Author Archives: Tonya Cremin

Treat Your Anxiety Naturally

So many people are experiencing symptoms of stress, overwhelm, or even anxiety these days. The problem isn’t you! We all know these are unprecedented times…here are a few simple ways to help yourself feel a little better.

Make Yourself a Priority. Most of us are extremely busy during the normal course of our days! Taking care of family, home, and working or volunteer activities don’t leave much time for us to take care of ourselves. Focusing the vast majority of time caring for others can leave us feeling depleted, tired, weak, and stressed. But finding even just a few moments each day to relax, refocus and re-energize can often make all the difference. We wouldn’t expect our cars to run without gas in the tank, so why do we expect it of ourselves? Think about the things you enjoyed before all of your adult commitments – was it reading? Painting? Spending time in nature? Playing with your dog? Having coffee with a friend? The key is to schedule some of these into your day – even just 5 minutes can feel like a mini-vacation if you do an activity that replenishes your soul. Maybe you need to put a 10 minute walk around your garden or street after the kids get on the bus, or around campus after you park at work. Maybe keep some adult coloring books in your desk to grab for 10 minutes when you’re on a call or at lunch. Pick something simple, commit to it and you will see benefits in no time!

Relaxation techniques. Mental focus is what all relaxation techniques have in common. Meditation, yoga, guided imagery, breathing exercises and biofeedback are all techniques to help the mind focus away from stressful situations and events in our lives, allowing us to breath freely for a few moments and face our lives with a renewed sense of calm and peacefulness. Trying any one of these techniques may help reduce daily feelings of stress, anxiety and worry. The key is consistent practice. Find an approach you enjoy, and stick to it.

Proper Protein Balance. Our brains require a continuous supply of glucose in order to function properly. Low blood sugar causes symptoms of anxiety, shakiness, heart palpitations, and even sweating. Adding more fiber and protein to your diet may help you maintain more even energy levels, keep your blood sugar under more stable control, and reduce your feelings of anxiety on a day-to-day basis. Eating high protein, high fiber, low fat foods at meals and snacks will help keep your blood sugar levels stable. You may find just adding some high-protein granola or protein powder to your morning oatmeal or smoothie helps your mood throughout the entire day. In addition, choosing yogurt or a protein energy bar instead of sweets or chips for your afternoon snack may help as well.

Exercise. Did you know that regular exercise can be just as effective as medication or counseling to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression? Exercise increases natural endorphins, or “feel-good” hormones, and the levels of several other hormones in the body that affect mood, including serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Walking has been found to help a variety of physical conditions, is inexpensive, and can be done anywhere, at any time. Make a walking date with a friend, your family, or alone, and you’ll get the benefits of social interaction, and nature, as well. Regular exercise may even help you lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, and blood sugars, if you have diabetes. Try something simple, such as walking for about 30 minutes 3-5 days each week. If you only have time for a 5 minute walk, that’s ok! All that matters is that you just get moving.

You don’t have to live with those feelings of stress and anxiety. There are so many simple ways to feel better. If you need help, Dr. Tonya Cremin is a board-certified family physician in Monroe, CT, who can help you determine the best ways for you to feel better. Dr. Cremin focuses on natural approaches to healing, including lifestyle and nutrition changes, herbal and dietary supplements, acupuncture, biofeedback, and osteopathic treatment. Dr. Cremin spends time getting to know you to find the right path to healing for you. To learn more about Dr. Cremin, give the office a call at 203-445-9060 .

Medication-Free Ways to Treat Gout


Did you know that over 9 million people in the United States suffer from gout? That amounts to about 4 out of every 100 people! But if you have a family history of gout, your risk goes up to 1 out of every 5! If you or someone you know has gout, you know the pain can be debilitating and gout “attacks” can be set off by the simplest of things, such as one beer too many, or a nice steak dinner. The typical treatments of gout include anti-inflammatory medications, such as colchicine, or uric acid lowering medication, such as allopurinol, but studies have shown that any anti-inflammatory medication can help. These include naproxen or ibuprofen.

