Mental Health

Self-Care Simplified

Self-care is more than a trend or catch-phrase. It's an important part of our emotional and physical wellbeing. The conversation around the importance of mental health being equally as important as physical health is growing Yet, we continue to make time for and prioritize just our physical needs: doctor’s appointments, diet, medication regiment, etc. There is a give and take between the two, when you physically feel healthier, you tend to emotionally feel healthier and vice versa. So, let’s make time for the emotional self-care as well.

 

  • What are things that make you smile? Relax? Belly laugh? Feel accomplished?

  • Write them down!

  • Categorize: What is a self-care activity you can do in 5 minutes? 15 minutes? On occasion an hour?

Find that 5 minutes (or 15, or 30, etc.) in your day!

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Dismissing versus Supporting

In the process of supporting our loved ones, it is easy to move from being supportive to being dismissive without realizing it. Maybe you have run out of things to say that may be supportive and do not know how else to help. 

Being dismissive minimizes the value of what your loved one has said and felt. But, it does not always come from a place of not caring. It can look as simple as what we think is supportive; “It will all be fine...You worry too much; take a break...That person is not worth your time...You didn’t think that would be helpful before...” These things can tell your loved one that their fears, concerns, and hurt are unnecessary but simply confuse the fact that those feelings already exist. 

Support can be offered in many ways. Most often, you will find that your loved ones simply need to feel heard. You may not have to say anything! Think about the times when you have truly felt heard. How can you pass that feeling along?

Make eye contact

Paraphrase what they've said

Ask for clarification if you’ve misunderstood

Simply gestures, like a nod, let them know you’re still listening

Empathy and validation let others know that their feelings and thoughts are acceptable and you can appreciate why they feel that way, even if you may feel differently about the same situation.

Other times, your presence may be more than enough. We have this sense of urgency to fill the voice when there is uncomfortable silence. But when a loved one is hurting, they may just need that silence to process their thoughts and feelings, with your supportive presence. 

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Thank You

Often times, we are rather hard on ourselves, our bodies, and our minds. We are constantly expecting and demanding more and becoming frustrated easily. 

 

But what if, we took a few moments each day to appreciate all that those bodies and minds have done for us? Notice that pesky anxiety or unwanted memory of a traumatic event? Although the symptoms that follow may prove challenging, your mind is working to protect you.

 

Your memory stores information for you, some of which you may not even recall. When a familiar sensation, smell, sound, etc. presents itself, it triggers a thought process, which is quickly followed by an emotional process. This emotional process can then lead into moments of anxiety, stress, doubt, etc. 

 

Although you may in fact be safe, that smell may connect you to a memory in which that smell was once unsafe. In order to protect you, your memory is reminding you that smell has previously meant danger.

 

Instead of harboring frustration towards your mind and body for the symptoms that follow, allow a moment to appreciate its intent. You may just notice your symptoms weaken and anticipatory frustration subside.

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Just Being

I think many of us struggle with the belief that we are not good enough. Our society and our brains themselves often guide us towards making comparisons between ourselves and others or even between our actual selves and some idealized version of ourselves. More times than not, these comparisons result in one of two things. We either find ourselves to be less than or better than in some way, and neither of these results tend to be productive for us. Our sense of value and worth may get tied up in external validation and in the belief that we have to do certain things or have certain things in order to be enough.

 

I heard someone say recently, “We are human beings, not human doings.” I think it’s important to remember this idea and to know that we are each so much more than a list of things we do or a list of accomplishments. We are more than a degree, more than a job, more than a hobby, and more than any single one of the roles we take on in our lives.

 

I believe in positive affirmations and being intentional in what we surround ourselves with and what we say to ourselves. Because of this, I have my own bathroom mirror covered in phrases and quotes that are meaningful to me. One of my favorites says, “I’ve decided that I’m good enough.” I remind myself of this often, and hope for you to do the same, knowing that no matter what we are doing, we are enough and have worth and value just because we are. Being alone is enough.

 

Give yourself some time this week to just be. Take a few deep breaths in and out, and know that you are enough!

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Recognizing and Negotiating Conflict

Problems and conflict are part of life - they are natural and inevitable. Conflict does not necessarily have to be a bad thing. When conflict occurs, the relationship may be weakened or strengthened.Not being able to recognize and address conflict can leave you feeling angry, upset, misunderstood or helpless. However, if the conflict is handled well, it can be productive - allowing both people to feel respected and validated. 

 

Healthy ways to recognize and negotiate conflict

  • Conflict must be viewed as a problem that can be solved mutually - finding a solution that is acceptable to both. 

  • Each person must participate actively in the resolution and make an effort and commitment to find answers which are as fair as possible.

  • Make conflict resolution the priority rather than winning or being right. 

