Doing Life Together
Doing Life Together
Growing up, it seemed like your parents were always telling you to go outside and play. But, now that you’re older, you have more important things to worry about. You have a 40-hour workweek and a family to take care of. What you might not know is that nature can be healing. And, you don’t have to do anything more than to go outside to experience these effects.
The Benefits of Going Out Into Nature
There are plenty of benefits that come with going out into nature and truly experiencing the planet’s natural beauty. According to research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, here’s a look at some of the possible benefits of exposing yourself to the sights, sounds, and smells of nature, according to research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
What’s even better is that some of these effects are produced immediately. You may feel apprehensive or stressed out before visiting a local park and feel a sense of relief as soon as you hear the chirping of the birds.
How To Get Into Nature
Though America is very much a developed country, there are plenty of locations throughout the nation that give you the chance to explore nature. America is currently home to 62 National Parks, nearly 7,000 state parks, and countless local parks that you can visit. Let’s go over what you can do to get into nature to reap the benefits.
Figure Out What Calms You
Some things in nature will be much more calming to you than others. The first thing you want to do is figure out what calms you personally.
Whatever you love about nature that calms you the most, find somewhere that allows you to experience those specific things.
Turn Off Your Devices
According to the American Psychological Association, about 86% of Americans will check their phone constantly. So, to truly get the most out of your journey into nature, you’ll want to turn off your phone or tuck it away into your backpack. It allows you to truly focus on the world around you and escape the fear, worry, and pain that’s currently overwhelming you.
You are just going to the park, and hearing the birds chirping might be enough for you to calm you down and bring you back to the present moment. But, to truly experience nature as it was meant to be shared, you need to give yourself time to enjoy it.
That means make your trips into nature on days where you don’t have other obligations. Set aside a few hours for a 5-mile hike or an entire day to explore a state park. That way, you don’t have to rush around to see everything or look back in regret thinking you missed something.
Nature is something that very few people genuinely appreciate fully. But it’s known to produce healing effects and can improve your mental state indefinitely. When you get out into the forest, on top of a mountain, or along the shoreline, take the time to appreciate the sights, sounds, and smells. You’ll never feel as calm or free as you will when you’re out in the real world.
Do you want to improve your mental state?
Nature is something that very few people genuinely appreciate fully. But it’s known to produce healing effects and can improve your mental state indefinitely. It’s a great way for you to spend time with yourself, as well as find peace in the world around you.
If you are interested in improving your mental health, try spending some time outside today and see how much better life becomes when we take care of ourselves. You deserve it!
Go outside today and enjoy nature for all its worth!
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According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, over 18% of the American population struggle with some form of anxiety at any given time. Coping with stress can be complicated, especially since there’s no single treatment that works for everyone. So, let’s talk about five completely natural ways that you can calm your anxiety today.
1. Meditation & Deep Breathing
Anxiety attacks and persistent anxiety typically come with the same few symptoms. You may notice that your heart rate is twice as fast as expected, that your blood pressure has skyrocketed, and that thoughts are racing through your mind at lightning speed.
Meditation and deep breathing techniques can help you to relieve both the mental and physical symptoms of anxiety. Concentrating on your breathing will bring you back to the present moment and slow your thoughts. And, according to Harvard Health, meditation can also reduce your blood pressure, lower your heart rate, and improve your heart health.
So, start with a brief 2-minute deep breathing meditation session and begin lengthening your sessions as you become accustomed to meditation.
The essential oils industry in America is booming these days, but these oils might be able to do a little more than make your home smell pleasant. Simply smelling these essential oils through aromatherapy can potentially reduce your symptoms of stress and anxiety.
And, research has revealed that essential oils like lemon, lavender, and rose are most effective for anxious people. All you have to do is squeeze a few drops of your favorite into an essential oil diffuser or in the bathtub and give yourself some time to relax and enjoy the scents!
Note: Carrier oils must mix with some essential oils must be combined if you’re planning to use them on your skin. Be sure to read the label before using your essential oil.
3. Intense Exercise
The last thing you want to do when you’re anxious is strap on your running shoes and go for a run, but it might just be the best thing for relieving your anxiety during the moment. That’s because exercise can help you naturally improve your mood, get rid of pent-up energy, and help you sleep much better at night (great if you have insomnia).
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that just about any exercise style can be successful when it comes to calming anxiety. Go for long walks along the canal, lift weights in your living room, follow along with a yoga video, or even play with your dog.
Exercise is excellent for treating and preventing anxiety, so do your best to get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week.
4. Laugh & Smile
When your mind is racing, and negative thoughts have taken over, it’s hard to stay positive and express emotions like happiness or joy. But according to the Mayo Clinic, laughter can improve your mood and relieve the physical tension in your body as well.
So, when you’re feeling anxious, do something that makes you smile. That can be anything from watching your favorite TV show clip on YouTube to spending time playing with your young nieces and nephews in the yard.
5. Limit Caffeine Intake
Have you ever had a few too many cups of coffee (or energy drinks) and gotten the jitters? Maybe it felt like your heart was pounding in your chest and like your mind wouldn’t slow down. That’s because high levels of caffeine can mimic the effects of anxiety. That means caffeine and anxiety are a terrible combination for your mental state.
If you’re predisposed to high levels of anxiety, it’s best to avoid caffeine altogether. However, caffeine may be okay in moderation, such as a few cups of coffee in the morning each day. Just be sure you’re not drinking it too close to bedtime to avoid sleep difficulties.
Since there’s no “one size fits all” for treating anxiety, you may have to experiment with different coping strategies to see what works best for you. Ensure that the ways you try to calm your anxiety are healthy and don’t involve drugs and alcohol. Understand that pressure is complex, and it could take weeks or months to see significant results.
Have you been feeling stressed lately, and you don't know what to do about it?
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At some point in our lives, we all deal with painful and negative emotions. Whether those emotions are fear, anxiety, resentment, or other fear-based emotions, if we do not learn to manage those emotions properly, they can get the best of us and destroy us.
Identify the Emotion
You cannot correctly address something you cannot first identify. It requires a level of self-awareness. It allows you to sit with your feelings, genuinely get to the root of what is going on. The act of identifying what is triggering the negative feelings eases the burden of trying to ignore or mask the sense while allowing room for what was determined to be addressed in the right way. The ultimate benefits of this can include reduced stress and anxiety (Partnership Staff, 2017).
Once you know what you’re feeling, you can begin to identify what causes you to feel that way. Determining actionable strides, you can take the situation or trigger causing that particular emotion to remove or reduce the impacts of those triggers.
Or you can take steps to help you learn how to manage those triggers so they no longer produce the intense negative pain or fear-based emotion moving forward (Brown, 2019).
Redirecting the negative emotions you feel into positive activities can be a healthy way to release those negative emotions. Redirection is about channeling negative emotions and energy into an action that allows for emotional release without causing harm. Activities can include physical activity, breathing, journaling, or meditation, among others. Each of these outlets provides an opportunity to help you feel less overwhelmed, thus reducing stress, tension, and anxiety (Scott, 2020).