Luckily, there are many ways to prevent and manage gout without medication. My top 3 tips include:

1. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure..

The medical community used to recommend a diet low in purines to help prevent gout attacks. Research over the years has shown that is no longer a necessary approach, although some foods which are high in purines are known to be more likely to bring about a gout attack by increasing the amount of uric acid in our blood streams.

Some simple approaches you can take to reduce the risk of gout or a gout attack include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight and lose weight if that is appropriate for you
  • Drink at least 48 ounces of water daily – that means 6 medium sized glasses each day, at minimum
  • Avoid red meat and organ meats, such as liver. They are very high in purines which is are converted to uric acid in the body and can result in a gout attack.
  • Avoid most seafood for the same reason. If you like seafood, which has so many wonderful health benefits – stick to cold water fish, such as sardines, anchovies, and salmon in small amounts.
  • Drink coffee! 2 cups per day has been shown to help reduce the risk of a gout attack. It doesn’t have to be caffeinated to work, decaf is fine, as well.
  • Eat cherries! 10-20 cherries each day has been shown to reduce gout attacks by 35%-50%. The same benefit is seen by drinking cherry juice – 2-4 ounces every day should do the trick.

2. Nutritional Supplements

Quercetin is a flavonoid found in fruit, vegetables, herbs and wine. It has been shown to reduce inflammation and uric acid. Quercetin is generally safe, and if you want to give it a try, 500 mg twice daily would be the dose. Otherwise, increasing your intake of fruits and vegetable that are high in quercetin would be beneficial for your overall health and may help reduce the risk of gout attacks. Foods high in quercetin include cooked apples, cooked onions, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, and berries.

Bromelain is a group of enzymes found in pineapple. It is used to reduce inflammation and has been shown to reduce gout attacks as well.

3. Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine

Osteopathic manipulative medicine, OMM, is hands-on care. With OMM, Dr. Cremin applies a very gentle and calming approach to subtly realign the bones, joints, muscles, and connective tissues to encourage the body’s innate healing response. Patients have described the treatments as similar to a gentle massage and generally find them relaxing. How can it help gout? OMM is known to help with overall health and well-being, improving blood flow and flow of nutrients in the body, which may help reduce flares and may help improve symptoms during a flare.

Dr. Tonya Cremin Integrative Medicine Primary Care Family Medicine

Medication Free Ways to Treat Back Pain

Medication-Free Ways to Treat Back Pain


Did you know that back pain is the #1 reason for visits to a doctor?
There are so many ways to manage back pain and other types of muscle or joint pain without medication. My top 3 tips include:

1. Staying “Square.”

So much of back pain is due to poor alignment as we go throughout our day, whether it involves putting on shoes, picking a pencil off the floor or getting into the car.It’s important to face your object “head-on” (or “back-on”), keeping yourself  straight ahead before you bend your knees to pick up a pencil, grab something out of a cabinet or sit down in the car.

When you are twisted in any way and then bend or reach, you strain your back and increase the odds that you will injure yourself.

“Stay Square,” and you can help keep your back healthy and pain-free!

2. Nutritional Supplements

SAM-e (s-adenosylmethionine) has been studied extensively for arthritis pain and has been shown to be quite safe and well tolerated in studies lasting up to 2 years. SAM-e has been shown to be as effective as aspirin, ibuprofen or other NSAIDs at relieving pain from arthritis. The usual starting dose is 400 mg daily, and it is safe in amounts up to 1600 mg per day. Most of my patients don’t need to go beyond 800 mg daily. It is best taken on an empty stomach, but it’s ok to take with food if you need to. SAM-e is generally well-tolerated, but side effects may occur at higher doses. Common side effects include stomach upset, nervousness, and loss of appetite. It should be avoided if you are pregnant, or take medications for Parkinson’s disease, depression or anxiety, unless guided by your physician.

3. Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine

Osteopathic manipulative medicine, OMM, is hands-on care. It involves using the hands to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness or injury. With OMM, Dr. Cremin applies a very gentle and calming approach to subtly realign the bones, joints, muscles, and connective tissues to encourage the body’s innate healing response. Patients have described the treatments as similar to a gentle massage and generally find them relaxing. It is even safe during pregnancy. Learn more about OMM here.

