Book Review: Year of Yes

In 2013, Shonda Rimes, creator of series such as Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, realized that she was always saying no. A working mother and a highly creative professional, she told herself she was happy…ish.

She then decided that she would spend an entire year saying yes, especially to the things that scared her. In her words, she was “going to say yes to anything and everything that scares me. For a whole year. Or until you have to bury me”.

What ensues is a year of saying yes to scary things –  interviews she would normally have refused, appearances that terrified her, and also saying yes to the things which she didn’t realize she was saying no to – like spending quality time with her children.

Witty and vulnerable, Rimes is able to capture what many of us face daily – saying no to the things that matter while saying yes to the things that don’t. All while channeling Beyoncé.

Check out her powerful Ted Talk as well as her book. A funny, meaningful novel which is easy enough for a summer read.


Book Review: The Happiness Project

At the beginning of the New Year, I was hearing a lot about The Happiness Project. I went to New York and people were buzzing about it. I saw it in bookstore windows, heard about it on the news and TV talk shows. But what was it? I decided to find out.

A happiness project is “an approach to changing your life… by identifying what brings you joy, satisfaction, and engagement, and also what brings you guilt, anger, boredom, and remorse… then you make the resolutions, then you identify the concrete actions that will boost your happiness”. Embarking on such a project doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily unhappy, but it’s an approach to getting more out of life, along with more happiness and satisfaction.

Gretchen Rubin starts her book, The Happiness Project, by saying “I wasn’t depressed and I wasn’t having a midlife crisis”… but I was wondering of life “is this it?”.

She then decided to dedicate the next year trying to be happier, all of which she would write about on her blog. She started by doing research on happiness, trying to find out not only what could bring her more joy, but what others had discovered about it. She read books from philosophers, psychologists, and writers all to trying to find a universal ‘formula’ for happiness.

She was confronted with skeptics, including friends, who questioned how women all over the world could relate to an upper-east side, privileged, white woman.

Nonetheless, she made some happiness goals, spreading them throughout the year, breaking them down into smaller parts. Some of these goals included having more energy, appreciating her husband more, spending more quality time with her children, being calmer and less angry, finding hobbies that she loved (and doing them!), reevaluating what friendship meant while creating lasting relationships, contemplating the meaning of life, dabbling in mindfulness, and questioning her attitudes and behaviors. all while smiling more.

I can’t say that I loved the book. As she readily admitted, her perspective was subjective and coming from a certain American social strata. Putting that aside, I think she did make many good points which got me thinking… What is happiness? What does happiness look like to other people? What does happiness look like to me? And what steps should we be making to fulfill our happiness goals?

I think many of us make excuses for why we can’t be happier. We don’t have the time, the money, we have too many other responsibilities, and many people, especially women, think it’s selfish to focus on ourselves as opposed to others. As if we don’t deserve to take time to be happier and take care of ourselves. But if we’re not really enjoying life, what are we doing? And what could we be doing better?

So, at the end of The Happiness Project year, what happened?

Although she couldn’t objectively measure her happiness, she reported feeling happier and smiling more. Thanks to her blog, others reported feeling happier as well after doing their own happiness projects.

And you? What makes you happy? Are you making time for the things you love? How would you know if you were happier? What would that look like? I hope you can explore those possibilities.

For more on starting a happiness project, visit the happiness project website.


The Importance of Self Care

Earlier this week, I blogged about recognizing stress. As mentioned, recognizing when we’re stressed is the first step in stress management, but what comes next?

The answer I give my clients is self-care. Self-care is deliberately taking action to care for your physical and mental health. Whatever you call it – “me time”, “taking a step back” or “taking a time-out”, it’s all self-care and it’s important. It will not only help you manage stress during stressful times, but it can also help prevent the harmful effects of stress. Often, we forget or ignore this need to take care of ourselves, especially with busy personal and professional lives.

So, ask yourself- How am I taking care of myself? How do I manage stress? What activities do I enjoy doing, and am I making time for them?

For inspiration, please explore the following links.

It may be useful to evaluate your self-care needs around Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Get some ideas for self care.

Watch some Ted talks which focus on the importance of self-care.

And, just for fun.


Recognizing Stress

What do you think of when I say stress?