Getting help from outside sources can be one of the best ways to get help with painful and fear-based emotions. Whether that support is in the form of friends and family or a licensed professional, sometimes having an additional person to talk things through with can help bring relief mentally and emotionally.
Others can offer advice, tools, resources, and even just a listening ear to help you process what you’re feeling and develop healthy coping strategies to manage those negative emotions you feel (Scott, 2020).
Being thankful is a strategy that can act as a grounding force when faced with painful and fear-based emotions. Gratitude first draws us into the present moment by taking our focus off of the negative stimuli and causing us to find those good things that exist presently in our lives right now.
Then it replaces the negativity with positivity by causing us to deviate from the negative emotions towards the happiness and joy connected with gratitude in creating. Taking a few moments to either write down all that you are grateful for or even simply think about them helps counter these negative emotions.
We do not have to live indefinitely with painful and fear-based emotions. We can take action to help ourselves overcome negative feelings and thrive in our lives. Whether you adopt one of these strategies or several, these are great ways first to understand how you feel; address the cause of what you’re feeling. Develop coping strategies for situations where you find yourself encountering these negative emotions at any point in the future.
Brown, L. (2019, October 22). How to deal with negative emotions: 10 things you need to remember. Hack Spirit. https://hackspirit.com/negative-emotions/
Partnership Staff. (2017, May 28). Coping with fear, anger, and other negative emotions. Partnership to End Addiction | Where Families Find Answers. https://drugfree.org/article/coping-fear-anger/#
Scott, E. (2020). How to deal with negative emotions and stress. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-should-i-deal-with-negative-emotions-3144603
Do you ever feel like your life is not where you want it to be?
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The most common conversations that we have around depression and anxiety revolve around scientific literature. We look at how anxiety and depression can be relieved or solved through pharmacological responses or cognitive-behavioral solutions.
This is all helpful, and it's all true, but sometimes that isn't enough. Some people spend a lifetime on pharmacological products and still deal with symptoms of anxiety and depression. While some people go the route of ketamine infusions to get relief from treatment-resistant depression and anxiety, that is not the only option.
There is something to be said for hope and faith. How on earth can hope and faith have any effect whatsoever on depression and anxiety? Let's talk about it.
A big part of any spiritual framework is a belief in something greater than yourself. That can help you maintain hope even on the longest of roads. When you have faith in something, you believe that it's more than wishful thinking that positive change can and will come by holding onto it.
It's important to expect that things will get better. If that isn't present, what point is there to follow through? Life can be difficult, it can be challenging, and hope is key to getting through that relatively unscathed.
When you are filled with hope, you are more open-minded to new and different ways of handling anxiety and depression. Sometimes, the people who need the most help are the people who have found traditional treatment partially or entirely ineffective. So, what comes next? If you have tried CBT, you have attempted medication, then what's left? The open-mindedness of hope ensures that you never give up. Hope fills you with the power to do everything possible to move away from depression and anxiety.
For some, that means more prayer. Prayer, like meditation, offers stress relief and helps us feel more in control of our lives. Prayer doesn't have to be the traditional idea of prayer. It could also include journaling, meditation, sitting in peace, spending time in nature, or otherwise. While prayer isn't always practical, it can help.
Spiritual practices, whether meditation or prayer, communing with nature, or with fellow believers in service, may provide you with a boost in attitude and behavior. These positive boosts help you fight anxiety and depression. Prayer or meditation can help you recognize your emotional reactions more clearly, thus preventing the typical knee-jerk reaction. Sometimes the best thing you can do is accept the present and just do nothing. It’s a lesson that you can learn through the positive evolution of hope, faith, and practice of your spirituality.
When you look at your life through the lens of being on a spiritual journey, then you no longer view problems as obstacles. Instead, you recognize problems as opportunities to learn and grow. You get the sense that, at any given moment, you are where you are supposed to be.
I want to be clear; hope and faith won't necessarily leave you jumping with joy as though no harm can befall you. It's more about understanding that with difficulty comes growth and every setback is an opportunity.
Often, depression and anxiety stem from stress which comes from our inability to control everything. If you tend to react with disappointment, anger, sadness, or any other negative emotions, I want you to take it as an opportunity.
Take a step back and ask yourself what hope and faith can teach you at this moment and what this problem or obstacle may uncover opportunity.
You deserve to be happy.
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Therapy can come in many forms. Talk therapy is a practice that you can do differently where one of the most popular therapies available. Psychodynamic therapy, Cognitive-Behavioral therapy, and humanistic therapy are just a few popular therapy options.
6 Popular Types of Talk Therapy Currently Used Today
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a widely practiced form of talk therapy that involves structured sessions. It is usually a short-term mental health treatment that addresses patterns of existing behavior. By understanding unhelpful thought patterns, the therapist can help guide the patient into making healthier choices.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy can identify beliefs the patient did not know they had. These beliefs can be about themselves, others, or the world around them, just by addressing current symptoms and not spending as much time on the past, the design of this therapy to work on simple changes.
Psychodynamic therapy stemmed from what was once called psychoanalysis. Like psychoanalysis, psychodynamic therapy allows the patient to talk about anything that’s on their mind. The subconscious thought is encouraged so that a therapist can uncover thought and behavior patterns that may contribute to distress. Psychodynamic therapy can focus on current events as well as childhood and past events.
Unlike cognitive behavioral therapy, a usual practice that is called psychodynamic therapy is on a long-term basis. It is an intensive form of talk therapy designed to treat depression, eating disorders, somatic symptoms, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.
These are designed to help the patient develop self-acceptance. For those who struggle with low esteem and depression, this can be a beneficial form of talk therapy. By focusing on current life, a humanistic approach to counseling is different from psychodynamic treatment.
Possible techniques used in humanistic therapy include role-playing, reenacting, and active listening. Those who are suffering from relationship difficulties, trauma, or depression can all benefit from humanistic treatment.
Dialectic Behavior Therapy
DBT is a form of talk therapy that identifies negative thinking patterns by using favorable behavior modification. It is one of the most popular therapies for those who struggle with impulsive behavior and suicidal ideation or self-destructive behavior.
By accepting the patient’s experience of what is happening, a patient’s trust is at the forefront. Unlike many other talk therapy practices, DBT comprises several components, including individual therapy and group skills training. Many patients who have had little success in other forms of therapy do well with this type of intensive therapy.
Interpersonal therapy mainly focuses on depression and relationship issues. An interpersonal counselor can address relationships and mood cycles that impact one another.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
EMDR uses talking and sensation techniques to help those who may be suffering from trauma. Specific eye movements can help reframe memories and situations so that patients no longer have to endure flashbacks or intrusive thoughts. This type of therapy generally lasts between 8 and 12 sessions.
