Thursday, December 16, 2021

Holiday Stress

The Christmas holiday can be stressful. Sometimes it is good stress in that we get excited thinking about getting the right gift for someone we love, have fun weaving through stores to search for it, and then getting home to wrap and place it under the tree. Planning meals for many people, shopping, cooking, cleaning up can be stressful but usually that comes with the intention of pleasing and having a wonderful nourishing meal together with warm memories.

But for a good chunk of families in this country, Christmas and New Year's can be times of negative stress. It brings worry about how family connections or the lack of them will play out. People worry about those with addiction issues and if they will be able to manage through another connection while someone they love is in the middle of using. It doesn't quite matter what the addictive substance is. Those addicted to anything cause distress, anger, fear, worry, and sometimes contribute to violence during times when most people want happy and connecting times. They want warm and touching memories, not those that rip the soul apart.

Addiction is a soul illness. Those suffering with addictions, and yes, they suffer too, always have something in their lives they don't want to face. We all experience trauma, disappointment, loss, grief, anger but not everyone becomes addictive over them. Those that do, clearly need help.

Those who are in early recovery often avoid going back to families where addictions are used by other family members in order not to threaten their sobriety. I encourage them to do so when they have to protect the hard work that goes into facing the pain in their lives while remaining substance free.

This is not an easy time for any family where addiction is an issue. 

If matters get out of control with someone using, leave the situation.

If you are the one trying to be sober and matters get too stressful, leave the situation.

It doesn't matter what side you are on, I wish you the courage to take care of yourself. Without doing that, there is no chance of surviving the holiday season with any opportunity to change the matter from distress to peace.




Wednesday, November 3, 2021

   Eating Healthy


Winter is upon us and that means it is time to snuggle in, keep warm, and protect our immune systems. Although we like to think we eat the best we can and take care of ourselves, for those who keep food diaries, it is easy to see how often we slip from our nurturing and health plans.

Winter is a time for healthy soups and avoiding those who might be infectious due to colds or the flu and these days COVID. Avoid processed foods. Avoid eating out by going to fast food establishments.

Be mindful of the energy it takes to do normal activities in cold weather. With the holidays coming up we are more likely to be put under more stress. Shopping for gifts and associating with family often conjures up increased stress.

Five minutes of sitting peacefully in a quiet setting can do a lot for calming the nervous system and helping the mind refocus on what needs to get done. Often people want to push through their chores. This might not be the best idea. Take five minutes. You can do anything for only a mere five minutes and your nervous system, brain, and immune system will thank you in the end.



Friday, October 1, 2021

 Hi Everyone,

Our nation is not where we hoped it would be by now. There is still a pandemic in motion, Congress is still bifurcated, relationships are being defined as those for Trump and those against, divisions are everywhere.

I don't know about you but I find this a tense and negative way to live. In fact, we are one country, one nation, one democracy, with one mission, to show the world democracy works and freedom is a plus no matter how you look at it.

We cannot change the world all at once. But I believe, we can change it one person at a time. Practice the kindness you want. Practice the patience, love, acceptance, humility, and generosity you want. We cannot do this any other way. Our culture has been changed. The world does not view us the same anymore. We don't view us the same anymore. We have to get back to our values, our cultural values of hospitality, manners, and respect.

America thrives on conflicting ideas, the belief in God (that is how America got started), and ingenuity. We have freedom. Without it who will you be? Without it what will our country be?

As a psychotherapist who has practiced systems theory with families since 1978 I can tell you that each of us must come back to and redefine the system of freedom and innovation we want to experience in this country. The arguments about whether you like this or that all has space in America. We can embrace it all. We can embrace everyone. That is what America is. It is a melting pot. Together we can create the best, the healthiest, the kindest and the wisest example for the world.

Next time you go out your front door, carry with you the blanket of peace and kindness. It really does help you have a wonderful day.



Friday, September 17, 2021



Stare at this picture for a while. I found it so fulfilling that I made it the cover for my book, Never Too Late. And don't we each need inspiration. Life has been like it never has in the last 1.5 years leading many of us astray from what fills us. We have become so busy keeping up with the news, struggling to manage working from home, working from offices and keeping safe, wrestling with children who are in school in their bedrooms or kitchens wondering what they are really doing while we sit at computers, keeping distance from friends and family. There is no mistake, this life has taken a strong toll on all of us. Many have our food delivered to avoid crowds and keep our bodies fed and functioning. Perhaps you bought a Peloton to exercise from home or take yoga on line as well. We struggle to use our minds and wisdom to think through all the controversial debates about masks and vaccines and social distancing. It is enough to make anyone feel nuts.

What about your soul? Do you have time for that too? Do you even realize how much your soul needs soul food during these tough times? There is no doubt that we are mind/body/soul and it is imperative that we manage all three. There will never be a full balance of these needs. Nevertheless, we must take 15 minutes out of our day, somewhere in our busy schedule to feel our souls.

Here is a list of ideas to feed the soul - they do not take a lot of time - I strongly encourage you do at least one a day:

- read a poem, read a passage from the Bible, pray, meditate, walk, stare into a flower and notice its    magnificence, write a poem, watch a funny movie, eat a ripe piece of fruit, read a page in your favorite book, sing your favorite song, listen to classical music -

As you can see, there are many things you can do at home if you still don't feel safe going out. Whatever you decide to do, ask yourself what you need and bring it into your day to help balance out the mind/body/soul triad. Doing things in the above list helps diminish the stress of these times that create PTSD and other stress and anxiety disorders.