Stress is a normal part of life, but sometimes life pressures get so overwhelming that we can no longer cope effectively. If you’re often saying “I’m so stressed” or “I don’t know how to manage my stress anymore”, read on.

I often work with stressed clients. Whether they aren’t recognizing their sources of stress or don’t know how to deal with them, stress is a challenging part of their lives. However, there are solutions.

The first step in stress management is to recognize it. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

How do you know when you’re stressed?

Very often there are physical signs of stress, which manifests differently for all of us. Some common signs can be found here.

Other signs may include being moody, avoiding going out with friends, or feeling anxious or irritated much of the time. It’s important to recognize these problems early so that we can more quickly respond to and manage them.

Where is the stress coming from?

Can you identify the sources of your current stress? Is it work-related? Coming from an unsatisfying relationship? Problems prioritizing or managing time? Are you trying to cope with a long-term stress, but old strategies are no longer working?

How do you manage stress?

Do you talk with a friend or family member? Do you play sports or go to the gym? Are you switching off when you’re not at work? Do you take regular vacations?

Knowing the ways you manage stress and then making them a priority can help to prevent you from getting too stressed in the first place, as well as helping during stressful times.

Sometimes, just by recognizing that we’re stressed and remembering how we’ve coped in the past can help us to manage it better.

For more information on stress and stress management, follow my Facebook page here.


Success of Eat, Play, Love Workshop

A few weeks ago I, along with Psychologist Maria Papachristoforou, held a workshop aimed at women wanting to find more balance in life.

We focused on well-being as it related to our emotional, physical, and spiritual lives, as well as touched on how to balance work and social life within a mindful framework. We held discussions on the difficulties we can face while trying to take care of ourselves, as well as gave practical solutions for overcoming these challenges. Women were able to practice these within the workshop and plan on how to incorporate them into their everyday lives.

We ended with a lovely mindful walk in the Parc des Bastions.

Overall, the event was a great success and we received positive feedback from our participants. We hope to run similar workshops in the future.

If you are interested in future workshops, please contact me directly at wellnessgeneva@gmail.com .



Top 5 Recommended Books for Clients

Do you like to read?

I often recommend books to my clients. Here is a list of my top 5 recommended books:


Workshop Series for Women Starting In April

I’m so excited to announce that I’ll be starting the first in a series of wellness workshops for women. Eat Play Love is designed to help women find balance in everyday life. If you’d like to find more pleasure in life, learn how to manage stress, or refresh your mental energies – this workshop is for you.

Eat :

Nourish yourself by getting in touch with inner motivations. Learn how to make conscious decisions which balance each area of your life.

Play :

Practice living in a mindful way. Through practical exercises, you will get in touch with the many playful parts of yourself which you may have forgotten.

Love :

Appreciate yourself and others while communicating more efficiently. Learn to be assertive while leaving your anger at the door.

Presented in English by Melissa Pollick (MA Counseling) and Maria Papachristoforou (MSc Clinical Psychology and Health Psychology).

Register :

The price of this workshop is 100 chf per person, which includes the 3 hour workshop and a 45 minute follow-up consultation with Melissa Pollick, a trained psychological counselor, to be held at a later date. The workshop will take place at the Impact Hub in Geneva. Register through Eventbrite.


Eating Disorder Awareness Week: Are You Affected?

Eating disorders are complex disorders which often affect physical and mental health, work, and relationships. They involve serious disturbances in eating behavior including extreme and unhealthy reduction of food intake or severe overeating and extreme concern about body shape or weight. The three most common eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder.

With anorexia having the highest mortality rate among all psychological disorders, we need to better understand these disorders themselves as well as the people they affect.

Some Statistics

  • 50% of teenage girls and 30% of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, vomiting, and taking laxatives to control their weight
  • 25% of college-aged women engage in binging and purging methods
  • 4 out of 10 individuals have either personally experienced an eating disorder or know someone who has
  • 35% of normal dieters progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders

Signs and Symptoms

  • In general, behaviors and attitudes indicating that weight loss, dieting and control of food are becoming primary concerns
  • Evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time or finding wrappers and containers indicating the consumption of large amounts of food
  • Evidence of purging behaviors, including frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, signs and/or smells of vomiting or presence of wrappers or packages of laxatives or diuretics
  • Excessive, rigid exercise regimens
  • Withdrawal from usual friends and activities