The Efficacy of Talk Therapy
Many people assume all talk therapies are the same. In reality, just as patients are unique, so are their therapies. While cognitive-behavioral therapy may work for some people with depression, it does not necessarily work for all.
Finding the right therapy is crucial when treating mental health issues. With a suitable form of treatment and counselor, therapy can help solve relationship and mood issues.
You may have heard about talk or cognitive behavioral therapies before but not know what they entail. They're both great for different reasons and it's important to find
which one will work best for you!
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Counseling can take many different forms. In addition to mental illness, many people seek therapy because of circumstantial issues. Depending on the person, there are a wide variety of treatment options available.
Not everyone who receive mental health treatment are mentally ill. Life provides everyone with certain challenges that may feel overwhelming. Needing professional help to overcome life obstacles is separate from having a mental illness.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, a mental illness is a condition that is associated with distress or a problem functioning in social, work, or family environments. A mental illness is diagnosable and occurs when a significant change occurs in the foundation of emotions, communication, self-esteem, or realistic perception.
Examples of diagnosable mental illnesses include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, clinical depression, socialized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more. Although mental illness can be brought on by external factors such as trauma or life circumstance, mental illness can also be rooted in biology. For severe cases of mental illness involving schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, medication is often a necessity.
Mental health does not describe a class of people. Regardless of personal, relational, or mood functioning, everybody has mental health. Because we are an emotional species, understanding and coping with our thoughts and feelings is essential. Visiting a mental health professional can help an individual uncover subconscious thought patterns, change problematic behavior, process grief, and repair relationships.
If you are going through a hard time and thinking of seeking professional help, here are three steps you can take to get ready for this process.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
A great deal of energy can be spent avoiding unwanted feelings and emotions. Whether you’re experiencing marital problems, living through a death in the family, or experiencing a change in routine, it can be second nature to deny your feelings. By masking them through using substances like alcohol or drugs or by avoiding them through long hours at the office, you can actually prolong suffering. The first step to overcoming difficult obstacles is to acknowledge the feelings surrounding them. Once this is done, you can accept the need for help.
If you do not feel particularly hopeful about a situation, let alone the future as a whole, it will be hard to manage whatever it is you are dealing with. By assigning small goals that can be realistically accomplished, you can start to have hope for a better life. This is not an easy step. For those who are feeling depressed or extremely anxious, having hope in the future may involve finding outside help. A mental health professional can guide you through the process of overcoming painful emotions. Many people find comfort knowing they are not alone in their struggles.
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Most people find that they recover from mental health problems after seeking professional help. While the time frame for everyone is different, an increase in energy is common. Making plans that are designed around small, individual goals can help boost confidence and happiness. Set goals for yourself and be ready to discuss those during your counseling sessions.
Therapy can help with all kinds of life circumstances. Whether you’re adjusting to a new routine or grieving the loss of a loved one, talking through the issues can improve behavior and mood. During a crisis, it is easy to become cognitively overwhelmed and when life feels unmanageable, our coping skills can decline.
Visiting a mental health professional is one way to feel secure and confident in a variety of situations.
Are you feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed?
Therapy can help. It's not just for people with mental illnesses. It's for anyone who wants to feel better about themselves and their lives. Therapy is a process of talking through your thoughts and feelings in a safe space with someone who understands what you're going through. You'll learn how to cope with stressors in your life that are causing anxiety or depression so they don't control you anymore.
If therapy sounds like something that could benefit you,
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Are you thinking about getting therapy?
If you’ve never been to a therapist before, you may be wondering what to expect and how exactly a stranger can help you with your problems. These are very common and fair concerns!
Good therapists offer you a large arsenal of therapeutic methods and research-based treatments. In fact, according to a study called Enduring Effects for Cognitive Behavior Therapy in the Treatment of Depression and Anxiety by Steven D. Hollon et al. “cognitive and behavioral interventions have enduring effects that reduce the risk for subsequent symptom return following treatment termination.”
In other words, therapy has shown to continue benefiting you even after you’ve stopped going! Finding a good therapist is often the first step in your mental health journey, besides deciding to seek help.
Read on for five ways a good therapist can help you resolve your issues.
Finding the Root of the Issue
Often, the issue you are dealing with has a much deeper root that you may not even be aware of. Sitting at home trying to find the source alone doesn’t work for many people. We don’t have an outside view of ourselves and our issues, but therapists do.
Upon talking to them about what is bothering you, they may catch onto something you've probably not noticed, at all. From there, you could attempt to fix the root of the problem rather than just struggling with its effects.
Deal With Depression
One of the most prevalent mental illnesses in our society is depression. Depression can wreak havoc on your life and greatly diminish your wellbeing. Because depression is so relevant, therapists have developed many different ways to help people deal with it. Sometimes a mindset change is all someone needs to begin the journey out of depression, and a qualified therapist is the first step to recovery.
Dismantle Your Fears
Fear is something many struggle with, and it can hold you back from living life to its full potential. A good therapist can help you deal with your fears and phobias in constructive ways.
Bringing Out Repressed Emotions
Yes, the thought of bringing up repressed memories and emotions is horrifying. Still, if you leave let them fester you; they will affect your wellbeing, quality of life, and relationships. Talk therapy provides an efficient venue for dealing with repressed emotions for a better and healthier you.
Life Skill Tools
While you and your therapist work through your issues, they will give you exercises and advice to get you through your problems and tough times, as well as help you build efficient life skills. All these will enrich your personal growth journey making you emotionally healthier, stronger, and better able to cope with life.
A Place Of Trust
The ultimate crux of therapy is your relationship with your therapist. Therapy is a place of trust, and the therapist is your best confidant. Remember that everything that takes place in therapy is 100% confidential (by law), and the therapist can not divulge anything you tell them (unless you disclose that you are planning to hurt someone).
In this place of trust, you can be yourself, and talk about the most personal issues, no matter how scary, shameful or difficult. The trust relationship facilitates your ability to be honest and therefore provide the best forum for dealing with and overcoming any issues you may have.
There are many assessment tests a therapist can employ to evaluate your mental health. If you think you may have a generalized anxiety disorder, for instance, your therapist can give you a test to diagnose it. Your therapist should also be able to draw upon their education and years of experience to test you for things you may have never thought to ask for. These tests are critical for forming a treatment plan.
In therapy, you get to enjoy sharing with a bright, neutral, and non-judgmental person. Maybe all you need are some resources and a push in the right direction. Your therapist can help you with struggles in personal relationships, painful issues, any defects you want to overcome and can even help you with your career concerns.
It is also fine if you need to vent. There are no wrong answers! Wanting to talk with a professional is a valid reason to go into therapy. You may even find that checking in every month or every other week is helpful.
Therapists have an arsenal of scientific knowledge and treatments at their disposal. They will first work with you to identify specific problems you want to address. You may walk in feeling a general dissatisfaction about your life. Your therapist will help you determine what, specifically, is making you less satisfied.