Have a blessed day,



Thursday, September 16, 2021


I know that the last year and a half has been chaotic and frightening. Before I go on, study this photo, take a deep breath, and relax your nervous system.

One of the issues presented to me hour after hour in my psychotherapy practice was the fear of having additional anxiety added to our normal lives that COVID and its messiness brought to our lives. Let me say this about the appropriateness to the anxiety we have all felt. This anxiety has been a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. Okay, read that again and then a third time.

My point: although the anxiety is unpleasant not feeling high anxiety to all COVID did to our lives, nations, and the world, would have been inappropriate. There is no way anyone could have gone through the last year and a half and not felt acute anxious. I don't care who you are.

Hopefully, that will ease your mind a little. Here is a list of things to help you assimilate and work through some of this anxiety:

1. Write about the elements in your anxiety such as fear of death, loss of job, loss of family, loss of personal control. This anxiety was riddled with fears about many things and still is.

2. Sit in nature and have some quiet time. I know being quiet is tough for many of you but it is imperative that you give your nervous system some relief from the craziness of it all.

3. Eat simple and calming foods: cooked veggies, rice, baked potatoes. No hot spicy foods, no heavy cheesy foods and yes Baked Ziti is my comfort food but I don't eat it when I need to help by body.

4. Drink water and lots of it.

5. Get a message or acupuncture.

6. Walk - keep your body moving. I recommend your walk be a stroll. This is not the time to push your stressed out body.

7.  Pray, meditate - get into your soul and be there -- simply be there.

Know that you are doing your best suffering through the unimaginable. Practice the above items on a daily basis and visualize a white light of hope. Our nation, and you in your own life, have gone through many challenges in the past. You and me and all of us will get through this too. But we will do it together. What one heart cannot handle alone, a million hearts can handle together.  



Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Choosing a Therapist

I do not know how many people are currently searching for a therapist, but being one, I know that the process is not easy, especially if you have never been in therapy before.

When prospective clients call me they want to know everything about me. Where did I go to school? What therapy do I practice? What is my experience? What clients do I like working with the best? The questions are endless.

These questions might be interesting to chat about at a cocktail party when two people are trying to get to know each other but if you are in pain in your life, knowing everything about me does not help you. What will help you to find the therapist who can help you is to ask them one question: Do you treat ______________ and then mention your situation.

In other words, the question would be something like this:

Do you treat gay men just coming out?
Do you treat couples suffering from infidelity?
Do you work with individuals needing to find more passion in life?
Do you work with clients grieving from the loss of a parent?

See how specific that is?

Clients ask me all the time whether I would be willing to work with them using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy skills. Well -- okay -- sure. But when I tell them I haven't seen them yet so I do not give treatment before the problem -- they get frustrated. Someone told them they need CBT and so that is what they want.

No mental or medical health practitioner should ever treat before a diagnosis. It makes no sense. How could I tell you that I like your soup, if I haven't tasted it?

So, my best tip for anyone looking for a therapist is: define your problem into one sentence and know what you want. For example,

I don't know how to communicate with my weed-smoking 16 year-old daughter. I want a therapist who can help me with a parent/teen problem around drugs and communication.

Sometimes screening a therapist can take many phone calls to many therapists but it will be worth it when you find someone who can work with your issue, no matter what school they went to.

Jan Marquart LCSW

Monday, March 18, 2019

New Relationships

Are you in the 'market' for a new relationship? Well you can't go and buy one like you do a blouse at your favorite store. Do you act as if that is what you are doing when you select someone to date? Most of us buy clothes with more discernment than we start a relationship. For instance, do you take the time to find out who he or she really is before you take off your clothes or spill out your entire life in one sitting? It isn't as easy as taking home that perfect blouse.

Relationships, contrary to the quick click computer life we seem to be living these days, takes time. Time! I understand that the beginning of a relationships can be anxiety provoking and make you feel uncomfortable and self-conscious and the eagerness to 'get started' can override slowing things down. Rushing can seem easier than allowing yourself to feel your emotions but you need these emotions. They are normal and may be important warning signs.

Slow down, take your time, ask the difficult questions, meet his or her friends/family. Learn how others interact with him/her and how she/he interacts with them. What kind of activities do you do with this person? Will this person do the activities you like too? Do you just 'hang out' when you really want to 'go out'?

If you are choosing a mate for the rest of your life, isn't the rest of your life worth a good slow start to making sure this is the right person? Find out how this person resolves problems or does he/she just ruminate on the problem then dump it in your lap? What happens when this person gets angry? Depressed? Anxious? How does this person handle money? Are they neat or a total slob not caring about her/his environment?

Relationships are complicated and complex. Take your time. Be authentic. Don't try to make yourself someone you are not. Are you willing to not be yourself at any price?

Before having sex make sure to ask if your new partner has any STDs. How often do they have unprotected sex. If they don't want you to use protection does that mean he/she is willing to become a parent?

Ask the difficult questions. Remember, one date can turn into a nightmare or a really great start to forever.