for me.”


Self-Care=Nurturing the Nurturer

Now, I am a believer is sacrifice, in service, even in selflessness. But the truth is, without self-care, we become self-less, or less of ourselves, and that does not benefit anyone. Imagine your list of “to do” items for a week. How effective are you when you’re sick, exhausted, stressed?  We can’t take very good care of everyone else if we aren’t well ourselves. Thus, we must make ourselves a priority, put ourselves on our “list”. I’m not talking about lying around eating bon-bons all day; I’m talking about nurturing the nurturer. Yes, I’m talking about nurturing ourselves through self-care.


The 3 Layers of Self-Care

The way I see it, there are three layers of self-care, or nurturing, that we should incorporate into our daily, weekly and yearly lives. Like building the perfect cake requires a sturdy foundation, so we build upon self-care. When stress or troubles come, we go back to strengthen layer one before we can build layers 2 or 3. So, wherever you are in your self-care, sit up, take note, and then take action. Make sure that “self” of yours is strong, healthy, and happy, by focusing on the 3 layers of self care!


Layer 1–Absolute Necessity Self-Care:

The first layer is what I call “Absolute Necessity Self-Care”—eating right, exercising, sleeping, showering–you know, the basics. This is the foundational layer of self-care, and if it’s not met, you’ll never get to the top layers. Do you make time for a nap when you are run down? Are you filling up on empty calories and caffeine instead of getting out to shop for energy-producing foods? Are you able to squeeze in a shower and get dressed into something other than sweat pants? Basically, are you doing what needs to be done to keep you healthy and well? Listen to your body–if you’re exhausted, stressed, mentally or physically ill, or injured, you are probably lacking in absolute necessity self-care. Stop and decide to take care of yourself. After all, if layer one isn’t met then you not only won’t be effective, you will eventually completely burn out.


Layer 2–Essential Self-Care:

The next layer involves making time for the things that really matter—time to process, to ponder, to learn, to grow, to focus on relationships and connection, to engage in those “extra” essentials that not only keep you physically strong but nurture you spiritually and emotionally. I call this layer “Essential Self-Care,” for though we don’t always believe it, it is essential to create time and space for learning and growing, for the people we love, for those things that add to us and continually remind us of who we really are. Are you making space in your life for the things that matter most to you? If not, and you’re already taking care of layer one, then it’s time to focus on layer two. It’s essential–for, if you are reaching layer two self-care you will find greater energy, connection, light, and love in all that you do.


Layer 3–“Icing on the Cake” Self-Care:

Finally, there is the top layer—“Icing on the Cake” Self-Care. The top layer involves those things that bring the spark right out of us—the fun, relaxing, engaging parts of life. For some, this may involve hobbies or passions, for others it may involve more down time, and for some, work is part of the “icing on the cake.” These are the moments that energize, restore, and light us up; and, though they might happen a little less often, or we may have to make them happen, they are just as important to our overall well-being as the other two layers. After all, don’t you want to be a joyful person, excited by life? If so, then, what lights you up? One thing I love is going to concerts. I forgot that for a while. But now that I know it, I try to go a few times a year. And now that my kids are older and into music, I often take them too. It is a wonderful time together and I always leave feeling motivated to write music or practice more. This is one little example of layer three self-care, the icing on my cake.


Build a Healthier, Happier YOU!

So start today to build a healthier, happier you–examine your physical, spiritual, intellectual, social and emotional sides and take stock of how you’re doing as caretaker of your self. Are you on your “list?” If not, add yourself today. Do something nice for yourself. It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture or take long; it can even involve those you love, but do something today. I guarantee you’ll feel stronger and healthier. And those you love will also benefit from your newfound light and strength.


[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. Learn and Grow with Dr. Hibbert and her community of really great people![/author_info] [/author]


Are you taking good care of yourself? What are your self-care stresses and successes? Which “layer” do you most need to work on? Leave us a comment below!


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5 Tips to Turn a Rainy Day Sunny: Overcoming Feelings of Depression

5 Tips to Turn a Rainy Day Sunny: Overcoming Feelings of Depression

We all have those days when we wake up and it just feels like darkness is all around us. Some have those days quite often. Still others may feel like it’s been months since they’ve glimpsed of the sun.When feelings of depression set in, your whole world and future can feel negative, dark, and clouded. In fact, by definition, depression is a negative view of yourself, the future, and the world. And that’s pretty depressing.

