The Wealth of Wellbeing

Self-investment in self-care

It’s always a good time to invest in you time.

Tony Ziolko, licensed therapist, clinical supervisor, cofounder and co-owner of Stories Counseling, has spent his career helping people help themselves. He says investing in self-care is crucial to our wellbeing.

“It all comes down to this idea of nourishment,” Ziolko says. “We invest in self-care to keep ourselves from becoming emotionally malnourished. If we neglect our emotional nourishment, we end up trying to feed our tribe with crumbs. A lot of people reply on us and we have to be able to give to the world. If you want to be able to show up for the people in your life and be present, you have to have something to give.”

Ziolko suggests finding your “why” and being consistent with self-care. “When you wake up in the morning, you need to know your ‘why’ – you have to know why you are doing it. It’s more about the regularity of bite-sized pieces of nourishment.”

He also suggests finding ways to stimulate the four “happy hormones”: dopamine, serotonin, endorphin and oxytocin. Ziolko says you can get dopamine in significant ways, like eating a strawberry, going to a concert or seeing a comedian live. When you have a good night’s sleep or get exposure to sunshine, your brain produces serotonin. Elevating your heart rate, as one does when running, gives you endorphins. And oxytocin, the love hormone, is triggered when you’re near someone you love, like significant others, friends, family, and even pets.

Currently, one of the ways that Ziolko nourishes his emotional wellbeing is through cold plunge.

“I can do a cold plunge in the morning and know I’ve done the hardest thing I’ll do all day,” he says. “Something in your mind shifts. When you put yourself in those extreme conditions and know you’ve done the hardest thing you have to do that day, it reduces a lot of stress.”

And at Stories Counseling, Ziolko and his team offer three other ways to ensure clients take care of themselves—therapy, massage and yoga.

The benefits of investing in yourself through therapy helps to maintain regulation, shares Ziolko. His practice offers many different therapeutic modalities, such as EMDR, sensorimotor, Internal Family Systems (IFS) and more. “In a world where we have so much input in our lives, we don’t often take the time to output, and therapy is another way to help you output,” Ziolko says. “The best way to think about it is a cup. As that cup fills up, if we don’t dump some of the water out regularly, the cup will start to overflow. We are no different. Therapy is a great way to help empty that cup so we can handle more.”

That relaxation felt during and after a massage session? “That is from the literal sense of isolating the muscle group and releasing lactic acid,” says Ziolko. Stories Counseling offers a variety of massage options—including cupping, hot stone, scalp and more—and the practitioner is more clinical in the way they approach massage; they can access specific isolated muscle groups to release toxins and loosen muscles so it’s not so tense.

Stories Counseling also offers yoga, which Ziolko says is an option for those looking to incorporate movement in the self-care process. His practice offers yoga Nidra and somatic yoga, in both group and private settings, which are more integrative with mental health than classic or hot yoga, according to Ziolko. “It’s a great workout, and in fact takes a lot of mental discipline to main poses—it’s another great way to output.”

About Tony Ziolko: Ziolko is the co-founder and co-owner of Stories Counseling, PLLC. He is a licensed therapist and clinical supervisor, with certifications and specializations in trauma and couples counseling.

StoriesCounseling.com | 480.877.1486 | On Instagram @storiescounseling

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