  • Ues effective communication techniques- Use "I" statements, use empathy, and practice active listening

  • Focus on the situation rather than the person- don't attack

  • Ask questions using exploration rather than domination- Try asking open-ended question that provokes communication 

  • Be respectful

  • Brainstorm possible solutions together

 

Conflict is hard, but these are healthy ways to communicate and negotiate conflict. Remember conflict happens and it can be productive if handled with care.

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Loving Yourself

In the relationship conversation, the Five Love Languages is a hot topic, rightfully so. It is important to understand how one speaks/understands love in order to actually feel and receive that love. Why then, do we not consider this in terms of loving ourselves?

 

When the focus is on a duo, the tendency is to ask how each person is meeting the other’s needs. Often times when the responsibility is given to another person, our attention turns elsewhere. We’ve forgotten how to love ourselves. Similar to the concept of self-care, self-love should be another priority of yours, whether part of a duo or not. 

 

So, what is your love language, and how have you shown yourself love today? If you have not, consider reading The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. And, explore the ways in which you can meet your own needs first. It is widely quoted, “You cannot pour from an empty cup,” so let’s fill yours up first.

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A Reminder About Love

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the topic of love is in the air. Heart shaped boxes filled with chocolate and cards with “Love” scrolled across the front are everywhere. We’re reminded to tell that special someone in our life just how we feel about them and to spread Valentine’s to all our loved ones.

 

I love the idea of taking time to be intentional with letting those around know exactly how we feel and to take time to verbalize our gratitudes and appreciations of them. However; at times, I think we forget that self-love is just as important as the love we show to those around us. Sometimes, it’s easier to focus on saying and doing for others. When is the last time you told yourself that you loved you? Or that you are grateful for and appreciate something in yourself? It can be difficult to both give and receive love from others when we aren’t loving our own self well. 

 

This Valentine’s Day season, make sure you set aside some time to think about and take action towards loving yourself well. Start with just one committed action. What is one thing you could do today to love yourself? It may be a bubble bath, allowing yourself some time to read, or going to bed early for the first time in days. Whatever it is, include in that time some loving self-talk. Let yourself know some things you’re grateful for, and remind yourself that you deserve to be loved!

 

What’s your act of self-love going to be? What are you grateful of in yourself right this moment?

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Copy of Experiencing Depression Pt. 2

Depression can either be healthy or unhealthy, especially considering the responses you may choose to have to the depression.  If you are a person who has a history or tendency to experience depression, you can take some of the actions below to help you avert or cope with feelings of depression, despondency and despair.

  • Take a close look at your diet!

Some foods are natural depressants. If your diet is heavy on sugars or caffeine, you are making yourself a target fortremendous mood swings which can include  depressive moods and fatigue. A balanced diet cankeep you in a better physical, emotional and mental condition.

 

  • Make exercise a part of your routine.

Exercise regularly. The best routine is walking a minimum of 15-30 minutes at least three to four times a week.

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Experiencing Depression Pt. 1

The word depression is used to describe a variety of moodsfrom “feeling a little down” or sad to being overwhelmed, incapacitated and possibly suicidal.  These mood changes or swings can be triggered by life situations or biochemical causes.  Depression causesfeelings of hopelessness, despair, sadness and apathy.  

 

Depression affects every aspect of the person’s being. Here are just some of the effects of depression:

  • Aloss of perspective.Depression distorts life and how we see ourselves. Depression perpetuates a negative pattern of thinking.

  • Changes the person’s physical activities and social involvement.A depressed person has little strength or desire to be involved in activities that once were of interest. Constant fatigue plagues the victim of depression.

  • Aloss of self-esteem.The depressed person develops and nurtures a negative self-image.

  • Withdrawalfrom othersat a time when support and encouragement are important.

  • An overwhelming needto escapeproblems, social situations and life as normal.

  • Over-sensitivityto what others say and do.

  • Difficulties in thinking, concentrationand decision making.Depressed people can’t focus and complain of muddled thinking and forgetfulness. They feel as if gloom and doom hang over them all the time.

  • Difficultiesin managing emotions and everyday situations.Depressed people are almost always frustrated and angry.

  • Feelings of guilt or regret….either real or imagined.

  • Creates a strongsense of dependencyupon others.

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Resilience In Mental Health

When you have resilience, you harness inner strength that helps you bounce back from difficult stressors. Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.  

 

Resilience does not make problems go away — but gives us the ability to see past them, find enjoyment in life and better handle stress. 

In the mental health world resilience can help improve ability to cope and handel difficult situations. Below are a few ways we can build resilience. 

 

Ways to build resilience 

Get Connected: Building strong, positive relationships can provide support and acceptance in both good times and bad. 

Maintain Hopeful Outlook: We can't change the past, but we can keep hopeful towards our future. 

Accept Change: Accepting situations that can't be changed can help us focus on situations that we do have control over.

Take Care Of Yourself- Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. 

Make days count:Let's do something that gives us a sense of accomplishment and purpose every day. 

 

Becoming more resilient takes time and practice, and you are worth it!

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