  • Genetics – the risk of developing an eating disorder is 50-80% determined by genetics
  • Social factors – unrealistic pressures to obtain the “perfect” body, the media with its images of perfection and narrow definitions of beauty
  • Psychological factors – substantial co-morbidity with other mental health disorders including depression, anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), low self-esteem, and feelings of lack of control
  • Interpersonal factors – history of abuse, being teased for size or weight, traumatic life events and difficulty expressing feelings and emotions

How to help someone who is suffering

  • Be aware – know the signs and symptoms of eating disorders
  • Be mindful of your own attitudes and comments regarding food, weight, shape and fitness. Consider how they impact your own well-being and how you might be conveying them to others
  • Respect the diversity of body sizes and shapes. Recognize that weight, like height, is inherited and that health is measured by many factors that are attainable at every size
  • Be a critical consumer of media and teach others to do the same
  • Celebrate positive messages in the media and express concern about advertisements that promote unrealistic standards or send negative body image messages
  • Know the places in your community that provide help and support and encourage them to seek professional help. Please contact me for local resources or for more information on helping your loved one.

Struggling from an eating disorder?

Take a quick, 3-minute assessment from the National Eating Disorders Association to see if you’re at-risk.

If you’re struggling from an eating disorder, talk to someone – a trusted friend, colleague, or family member – and let them support you in getting professional help.

I regularly work with those affected by eating disorders. If you’d like more information about eating disorders or if you’re ready for counseling, please contact me.

wellnessgeneva@gmail.com / +41 77 495 6152


References and further reading:

Brunch, Hilde (2001). The Golden Cage. Boston: Harvard University Press.

Eating disorder help (2016). Eating disorder statistics. Retrieved from http://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/information/statistics-studies

Enns, Kimberly (2016). Eating disorders: it’s not our bodies that need changing. Retrieved from http://blog.ctrinstitute.com/eating-disorders-its-not-our-bodies-that-need-changing

National Eating Disorders Association (2016). Reaching out when concerned: how to help someone you care about. Retrieved from http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness (2013). What are eating disorders. Retrieved from http://www.allianceforeatingdisorders.com/portal/what-are-eating-disorders#.Vs3BfuaS_hV


Follow Me On Facebook

To get updates from Wellness Counseling Geneva, including blog posts, articles, and events, please follow our Facebook page.


What’s Your Love Language?

For Valentine’s Day, why don’t you give a gift to yourself and your partner?

Discover you and your partner’s love language today – take the assessment.

Dr. Gary Chapman has developed a theory with the premise that each of us has our own way of giving and receiving love. These include Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.

You can also subscribe to the newsletter and get weekly ideas of how to show love in your couple.

If you’d like additional resources or support for your couple, please contact me for a free consultation or an appointment.



Presentation at Lift Conference

The Lift Conference in Geneva focuses on innovation and digital technologies, while featuring talks, interactive workshops, exhibitions of interactive media projects and prototypes. This year, I was able to be a part of it!

As part of the Storytelling Science VR Hackathon sponsored by CERN and the Geneva International Film Festival Tous Ecrans, my team and I developed a virtual reality, 3D film which allowed people to experience mental illness. We named the project the “Difficult People Project”, trying to build awareness for mental illness and the people who experience them. The film, which was completed last year, focused on putting oneself into the skin of someone with adult ADHD.

On Friday, February 12, my team and I were able to present our project to a group of innovators in hopes not only of raising awareness about mental health, but also our ideas concerning the expansion of the project to include other mental disorders.

This film was an amazing experience for me. It was not only the first time that I was able to work on a film, but also a new way to raise awareness concerning the importance of mental health. I found it very stimulating to work with such a diverse group of people- from artists to physicists, engineers, and filmmakers – and then adding my own background and expertise. It was a wild ride.

Click here for more information on the Difficult People Project.


New Wellness Counseling Geneva Blog

As part of the new and improved wellnessgeneva.com, I will be starting a new blog which will focus on various wellness topics including work-life balance, achieving better sleep, wellness assessments, book reviews and more!

If you’d like a topic of your choice to be featured on the Wellness Counseling Geneva blog, please write to me at wellnessgeneva@gmail.com.