Dr Tonya Cremin Osteopath
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Our Difference

So often people have questions about their health that go unanswered because it can be such a hassle to get in touch with your own doctor.

Or maybe you’ve resorted to checking “Dr. Google” when you have questions and then spend time seeking out information. But then how do you even know if that information is GOOD information, reliable, and science-based?

Part of the membership is having access to me WHEN YOU NEED ME. If you have a question or concern, you can just text me or call the office, have a televisit, or, of course, come on in. We always make time for our patients. Even recently while I was on vacation, I helped out 4 of my patients who would have spent HOURS in urgent care or emergency room settings, otherwise. Simple problems to manage, that needed medical care, but because I know my patients well, we were able to manage them through a few texts, and “voila!” The beauty of membership!

I do my best to manage everything I can for my patients. Here in Fairfield County, I’ve noticed that so many people have a specialist for every body part. High blood pressure? Off to the cardiologist. Hypothyroid? Off to the endocrinologist. Skin tags? Off to the dermatologist. Depression? Better see a psychiatrist. Need a pap or have a UTI or yeast infection? Gynecologist. Back pain? Chiropractor or physical therapy. Prefer natural approaches? Naturopath. These conditions and so many others are easily managed by a primary care doctor. But most don’t have enough time in the office to deal with all of these things. And most don’t have training in hands-on approaches to managing pain, or natural approaches to managing any medical condition. I can manage all of these issues and so many more, because I have the time and the training to do so. And this is the type of comprehensive care I love to provide to all of my patients.  I have the training. And I have the time – because I keep my practice small as compared to most physicians. Did you know the average primary care physician carries a patient panel of 2000-3000 patients? That’s why it can take up to 9 months to get an annual physical and why you may never see your own doctor when you have a problem. My practice will be limited to about 300 patients, to ensure that I always have the time for my patients when they need me

Medication Free Approaches to Seasonal Allergies

It’s that time of year again!!! Spring is here.  The skies are clearing, the sun is out, the flowers are blooming and the trees are starting to pop. While most of us probably enjoy this time of year, it comes with some downside for those of us with seasonal allergies. Sniffles, sneezes, itchy, watery eyes….maybe even cough, congestion and a little wheeze. These can all be signs of allergic rhinitis, or “hayfever.”  

You might routinely reach for over-the-counter medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants or even inhaled nasal steroids, which all have their benefits, but often come with unwanted side effects, as well.

Did you know there are many medication-free ways to manage your allergy symptoms? Let’s go through a few simple and effective ways that anyone can use to help your symptoms.

Nasal lavage or nasal irrigation.

Nasal irrigation is a commonly used treatment for symptoms of allergic rhinitis. It involves spraying or inhaling a stream of salt water solution into one nostril and allowing it to drain out of the same or opposite nostril. Traditionally, a neti pot is used, but there are also commercially available plastic squeeze bottles, or you can simply use a clean cupped hand and inhale into your nostril from there. Nasal moisturizing mists are not the same as nasal lavage and won’t have the same benefits.

Nasal irrigation has been well studied for use in allergic rhinitis. Nasal lavage clears nasal passages of mucus, pollutants, pollens and allergens. It also has been shown to reduce inflammation and moisturize nasal passages.

You can buy nasal irrigation solution, distilled or sterile water at any pharmacy. The solution usually comes in a dry powder to be mixed with the distilled or sterile water. Alternately, a simple home recipe for a saline solution is 1/8 teaspoon of non-iodized table salt dissolved in 8 ounces of lukewarm (body temperature) water. Use of boiled, distilled, or sterile water is important to ensure elimination of any bacteria or other pathogens.

How often should you use nasal lavage? Anywhere between 1 and 7 times per day is safe. It makes sense to use it after outdoor activities or at the end of the day to clear your nasal passages of any pollen or pollutants you’ve encountered during the day, at the very least.