Once problems are identified, your therapist can suggest treatments. However, unlike at your primary care doctor’s office, you will need to be an active participant in these treatments. You will need to be an active participant in finding what to treat as well! You will only get from therapy what you put into it.
Therapy is not a must for everyone, but it is not a bad idea. Therapists are trained to help others process their issues. Even if you need only to vent or gain self-awareness, therapy is worth the time.
Ultimately, the goal of personal growth can get a considerable boost when you find a partner in the person of your therapist to help you through that journey.
Mindfulness is a practice that emphasizes awareness of thoughts, feelings, sensations as a means of gaining more insight, increasing attention, improving concentration, and enhancing self-control, among many other benefits. The ultimate idea is that positive changes can be made to influence our attitudes and behaviors for the better via mindfulness producing improvements in these areas.
When it comes to situations and stimuli that can trigger fear and uncertainty, mindfulness can be a powerful tool in one’s arsenal to combat it. There are several specific ways mindfulness can promote mental health during times of fear and uncertainty, ultimately promoting overall wellness too.
Research shows that regularly practicing mindfulness can reduce stress. Since increased stress affects both short-term and long-term exposure to fear, reduction of stress is a valuable benefit. A 2010 study explored this by randomly assigning participants to an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction group and comparing this group against controls on self-reported measures of depression, anxiety, and psychopathology, and on neural reactivity as measured by fMRI after watching sad films.
Researchers concluded that the participants who experienced mindfulness-based stress reduction had significantly less anxiety, depression, and somatic distress than the control group. Thus, this demonstrated that mindfulness meditation increased positive affect and decreased anxiety and negative affect (Davis & Hayes, 2012).
Mindfulness is also known to improve attention over time. This can be hugely beneficial when trying to cope with fear and uncertainty because one can use mindfulness to shift focus away from the source of the anxiety and towards something healthier and more positive. A 2009 study by Moore and Malinowski explored how mindfulness affected participants’ ability to focus attention and suppress distracting information.
In the study, a group of experienced mindfulness meditators was compared with a control group with no meditation experience. The conclusion was that the meditation group had significantly better performance on all measures of attention and had higher self-reported mindfulness.
Mindfulness meditation practice and self-reported mindfulness were directly related to attentional functioning and cognitive flexibility (Davis & Hayes, 2012).
Less Emotionally Reactive
Often, fear causes panic, poor judgment, and poor reasoning. This can cause people to respond to fear and uncertainty very emotionally without adequately thinking things through.
However, research on mindfulness meditation shows that it decreases emotional reactivity. In a study that looked at people with experience in mindfulness meditation, evidence revealed that mindfulness meditation helped people disengage from emotionally upsetting circumstance. It also allowed them to focus on cognitive tasks better than people who saw the same images but did not practice mindfulness meditation (Davis & Hayes, 2012).
The final conclusion was that the meditation helped participants respond more appropriately emotionally (i.e. calmly) when presented with an image that should have created an adverse emotional reaction like fear or stress.
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Rumination can be defined as deep or considered thought about something. While not necessarily bad, when faced with fear and uncertainty, ruminating on the situation or the issue can lead to mental and emotional distress. However, several studies have shown that mindfulness reduces rumination. In one study by Chamber et. al. in 2008, participants who were new to meditation were asked to participate in a 10-day intensive mindfulness meditation retreat.
Following the retreat, the meditation group reported significantly higher mindfulness and a decreased negative affect than a control group. They also experienced fewer depressive symptoms and less rumination (Davis & Hayes, 2012).
Ultimately, each of these positive impacts promotes mental health, especially during times of fear and uncertainty. When we are less stressed, less emotionally reactive, have better attention, and spend less time ruminating on fearful situations/stimuli, we are better positioned to make decisions, engage with others, and navigate through life with positivity.
Thus, finding ways to practice mindfulness via meditation and similar practices can prove to be a strong strategy for improving and maintaining mental health during times of fear and uncertainty.
Davis, & Hayes. (2012). What are the benefits of mindfulness? https://www.apa.org. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner
Are you feeling stressed?
Mindfulness can be achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. It's been shown to reduce stress levels and anxiety.
With mindfulness techniques such as meditation, you can learn how to live in the now - without regretting what happened yesterday or worrying about what will happen tomorrow. You'll be able to better cope with life's inevitable difficulties when they arise. And it doesn't cost anything!
All you need is a few minutes to get started.
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Maybe you’re unsure of where your next paycheck is coming from. Perhaps you’re in an at-risk population and know that developing COVID-19 could prove to be fatal. Or there’s a possibility that you’re struggling mentally with the loneliness resulting from social isolation.
The most important thing you can do while living in an uncertain and risky world is prioritizing and caring for your mental health. Let’s talk about six ways that you can do that.
Do things you enjoy
One of the best ways to keep your spirits up during a crisis is to do things that make you genuinely happy. That could mean binge-watching your favorite television sitcom, listening to your favorite songs, or even going for a leisurely drive along a scenic highway. Try to do something you love at least once a day. Then, experiment with new hobbies if you’re feeling adventurous.
Stay away from drugs and alcohol
You may feel bored, lonely, or stressed during the pandemic. That might make you want to turn to drugs and alcohol to either entertain yourself, relax, or escape the negative emotions you’re feeling.
Using substances for any of these reasons and especially at times of great adversity and emotional and mental upset makes you more likely to develop an addiction or an unhealthy coping strategy. For the sake of your mental health, it’s best to avoid drugs and alcohol at this time entirely.
Focus on your physical health
There’s a direct link between your mental health and your physical health, and one does not exist without the other. Therefore, you must prioritize a healthy diet, frequent exercise, and adequate sleep.
Each of these has the potential to improve your mood and reduce your current level of stress. Commit to a workout schedule (perhaps five days a week), eating a balanced diet (add as many colors as possible), and sleeping (try for 7-9 hours).
Find a way to cope
The best way to protect your mental health is by having a healthy coping mechanism to help you work through your emotions. Luckily, this is the perfect time to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. Be sure to experiment with healthy methods, such as meditation, reading, deep breathing, exercising, or expressing yourself via art. The perfect coping strategy will ease your mind and reduce your stress.
Stick to a routine
At first, having a ton of free time was relieving. But at a certain point, you most likely lost your motivation and desire to stick to a schedule during your day-to-day life. Though a bit of freedom is great, your mental health should stick to some sort of routine schedule, especially during these trying times. Be sure to shower and change your clothes each morning, eat around the exact times each day, and create a work schedule that you can stick to. Consistency is key.
Stay in contact with loved ones
While you’re thankful to be physically healthy during this crisis, your social relationships have been negatively impacted. Not being able to spend time with your family and friends has led you to feel lonely and isolated.
To keep your relationships and improve your mental health, be sure to stay in contact with those most important to you. Schedule video calls with your best friends, and don’t let the physical distance deter your relationships.