I’ve struggled with depression on and off throughout my life–postpartum depression, and several depressive episodes that lasted for months at a time. I also have days when I wake up and just know that the clouds have socked me in (thank you, hormones!). And I know how hard it can be to overcome the feelings of depression–feelings like frustration, fear, sadness, anxiety, self-disparagement, and isolation. I know it can feel like those emotions have become your identity–like you actually are the depressive feelings.

But let me just tell you–you’re not. Think of it this way. Our emotions are like the weather. We wake up each morning, open the blinds, and find either sunshine, clouds, rain, wind, or snow. Since our emotions are a product of our experiences, our body’s biochemistry, and our thoughts (click here for more on this), we often have little control over the emotions that come our way. Emotions can feel powerful, but, like the weather, can sometimes be impossible to alter. But, also like the weather, we have a choice as to how we deal with the emotions that pop up. If it’s rainy outside, I can choose to stay in and sulk about it, or I can work to put on my galoshes, grab an umbrella, and get out for a while. And who knows? “Getting out” just might lead to a sunnier day.

Overcoming Feelings of Depression:

So how can we turn a rainy day sunny? Here are a four tips to help you get started.

  1. Remind yourself that depressive emotions are a state, not a trait (just like the weather). The definition of emotion is “a state of feeling”. This is hopeful news, for it reminds us that: 1) our emotions are temporary, 2) they can be changed, and 3) that the emotions we feel do not equal who we are. In fact, since emotion is so easily influenced by temporary states like fatigue, stress, and hormone shifts, many of the depressive feelings don’t really mean what they appear to mean. Thoughts can cause feelings too. So start by changing your thoughts to remind yourself, “My emotions are not me.
  2. Accept how you feel. Accepting “what is” is a simple yet powerful tool. If you’re feeling fearful, accept the fear. If you’re feeling hurt, accept the hurt. If you’re feeling depressed, accept the depression. Label it, call it what it is, and do whatever you can to stop pretending it isn’t there. This helps identify what’s really happening and externalizes it from who you are. Remember that “accepting “ how you feel does not mean you “agree” with or “like” it.  Just let go of the fight for what isn’t by accepting what is.
  3. Feel the emotions that comeSometimes fighting depressive feelings or trying to “not feel depressed” is what’s making things worse. Instead, let yourself take the time to feel what is really there. When you’re able to sit with a powerful emotion and really feel it, you’re then working on releasing its power over you. Sit still, focus on the emotion, and let it fill your body. Breathe deeply as you allow the emotion to rise and speak. Notice that you are not the emotion but rather, you’re behind the emotion, observing it. It can help to do this with a trusted friend or partner who can sit and feel it with you. You can also put a time limit on feeling the emotion if it’s very powerful. Even in small doses, the process of experiencing the emotion can help it begin to let go.
  4. Focus on the present moment—right here, right now.  We are often caught up in the future or the past and this leads to greater suffering. In the present moment, you will usually find that you’re OK.  Practice noticing the present and all the good it holds.  Use all 5 senses to take in the sights, tastes, smells, sensations, and sounds around you. Focus on nature or your family to remind you of what matters most to you. If you find yourself drifting back to depressive emotions, take a deep breath and use your 5 senses again. After all, life is only lived and loved in the present–you don’t want to let the rain make you miss it!
  5. Get your body moving. Physical activity is one of the best ways to feelings of depression. Cardiovascular exercise, like walking or running, is particularly good for overcoming fatigue, low energy, and stress, while weight lifting is great for anxiety, tension and self-disparagement. Getting your body moving not only improves your body, it distracts you from the emotions and also generates positive chemicals called endorphins that can make you feel much sunnier. The next time the “rain” sets in, get out for a walk or bike ride, try kickboxing, go hit some golf balls, or hit the weights at the gym. Your body will benefit, and so will your mood!


[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. Learn and Grow with Dr. Hibbert and her community of really great people![/author_info] [/author]


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Do you ever have days that feel “socked in” with rain or snow? What do you do to help you bring the sun? We’d love to hear about your experiences with overcoming depressive feelings, so leave us a comment below!

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