It’s important to wash your neti pot or squeeze bottle with hot water and soap after every use to avoid bacteria or fungal growth. Dry it thoroughly with a paper towel to avoid contamination from kitchen or bathroom towels. Never share your neti pot or squeeze bottle with other people.

Wearing a mask.

I know, I know. I can hear you all groaning already. But hear me out. The reason we experience allergy symptoms after being outdoors is due to millions of nearly invisible particles floating through the air and entering our nasal passages, eyes and lungs. Wearing a mask will prevent most of those particles from ever creating a problem in the first place. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right?

Wash your face after outdoor activities.

Sometimes, this is all that is needed to make a big difference in how you feel. Time in the garden, on the soccer field, or walking on the trail allow particles to adhere to our skin, eyelashes and inside our noses – they may not bother you immediately, but after a few hours of exposure, you may find you get stuffy, itchy, and sneezy. Wash your face right after you come in and you may save yourself some discomfort.

Oolong tea.

Several years ago, I read “The Allergy Solution,” by Dr. Leo Galland. I was surprised about some research he mentioned regarding oolong tea being used as a remedy in Japan for allergies. In addition, a study published in 2001, showed that people who drank oolong tea showed significant improvement in eczema that persisted despite use of standard medical treatments.  Eczema and nasal allergy symptoms have similar mechanisms, so it makes sense that oolong might help nasal allergies as well. In addition, oolong tea has also been shown to reduce allergic symptoms in rats.

I have been drinking oolong tea for about 4 years to help with my own allergy symptoms and find it incredibly helpful.  I have my first cup when I wake up and within minutes, my nasal passages are clear. I usually get by with one cup, but as the tree pollen worsens in the spring, I generally need 2-3 cups per day. The traditional treatment is 4 cups per day – a teabag steeped in boiling water for 5 minutes. I prefer organic Chinese oolong, which I have found at my local healthfood store and online.

Quercetin.

Quercetin is a flavonoid found in fruit, vegetables, herbs and wine. It has been shown to reduce inflammation and histamine in some studies. Histamine is the compound that is released and causes us to itch, sneeze, and get congested when we have an allergic reaction. While some people use histamine for seasonal allergies with good results, we don’t have enough good scientific research to recommend it without hesitation. However, quercetin is generally safe, and if you want to give it a try, 500 mg twice daily would be the dose. Otherwise, increasing your intake of fruits and vegetable that are high in quercetin would be beneficial for your overall health and may help your allergies. These include cooked apples, cooked onions, red wine, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, and berries.

Local honey.

Local honey has become a very popular method used to address seasonal allergies. The thought is that the small amounts of pollen in honey cause a response similar to allergy shots and desensitize people to allergens.  However, this theory does not appear to translate to clinical benefit in most research and results have been mixed. One interesting study showed that people who used honey in conjunction with loratadine 10 mg didn’t have any better improvement in their symptoms versus loratadine alone. However, those who used honey with the loratadine had relief from allergies which lasted for at least 4 weeks after discontinuation of the loratadine and the honey. Clearly, more research needs to be done in this area. Honey is generally recognized as safe and if you would like to enjoy some local honey to see if it helps your allergies, feel free to do so. Just remember, never give honey to infants under 1 year of age due to the risk of botulism – a bacterial infection that could be deadly.

To sum it up, seasonal allergies or allergic rhinitis can be problematic for many people this time of year. Over-the-counter and prescription medications or allergy shots (desensitization) can be helpful for many people but may have unwanted side effects. Prevention of symptoms by simple nasal lavage, face washing, and mask wearing may be all you need to do to get some relief and lessen need for other treatment. If you have mild to moderate allergy symptoms, some of these other remedies I discussed today may make a difference for you. Best of luck, let me know if you have any questions, and may you breathe easy!

Dr. Tonya Cremin treats many cases of seasonal allergies without medication. Photo by katemangostar – www.freepik.com

When Can I Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

When can you get the COVID-19 Vaccine? If you live in Connecticut, everyone over the age of 16 is eligible as of April 1! (Nope, not an April Fools’ Day prank!) Let’s help end the pandemic and reduce the spread of COVID. Remember, it’s important to continue wearing your mask and social distancing until new cases drop significantly. We can do this together!