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There’s a good chance that this pandemic will take a toll on your mental health in some way. But when your low mood or stress becomes debilitating, you might be better off making an appointment with a therapist or a counselor instead. Try the methods above first and give them time to work but know when to get professional help.
Mental health is a priority for most of us, but it's not always easy to
find the resources to take care of yourself.
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In current times life is full of fear and uncertainty. You may not know when things will get back to normal, whether you’ll get your job back when businesses start opening back up, or if you’ll stay healthy for the remainder of the year.
It can be straightforward to lose hope, but that’s perhaps the most essential thing you can hold onto during this crisis. So, let’s talk about why that is.
The Belief that Things Will Get Better
After so many months in lockdown during this pandemic, it’s easy to believe that things will never get better. You may assume that if things were going to get better, they would’ve by now. By holding onto hope, you can hold onto the belief that things will get better in time.
Think about the worst thing that’s ever happened in your life that you thought you’d never survive. You did stay, and now you know that even the most traumatic events in your life will turn around eventually. Hold onto hope and trust that something better is coming in the future.
Holding onto hope doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t see the world for how it truly is. You’re not turning a blind eye to the problems in today’s society and acting as if they don’t exist…. because you know that they do.
Instead, hope involves recognizing the negatives that are happening but understanding that every situation also comes with positives. Having a positive outlook on every situation can help you to naturally improve your mood and find happiness and joy in even the worst cases.
“Fake It Till You Make It”
If you’re like just about everyone else in America, you’re afraid of what may happen today, a week from now, or even a year from now. This can be draining for the average person in the mental and emotional sense, unsure of what the future holds.
Most people who hold onto hope can implement the idea known as “fake it till you make it.” This is a theory that states that acting as if something is true will eventually make it true. You may remind yourself that you’re happy, that things will get better, and that you’ll survive this.
The Spread of Hope
The great thing about hope is that it tends to be contagious. Just by remaining hopeful around your family members or friends, it might start rubbing off on them. This can help to improve the mood and the outlook of those around you.
On the other hand, helping those around you can also end up helping you in the long run. If you happen to lose hope temporarily, it may just be those you’ve built up that come to bring you back up with them. It’s all about creating a positive support system in your circle.
Not Letting Fear Consume You
Have you ever felt extreme fear about something in your life?
If so, then there’s a chance that you experienced racing thoughts and extreme anxiety wondering what might happen. That’s precisely how many people are feeling in the current environment.
The thing about hope is that it somewhat reverses your fears. So instead of having every single thought in your mind focused on your worries and recent events, you can return your ideas to other things in your life. Less focus on fear can help you to focus on the good stuff.
Watch this Video
Finding PEACE in Christ
Hope is necessary if you want to make it through the current pandemic and state of the world with your mental health intact. To maintain hope and preserve your mental health, it’s a great idea to stay positive, surround yourself with good people, and limit your fears.
You deserve to feel better.
Life coaching is a process of self-discovery that helps you identify your values and goals, create achievable plans for change, and take the necessary steps to make those changes happen. It’s an investment in yourself—in your mental health and well-being.
Let me help you find hope again with life coaching sessions tailored specifically for you! I will work with you one on one or in groups to provide support, encouragement, guidance, and accountability. Together we can get through this difficult time with hope and peace!
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By Holly Miller
“Are you ready for the new school year?” is a question I hear every year earlier and earlier into my summer break. It always makes me squirm with anxiety in a regular year. This year, when the questions started coming in July, I answered with “I can’t even get my head around that yet!” I spent the good portion of August ignoring it. Even as I woke to attend my first in-service, I was still in denial that the new school year was starting. To say the start of this year has been challenging is an understatement. Teaching always presents new challenges from year-to-year, but with all of the Covid restrictions, seeing my classes for only 88 minutes once a week and coming up with digital lessons for the rest of the week for them, managing students in-person as well as live on Zoom, ensuring I am covering all of the high school math curriculum at the same pace in this platform, and trying my best to keep my students and myself safe with sanitizing, social distancing, and mask-wearing, I do not recognize what I am doing this year as teaching. And I have 100% NOT been ok mentally. I have sobbed every day after work for at least an hour when I got home up until last week. I wrote this social media post in the height of my anxiety:
I’ve had 5 panic attacks in the last 5 days. I am 100% convinced I cannot do my job. The only way I could convince myself to leave my house today was to mobile order a Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew from Starbucks. Something good waiting for me outside of my house. I picked my drink up and headed to work. Except I didn’t. I went the complete opposite way. Trying to get myself turned around and heading in the right direction, I drive by the place where we found Murdoch after 3 weeks of hopeless hell. I am taking this as a sign that there are things I was convinced were impossible but they came to be and it can happen again. I’m completely lost. But I’m going to do the next right thing.
"I've seen dark before, but not like this
This is cold, this is empty, this is numb
The life I knew is over, the lights are out
Hello, darkness, I'm ready to succumb
This grief has a gravity, it pulls me down
But a tiny voice whispers in my mind
You are lost, hope is gone
But you must go on
And do the next right thing
Can there be a day beyond this night?
I don't know any more what is true
I can't find my direction, I'm all alone.
How to rise from the floor?
But it's not you I'm rising for
Just do the next right thing
Take a step, step again
It is all that I can to do
The next right thing
I won't look too far ahead
It's too much for me to take
But break it down to this next breath, this next step
This next choice is one that I can make
So I'll walk through this night
Stumbling blindly toward the light
And do the next right thing
And, with it done, what comes then?
When it's clear that everything will never be the same again
Then I'll make the choice to hear that voice
And do the next right thing"
- The Next Right Thing, Frozen 2
Murdoch in this story was our beloved dog my husband and I had before we were married. A friend was watching him in 2012 when we went to New York City for the day. He was a very anxious dog and when she went to let him out, he snapped his leash and ran off. Murdoch was lost for 3 entire weeks. 21 days. Over Christmas. We did absolutely everything we could to bring him home. We barely slept, barely ate, and were out in the cold and snow non-stop posting flyers, talking to people to ask if they saw him, checking out reported sightings, trekking through wooded areas, streams, and fields to find him. While we felt so hopeless, we never gave up. I never prayed for something harder in my life. 21 days later, down to the hour he escaped, we got a call that he was sighted near a housing development in a field. We were able to secure him. We got him back 6 miles from our house. It was an unbelievable miracle that came true. I always look to this as my personal miracle and proof that with God, all things are possible.
I bring up this story because often when I read in the Bible of Jesus performing miracles and his disciples doubting him, I always get kind of frustrated with his disciples at first. “Um, He is JESUS! You’ve witnessed this man do miracle after miracle! How can you doubt him?!” And then I realize I do the same in my own life. When I got lost on my way to work (seriously, how do you get lost on your way to a place you have driven to over and over again for years) and drove by the spot where God granted me the biggest miracle of my life, I knew it was no mistake. I was being reminded of who is in control when I feel out of control. Despite how terrible I am feeling mentally, how difficult I am finding it to do my job and even just function as a human being, despite my fears, doubts, and worries, I know I have already won this mental battle.