Here is the link for the CT State COVID-19 Scheduling Options page: https://portal.ct.gov/…/COVID-19-Vaccination-Scheduling…

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How Can I Get to Sleep?

So many people struggle with insomnia – difficulty getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. It might not seem like a big deal, but getting inadequate deep and restorative sleep over long periods of time can have serious impacts on your health.

There are several sleep disorders which can make you feel like you never slept a wink, even though you’ve been in bed all night. Obstructive sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome are two medical conditions which can be diagnosed by your physician or a sleep specialist. If you are feeling tired on a regular basis, the first thing you should do is schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor and get a physical evaluation and lab work.

Let’s assume any serious medical disorder has been ruled out and you are healthy. Before you start researching sleep aides, such as supplements or medication, the next thing you should focus on is sleep hygiene.

What is “sleep hygiene?”

Sleep hygiene is the practice of making the sleeping environment as restful as possible. The first step is to limit your activity in the bedroom to sleep and intimate relations. When we perform other activities in our bedrooms, such as homework, hobbies, watching TV or scrolling on social media, our minds connect that space with activity, rather than rest. The light from our electronic devices also trigger our brains to stay awake. Extra activity trains our brain to stay awake when we are in our bedroom and can make it difficult to fall or stay asleep. Consider moving your TV or computer to a public space, such as the kitchen or an office, or covering it when not in use. A good habit is to turn off all electronics an hour before bed, and keep the lights low to signal to your brain that rest is coming.

Take a look around your bedroom.

Is it a space that promotes rest and calm? Can you remove or cover any items that do not promote a sense of relaxation and make you want to curl up for a nap? Clutter in a bedroom, such as piles of laundry, work papers, etc, tug at your subconscious mind and can make it hard to sleep. If you don’t have time to address them before bed, cover them up with a sheet or towel or tuck them away in your closet. Likewise, bright colors and busy patterns may create a stimulus in your brain that says, “wake up!” A clean, neat space, and soft, restful colors and patterns are best for the bedroom. Whatever you can do to feel calm in your sleep space will pay off in “zzzzzzzz.”

Make sure there is no light seeping in… It is important to have the bedroom as dark as possible during the time you want to sleep. This prevents cues to your body to wake up. You can try room darkening blinds or drapery panels, hang a blanket over your window, or wear a sleep mask. Cover up or turn any bright clocks or other electronics away from your bed to make sure your room is very dark.

Is your bedroom quiet? Or do you frequently hear disturbing noises? Even low level noises may prevent you from getting into a deep sleep. This may include your loving bed partner’s soft snores, your dog, your refrigerator or a heat or AC unit turning on and off. These noises may disturb you enough to wake you up, but not so much that you remember them. Using ear plugs, or a white noise machine or small fan, can help drown out noises and promote a better night’s sleep.

Are your bed and pillow comfortable? Is the room too hot or too cold? Making simple adjustments can sometimes provide great results in getting a good night’s sleep. Some people feel much better with a weighted blanket, but these can get quite pricey. Layering a few blankets and comforters may get you the same benefit without the hefty price tag. Crack a window, turn down the heat, humidify the air in winter – all of these may be all it takes to be more comfortable.

Maintain consistent bedtimes and waking times.

This allows our bodies to get into a rhythm and to “expect” to get up and go to bed at the same time every day. It may take several days to get used to, but pick a specific time to get up in the morning, say 7 am, and a specific bed time, say 9 or 10 pm. Stick to these times, even going to bed if you are not tired, and getting up even if you don’t feel completely rested. Avoid the “snooze” button – those last few minutes (or hours) of light sleep won’t actually help you in the long run but will disrupt your natural sleep cycles. When the alarm rings, turn it off and get moving. Within several days, your body will adjust to this schedule and you will find the routine easier to deal with as the days go by.

Watch your caffeine intake

I know many of you won’t want to read this, and you will be tempted to say, ” I need it!” Or, “it doesn’t bother me!” But caffeine can keep us awake long after we take it in. The half-life of caffeine is over 7 hours. This means that if you drink a 10 ounce cup of coffee at 3pm, half of that caffeine is still in your system by 10 pm! This may make it difficult to fall asleep, of course. Less obvious is when we are so tired we can fall asleep easily, but as the night goes on and we get a little rest, there may be enough caffeine in our systems to wake us up! Coffee, tea and soda are obvious sources, but remember that chocolate has caffeine as well. Try to drink that last cup of coffee before lunch, or no later than 2 pm. Alternately, if you really need a pick-me-up in the afternoon, drink a tall glass of cold water and eat a small protein snack, such as a protein bar or a handful of nuts. If you really need the caffeine shot, go for something with less of a dose – the average 8 oz cup of tea has only about 47mg of caffeine, whereas a cup of coffee has about 100mg.

Some last tips…

Daytime cues such as natural daylight early in the day, and dimming the lights about an hour before bedtime can help improve sleep. If you need to nap during the day, limit your nap to 30-90 minutes. Any longer and you can completely disrupt your sleep-wake cycles. In addition, developing your own bedtime ritual, such as a cup of hot decaffeinated tea and a bath, and consciously releasing any worries of the day, can become additional signals to your body that it is time to sleep.  

To wrap it up…

Getting deep, regular and restorative sleep is one of our basic human needs. When we don’t, it can be incredibly frustrating and even make us sick. Luckily, it can be quite simple to change our environment to make sure we get the rest that we so desire. Good luck to you and I wish you pleasant dreams!

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10 Simple Tips to Keep Your New Year Resolutions

The first of the year rings in another opportunity to set a New Year’s resolution. For many, sticking to a resolution can be a breeze in the beginning. But, as the year progresses, it becomes harder and harder to stay committed. It doesn’t have to be that way. Below, I’ve outlined some tips to help you set a realistic resolution and stick to it!


Be Specific. Define your goal. What is the final result you are looking for? You might resolve to lose weight, keep a clean house, or spend more time with your children. Imprecise goals can quickly lead to a failed resolution.

For example, a typical goal for a new year is to “exercise more,” which is pretty vague. Make your goals more tangible. For instance, determine how much time you can devote every week and go from there. If your eventual goal is to walk 30 minutes 5 days per week, try starting out with 5-10 minutes 2 days per week. Increase your activity every week or two until you are at your goal. Sometimes, it has to be only a minute or two, and that is okay.


Another classic goal is to “lose weight.” Write down how much you would like to lose. Keep in mind that 1-2 pounds per week is most doable for anyone, but that if it is only ¼ – ½ pound per week, that is still in the right direction. How much do you want to lose in January, February? Do you have a goal weight for a particular event, such as a virtual class reunion or your wedding? Be clear with your goals and it will help you achieve them.


Give yourself time. Take Baby Steps. Develop a time frame for your goal, with smaller goals to achieve along the way. Books are written page by page, chapter by chapter, not all at once. It works the same way for personal goals. No matter the size of the goal, it still needs to be broken down into individual steps. If your goal is a small one, say, clearing off the kitchen counter, it still can take steps. For instance, maybe you have piles of mail to sort through, clean dishes to put away, and dirty dishes to wash or put in the dishwasher. Maybe it’s a task that has been piling up because you had a difficult day or two and didn’t have time, and now it’s become a more time-consuming project. Break the large task down into smaller and simpler individual tasks that take less time. Maybe today you manage the dirty dishes. Then tomorrow, the clean ones, and the mail the next day. You will feel successful by accomplishing one small goal. This success will give you an emotional boost to tackle the next one. The primary goal is to just get started! And the next one is to keep going!


Be Strong. Forgive Yourself. Not every day is going to be easy, and you will probably have some setbacks. This is completely normal and a natural part of being human! You have the power to keep moving toward your goal, no matter what setbacks may occur. When the going gets tough, take a deep breath, and realize you can choose to start up again every time. A baby doesn’t give up trying to learn to walk when it takes a fall – it gets right back up and tries again. Embrace that spirit and keep on going, one step at a time!