“No, we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” – Romans 8:37-38
I sometimes get so caught up in drowning that I forget to look up to see that I’ve been rescued all along. While starting the school year has been tough on all of us, teachers, students, and parents, I am trying my best to remember that this battle I am trying so hard to fight has already been fought and won. Not only will we get through this rough patch, we will more than conquer it.
While Holly Miller has eclectic passions, interests, and hobbies, she is easily summed up as a high school mathematics teacher who found a way to thrive despite her anxiety and depression. Her goal is to spread awareness about mental health, inspire those who struggle to see that they are not alone and show them that they can find light in even the darkest of places. She enjoys spending time with her husband Luke, their two dogs, two cats, and Russian tortoise. While she may not have many impressive credentials, Holly believes there is magic in the ordinary every day and that a simple life is a good life. Holly can be reached email@example.com
By Cherie Faus Smith
I have always considered myself a strong woman. After all, I’ve survived three abusive relationships involving intimate partners, am a melanoma cancer survivor, and clawed myself out of the trenches of depression and anxiety that left me with dirty fingernails.
Do I feel sorry for myself? NO!
Why don’t I? Because I have a strong woman in my life who has shown me what it takes to be a survivor, I call her mom.
Looking back on my childhood, I realize that my strength came from watching her persevere.
As a teenager, it was a tough transition. I left my friends and moved to a neighborhood full of strangers.
My brother and I made the best of it even though we found trouble or trouble found us (shh…that’s a secret).
There is a saying that my parents often repeated, "If things aren't going your way, punt. It's not the end of the world." That has stuck with me my entire life because life isn’t always easy – there are lots of lessons to be learned along the way.
Thanks to her, I’ve grown into a strong and confident woman. But what happens when that woman breaks?
Recently, we said goodbye to our precious dog, Sadie. It was unexpected, and she has left an enormous hole in our hearts.
When I found her, she was standing on the side of the road, eating pebbles. I wasn't supposed to be on that road that day. The path that I usually take was under construction, and there was a large orange detour sign. I was annoyed knowing I was already late, but then I saw her - this beautiful creature with black fur, cream paws, and tan markings above her eyes.
I stopped and opened the van door. She immediately hopped inside, walked to the front, and plopped herself on the passenger seat, looking at me as if to say, "Hey, let's go! Floor it, lady."
We did everything we could to find her owner, but after a month of no luck, we made her part of our family.
She instantly became my shadow and was by my side during my cancer diagnosis and recovery, depression, and anxiety bouts. Most importantly, she was there day in and day out for the last nine years to provide constant companionship. She was the best dog ever, and I miss her every day.
The day after we said goodbye, I sat on the sofa, bawling my eyes out while my body shook. I was inconsolable, and even my husband couldn’t help. I’m sure he felt extremely helpless, watching me fall apart.
I distinctly remember saying, "I'm breaking."
She was going to be my riding partner once I bought that Jeep that I’ve had my eyes on for the past year.
She was going to fill that void when our son moves into his place this fall.
I had so many plans for the two of us. Life isn't fair, and I wanted more time with her.
I’m a fighter.
I'm a survivor.
I'm a tough cookie.
But even strong women break.
I have a passion for supporting women and created a Facebook Group called Sisterhood of Fabulous and Fearless Women. Would love for you to join.
A lot has happened in the past couple of weeks and we are all impacted at one level or another. Dealing with the emotional (and other) toll of corona was hard enough and now the issues of social injustice, racism, and safety are front and center. Many have lost their lives in the past week and beyond.
In the past few days, I have had many courageous conversations in diverse circles. I talked with my church small group on what the church can do to be the solution. I have also had friends who asked me what they could do to help. Emotions are high and so is helplessness.
And I understand both but I want to remind each of us that we need to have faith and hold on to hope. We also need to remember thatchange starts with each one of us. In order to change the world around us, we need to first change ourselves.
Furthermore, I want to tell you personally that I see you. I see you wanting to do your best and feeling like it's not enough. I see you having so much to say and not sure if it's the "right" thing to say. I see you wanting to make a difference and not sure where to begin.
I see you being filled with anger, frustration, sadness, confusion and even despair at times. And I see you. I see you because I too, am dealing with similar emotions and I have been working hard at recentering myself.
I see you and I want you to know that you are not alone in what you think and feel.
I see you and I'm only a click away if you need a safe place to be heard.
I see you and I want to hold space for you!
The recent events have been affecting my emotions big time and I needed to center myself in prayer this morning, maybe you need this as well. If you would like to pray with us on a regular basis, join us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/PrayWithChou/
It's so easy to let life and everything happening around us, bring us down. But don't see the full picture and don't know the full story. Acknowledging that not only brings peace but also hope.
BY Holly Miller
I have prayed for things that have miraculously, against all odds, have come to be. The moment of answered prayer is truly extraordinary. I have experienced overwhelming joy as an impossible prayer has been answered. It affirms your faith and gives you confidence that there is good in this dark world. But has God ever answered a constant prayer with a gentle but firm “no”? What then? I have prayed for many things that God has tenderly turned down. Miracle denied. These moments can rattle your faith to your core. Mourning with loved ones over a miscarriage, watching a dear family member deteriorate and die from a terrible illness, finding out a student lost his battle with depression and having to attend his funeral, saying goodbye to someone who left us far too young. These moments shatter hearts and turn even the most faithful to doubt. How can a supposed ‘loving God’ allow so much suffering, sadness, and, and pain?
One thing I have prayed for most of my life is for God to lift my anxiety and depression. Just completely wipe it from my life. Some days it is such a heavy burden and I would love to set it down for good and never have these disorders show their ugly faces in my life ever again. I have prayed numerous times for this cup to pass from me. And I have been met with an answer to that prayer. It is a definite and heart-breaking “no”. It has been made abundantly clear to me that God intends me to carry my anxiety and depression all of the days of my life. And at one point (and I am sure there will be many similar times to come) I was so sad and angry about it. I even walked completely away from my faith for a few years because I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t granted relief from my torturous brain.
When I was younger, under my anxiety ran a river of rage. It was silent, pushed deep down inside my heart. Many people would probably be surprised to know how angry I sometimes got; that I felt the way I did. Even now, my anxiety and depression is sometimes too much to bear. There are days when all I can do is cry and yell “why have you made me this way?!” over and over to God. Sometimes I am too numb and calloused to even argue with Him. I just sit in stunned silence while my brain attacks me. But as I started feeling a gentle nudge to tell my story, my struggles, my triumphs, and my gritty life of living with General Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Major Depressive Disorder, I have found encouragement as well. When someone pulls me aside to talk about mental health or sends me a message saying “me too”, the solidarity and love I feel for that person outweighs all of the pain. People who have thanked me for being so open and sharing my story have touched my life more than they know. Many who share their lives with me have given me the strength to carry on; to keep writing my story no matter how ugly or painful it can sometimes be. In sharing my struggle, I have found that I am spreading awareness and saving lives. That alone makes the battle worth it (most days). Being able to reach out and show others that they are not alone in the sometimes-scary thoughts that reside in our heads helps me carry on and fight my fight.
I have always loved the Lord of the Rings series with its themes of bearing burdens. If you are not familiar with the series, a young hobbit named Frodo is tasked with the burden of carrying an evil ring on a long journey to its destruction. The effect the ring has on Frodo often makes it too difficult for him to move forward. He finds encouragement from his friends along the way, one being a wise wizard named Gandalf.
Frodo: 'I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.'
Gandalf: 'So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides that of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, in which case you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.”
I always loved this conversation and it has helped me to carry on as well. While I would never ask for anxiety and depression disorders that often debilitate me, it is encouraging (as strange as that sounds) that I was chosen to bear this load. I was granted this journey, whether I want to take it or not, to show the world that one CAN stand up under these diagnoses. I don’t claim to know the inner-workings of God or understand why the world is sometimes in the sorry state it is. I don’t know your struggle, your pain, your life. I can’t explain away every instance of “why would You let this happen God?” But I do know for me, He will not let this cup pass from me no matter how earnestly and endlessly I ask him to take my mental health struggles away. And I truly believe that is because I am meant to bear this burden, to show others it can be done, and help light the way for those who struggle like I do.
In Matthew 11:28-30, it says “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” We are not promised a burden-free life. In this scripture, we are granted rest in the Lord, but if you read it carefully, there is still a burden to bear. “My burden is light”, yes, but it is still a burden. Even light loads can get heavy when you don’t take time to put them down and rest. We all have burdens we carry. Mine is my anxiety and depression. Although I asked God to take them away, He said “no”. And sometimes a “no” to our prayers isn’t a slammed door or an abrupt end to hope. It is a re-direction into a new, albeit still challenging journey.
If we don’t have darkness, we can’t see the light. I was meant to carry this darkness inside of me so I can show my light to the world. And as Gandalf says to Frodo, “that is an encouraging thought.”
By Cherie Faus Smith
Turning 50 was such a pivotal time in my life. Not only was it the beginning of a new decade, but it was an opportunity for me to embrace the changes I was experiencing such as becoming an empty nester, menopause, weight gain, as well as the aches and pains that accompanied my aging body.
Because there are so many changes happening at once, it was time to make a choice.
I am choosing confidence and courage over fear.
Let us face it, turning 50 can be scary. It may not be as exciting as your 16th, 21st, or even 30th birthday celebrations but it can be if we allow ourselves to be brave and embrace this next chapter in our lives.
A few months before that momentous day, I made a conscious choice to change how I viewed being a 50-year-old woman. After surviving three abusive relationships and cancer, I wanted to show the world that this beautiful and brave woman was not going to allow age to define her.
It is time for other women who are getting ready to step into this new decade to wrap themselves in self-love and believe that they have something special to contribute to the world too.
I am leaning into my 50s by:
Downside of Turning Fifty
Where do I begin? The weight gain, grey hairs, mood swings, droopy breasts, and the oh so lovely hot flashes. And, let us not forget the reading glasses.
I was born with strawberry blonde hair and in my late twenties, I began dyeing (highlighting) my hair blonde. The first time I spotted a grey hair, I flipped out telling my husband that I am too young to be greying. He, of course, just told me that he could not see it because of the blonde. I know he was just trying to be nice but what the heck.
Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the non-essential businesses are closed and that includes my hair salon. I normally see my stylist every 5 weeks to cover those pesky greys. I am not sure when salons will open again but hopefully before my hair turns ALL grey instead of just the roots.
I noticed recently during a TV interview that my boobs were a bit droopy despite buying a brand-new bra. YIKES! That was on live TV, people.
And, last summer, I shared a post of me after a pap exam. You can see the post here - it's funny, I promise.
Transition and Growth
I am learning to accept my body (wrinkles, extra fat, you name it), learning to let go of things I can't change so I can find peace, learning to be grateful for every day that I open my eyes and am able to crawl out of bed. Most of all, I am learning to just live life. This is the only life I have so I should make the best of it.
If you're in your fifties and looking for support, send me an email so we can chat on how I can help you. We are in this together girlfriend.
It' easy to be grateful when things are going well, but do you keep that gratitude going when things get tough? Here are 3 ways to be grateful for the hard stuff. I also have a gratitude journal to help you cultivate an attitude of gratitude no matter what you're going through. Get it at http://bit.ly/gratitudejournal2019
We’ve come to the end of our mini-challenge, and we’ve covered quite a bit of information. You’ve learned why acknowledging, embracing and expressing gratitude is so important. You’ve also learned a few specific ways to begin a practice of gratitude in your own life. I’d like to expand on that as we end our challenge to provide you with a more in-depth list of helpful tips to tap into the power of being grateful. You can use these ideas as you move forward in creating your own routine.
Take a Gratitude Walk
Going for a walk is a great way to relieve stress and gain perspective. It offers a number of advantages. You leave your regular environment, get out in the fresh air and move away from distractions. It’s a form of physical exercise that comes with all sorts of health benefits. Walking can even be considered a form of meditation. It’s a fabulous way to focus on gratitude. During this particular jaunt, pay special attention to the things you encounter along the way. Chances are, you’ll discover plenty to be thankful for during your walk.
Make a Gratitude Collage
A fun way to acknowledge your gratefulness in a visual way is to create a gratitude collage. This process works in a similar way as a vision board. You can cut out pictures from a magazine or add personal photos. Your collage can simply be laid out on a poster board or you can get more creative and decorative. You can even keep your board electronically on Pinterest or some other app. The point is to collect images that move you to consider your good fortune. It’s a good idea to put your board in a place where you can see it or access it daily. You might even want to add to it to keep its momentum going.
Hold a Friendsgiving
Friendsgiving is like Thanksgiving, only with friends and chosen family instead of biological family. This special occasion is often held in place of traditional Thanksgiving for those who don’t have family physically nearby or who aren’t emotionally close with their relatives. Sometimes it takes place near the actual holiday. You can get creative, though, and hold your own special gathering, customized to your needs, any time you wish. A gratitude party or get-together can remind you of the people who are most important in your life and enhance existing bonds.
Look for Gratitude in Challenges
Let’s turn things around a bit. You probably know how easy it is to focus on the bad stuff. Sometimes we get stuck in the negative and allow it to weigh us down. That’s natural, but you can interrupt that cycle by consciously working to find the gratitude in life’s challenges. Look for the lessons or the silver linings. Be sure to write them down in your gratitude journal or make a note of them in some formalized way so that you can look back and remember the good that came from adversity.