Think positive. Thinking positively is a great tool when it comes to overcoming a bad habit or starting new, healthy ones. Your own words of encouragement can quiet self-doubt and lessen the temptation to give up. There are some very simple tools to help you remain positive. This week, I wrote my goals on a sticky note and put them on my mirror. I will see it every time I look at that mirror and remind myself that I can keep going. When you have a moment, think about and write down some phrases to repeat when you feel discouraged. Sometimes, a simple “You can do it,” is all we need to hear.

Visualize Your Success. Think about the end goal. Envision that clean kitchen counter every time you look at it. Think about that diploma on the wall. What does it look like to you to read more books or spend more time exercising? Visualize what you are trying to achieve. What will it look like to you once you will have accomplished the goal? This will help your resolve to keep moving forward.

Be Patient. Permanently changing your behavior can take months or years! You need to make a conscious effort to stay on track through the long process. It takes more than just a physical action. Mentally prepare yourself by accepting that it will take time to change.

Be Forward Thinking and Embrace a Growth Mindset. If you have had difficulties in the past (and who hasn’t??), try to identify what went wrong in those efforts. Try to identify any behavior patterns you may have that may keep you from success. Learn from that process, make changes, and then move on. Don’t focus on what you have done in the past, only what you want to have in the future.

Choose To Succeed! No one but you can make your resolution happen. Choose not to let mistakes derail you. Take a day off every once in a while. Power (or plod) through the tough times, and see your end result. The key is to just keep going. When you make the decision to succeed, you leave no room to fail. Keeping track of a resolution all year long can be difficult, but only if you let it. Keep positive to enforce your positive change.

It’s OK to Ask for Help. This is a tough one for so many people. They may believe asking for help means they are weak or that they have already failed. The most successful people I know have great support in their personal and professional lives. A good friend, a support group, help from neighbors, mentors, a coach…these people are incredibly valuable and help us when times get tough. They can help hold us accountable when we are tempted to give up on our goals. They can support us when our goals make it challenging to manage day-to-day activities. We don’t have to do it all alone.

Finally, maybe the most important tip to having success in the New Year:

Be Kind to Yourself. Think about the most inspirational coach or teacher you ever had. Most likely they would never have spoken to you the way you speak to yourself when you have a setback or find reaching your goals challenging. Speak to yourself with kindness. Accept your own humanity – it’s normal to get tired or frustrated. Use encouraging words to pick up and keep at it when you’re ready. Sometimes, life gets in the way and it may not be a great time to embrace a difficult goal. It’s okay to set something aside and come back to it when you are ready.

That’s it! 10 simple tips to resolution success. I hope you have found them helpful! Feel free to pass them around to your friends and family – we all can use a little help sometimes. I wish each one of you a blessed and joyful New Year. Be kind to yourself, be patient, think positive, and good luck!

With warm regards,

Dr. Tonya Cremin

Driving on an empty road to the sun

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COVID Overwhelm

How are you all doing today?

A non-COVID related drama at home this week has forced me to reckon with the incredible amount of ongoing and underlying stress of these days of home lockdowns, social distancing, home schooling, curbside deliveries, home schooling, single parenting, worry about our families, worry about our neighbors, worry about our colleagues, worry about our friends, worry about our pets. Our aging parents. Our businesses, our jobs, our kids’ education, our retirement accounts. No meat, no toilet paper, no disinfectants, what’s next? Overbaking, overeating, underexercising, overparenting, underparenting, too much screen time, and did I mention homeschooling? And what about those less fortunate than I? Facemasks, gloves, hand sanitizer, too many people at the park, too many people on the trail, why aren’t they wearing masks. Too many people in that group, why are there so many people together? Those kids aren’t in the same family! Don’t touch the mail. Don’t touch the package. Bleach every door handle, light switch, countertop. Did you sneeze? Did you cough? Do you have a fever? Why do I still have a sore throat?

It. Is. Beyond. Overwhelming.

No experience in my lifetime, and I’m guessing yours, as well, has ever threatened to impact every single aspect of life that I can possibly imagine. And for the last 7 weeks since we hunkered down at home, I thought I have been managing well. No toilet paper? No problem – I’ll buy a bidet! (I didn’t). No yeast for bread? No problem! I’ll make a sourdough starter. No chicken on the shelves? No problem! I prefer eating vegetarian anyway! (The kids are another story.) Suck it up, plow ahead, make it work, get it done, push on through, move it forward, smile anyway. Inhale, hold your breath, we’ll get through. It will be ok. I tell myself: “There are so many other people who are worse off than you.”

We. Need. To. STOP.

This morning, I woke up, and like a reflex, I reached for my phone. Then I stopped. I set it aside. I prayed. I thought about those things for which I am grateful. My family is well. I have food in the fridge. I have a roof overhead. My kids are (in general) getting along remarkably well despite being cooped up with each other with no social outlet or sports activities for nearly 2 months. We are stumbling through this homeschooling thing without too many problems.

We WILL get through this.

Those of us who came of age in the 70s or earlier remember much more quiet time, don’t we? Laying on the grass looking up at the clouds to see what creatures evolved in their shapes? Watching an ant carry something across the sidewalk 20 times its size for what seemed like hours. Sitting in my bedroom window during a thunderstorm waiting for that next crack of lightning to light up the sky and wait for the boom that would shake the house. Sitting on the phone with my best friend for hours, sometimes just listening to her breath because we had already said everything there was to say, but just wanted to be together. We felt like we had all the time in the world. And once again, many of us do.

Take a moment. Listen to your breath.

Say a prayer. Look at family photos. Doodle. Massage your own hands. Give yourself a facial. Read a book. Hug your kid, your roommate, your spouse, your dog, your cat, your pillow. Build a fire. Light a candle. Plant a seed. Call a friend. Watch the birds outside your window. Watch the squirrels. Watch the clouds. Watch the wind in the trees. Take a shower, take a bath. Take a nap.

Breathe.

None of us knows how long it will be before life gets back to normal. None of us knows what “normal” will really look like when it does. We are truly all in this together. And what we all have in common is a moment. Give yourself permission to just be.

Photo credits: : Image created by Alex Wild (2002, Paraguay) and placed in the public domain January 2012

Be Kind to Yourself…

Today was a day that I had high hopes for great accomplishments. Alas! Some days we need to turn to Plan B, don’t we?

Tonya Cremin 2016

Sometimes, no matter what we had planned, little things add up and up and up and at the end of the day, it feels like we have a great big zero, nothing, NADA crossed off that endless list of things to do.

And, as stressful as that may be, sometimes you just have to laugh it off and take care of yourself. Revel in the mini accomplishments, right?

Ok, so in the spirit of full disclosure, I will reveal my accomplishments today:

  • Woke up.
  • Got dressed – not presentable to the outside world, necessarily, but out of pajamas, for sure.
  • Toasted some bread for kid #2.
  • Defrosted frozen blueberries for kid #1 (she never ate them).
  • Spoke to a colleague about a patient.
  • Checked on a patient at home.
  • Ordered groceries online.
  • Hung out at the table during unexpected distance learning day. All day.
  • Checked on kid #1 after school (still doing work with a friend online).
  • Back and forth with spouse about some frustrations in current times.
  • Attempted to wrangle brainwaves in order to accomplish something useful before scheduled call with work consultant.
  • Guided kid #2 with after school activities needed before screen time.
  • Cancelled scheduled call with work consultant. Sigh.
  • Helped kid #2 with Nintendo.
  • Gave up a little.
  • Sat here and wrote this blog.

So….clearly not an astounding day. Did you actually read that list? Snooze fest, right? Yep, I know. But….today I’m going to celebrate the little things…

  • I woke up. Amen!
  • I have a great spouse!
  • I have 2 great kids!
  • I have work!
  • My kids are making dinner and dessert! Bonus!
  • And tomorrow is another day!