One of the most impactful ways to gain perspective and be grateful for what you have is to help others in need. This can be through a formal volunteer effort with a philanthropic organization or it can simply be something like helping a neighbor you see who could use a hand with his lawn. No matter what the effort, you’ll reap the rewards when you pitch in to give to others. Try to do something to help someone else at least once a week, and you’re sure to experience a boost in gratitude.
Give these ideas a try. Research or brainstorm some additional ones on your own. Just get started so you can see just what a difference embracing a mindset of gratitude can have on your entire life.
We’ve talked about the process of writing in a gratitude journal and the kinds of benefits that activity can offer. Writing is a powerful process. Sharing your written words of appreciation with others can have an even bigger impact than journaling privately. Personal notes can really brighten a person’s day, and make many positive impacts in the lives of those receiving them and those giving them.
Writing Has Power
In a busy world, we can get caught up in ourselves and the things we absolutely must accomplish each day. It’s easy to forget to acknowledge the important people in our lives. It’s for precisely this reason that receiving a note of thanks or appreciation is so very meaningful. People simply don’t receive these spontaneous offerings on a regular basis. That’s why setting aside the time and taking the effort to write such a message is so powerful, for both you and the receiver.
Sharing Gratitude Strengthens Bonds
A personal note or message goes far to show you care. Words have meaning, but it’s often said that actions speak louder. The recipient of your note will be surprised to receive it. A positive surprise almost always improves someone’s day and mood. This can be especially impactful if you intentionally send your message to someone you know is going through a rough patch. Regardless, this small gesture will go far to strengthen existing bonds because it’s such a customized act. When people feel a personal attachment, they tend to experience feelings of closeness and meaning. Your written acknowledgement of their importance in your life will surely affect your relationship in a positive way.
Ideas to Get You Started
Your words of gratitude don’t have to be in hand-written form, though it truly is a nice touch that’s a rarity these days. You can send electronic correspondence, if you prefer. Your message doesn’t have to be long, either. Any written words of appreciation will be a start and can be quite meaningful.
Here are some examples:
***Grab my new gratitude journal and start cultivating an attitude of gratitude.
If you’re still on the fence about starting a practice of gratitude for yourself, I’d like to issue you a simple challenge. Just for today, find just one random thing in your environment to be grateful for. This is a low-stakes activity that can be a great way to jumpstart your pursuit of gratitude
What to Look For
It’s easy, really. There are things to be grateful for, even on the difficult days. In fact, it’s even more impactful when you discover little rays of light in the darkest times. You can look for anything within your daily routine that inspires you. If you don’t leave your home that day due to sadness or inability, perhaps the very roof over your head could be your source of gratitude. Even a beautiful flower out your window might be enough to influence your mood for the better. Find just one thing and focus on that.
What You Can Expect
Let’s be realistic. Taking a minute to notice one thing you’re grateful for in your day probably isn’t going to completely change your life. However, it could be a significant jumpstart toward moving you in the right direction. This is especially true when you’re going through a difficult period. Turning a long-standing low mood around even slightly by acknowledging one small good thing can be quite meaningful. Remember, our thoughts influence our feelings and behaviors.
Sometimes all it takes is one small catalyst to spark major change. Some consider this the “baby steps” philosophy. Every habit or practice begins with one small step. Taking a moment to be grateful for just one thing in your environment today can improve your mood, even just a little bit. You may notice a weight is lifted from your chest or that some of your anxiety has eased. Hold onto that feeling. Notice whether your perspective improves after reflecting on gratitude just once today. This lift in your mood and brightened outlook can lead you to feeling better, which then influences your actions in a positive manner. You might just notice it’s a bit easier to find that one thing to be grateful for tomorrow.
Give it a try. Find one tiny spark to light the flame of gratitude today. Be intentional in noticing the effect it has on you. You may find it’s simpler and more rewarding than you realized to begin your gratitude practice.
*** Are you keeping track of what you are grateful for? Here is a journal to help you do that!
You’ve probably heard of both meditations and affirmations, though you may be uncertain of just what they are and how they work. These two practices are actually quite simple to add to your routine or even to use in a particularly stressful moment to gain perspective. Let’s take a look at how to use gratitude meditations and affirmations to boost your spirit anytime.
What Are Meditations?
A meditation is really just a practice of taking some quiet time to be mindful and focus your attention on a particular thought or issue. It’s a moment of silent reflection that focuses you on the here and now. Gratitude meditations involve focusing your thoughts on being grateful for the particulars of your life or situation, even the ones that may not seem so positive. Your gratitude journaling can be considered a meditation, even. Any contemplative, purposeful time spent focused on being grateful can fall into this category.
What Are Affirmations?
Affirmations are short, concise and positive sentences that are meant to purposefully affect the ways in which we think and feel. These can be in both conscious and unconscious ways. What we think greatly influences how we feel and behave. Introducing these positive messages into your life on a regular basis can help you to internalize them and begin living accordingly. Gratitude affirmations focus specifically on being grateful and appreciative.
How to Use Them
Both meditation and affirmation are easy to put into practice. They can be used almost any time and anywhere. When you think of meditation, a long, intensive ritual may come to mind. In actuality, you don’t need to spend a lot of time meditating in order to reap the benefits. Simply sitting quietly for a few minutes and contemplating on what you’re grateful for can help to center you and to provide new perspective, which often will lead to feeling better. If you want something more structure or have more time, you can look up guided gratitude meditations online or grab a meditation app to try. I personally use Abide and Headspace.
When it comes to affirmations, a good practice might be to combine them with your gratitude journal. Write down positive messages that apply to your life and help to inspire or motivate you. Perhaps you want to keep them in a separate journal or store them online. Then you can pull out your collection of affirmations for a pick-me-up when you need one.
Gratitude meditations and affirmations are simple tools that offer a big return. They take only a few minutes to practice, and you really don’t need any special equipment. Give them a try when you feel you could use an injection of gratitude in your life.
***You can write you affirmations in your gratitude journal.
Once you get into the habit of contemplating what you’re grateful for each day, it’s time to consider making it a written activity. This can be intimidating for people who don’t like to write or who feel they may not have time to dedicate to such a practice. In all honestly, it really doesn’t take much more time to write it down than to simply think on what you appreciate, and you don’t need strong writing skills in order to jot down three sentences. Let’s see if we can’t make the process seem less stressful. There truly are some amazing benefits that come from the physical process of creating a record of gratefulness.
More About Gratitude Journals
While it’s called a “gratitude journal”, it’s actually a tool or a record. You don’t have to write in a paper journal. The important part is that you take the time each day to record a few things that make you feel fortunate. Doing so can actually help to manifest more positive things. Writing down what you’re appreciative of each day brings that sense of gratefulness to the forefront. It allows you to focus on the positive, helping you to spot opportunities you might otherwise have missed. Keeping a gratitude journal gives you a written record to pull out and look back on any time you’re feeling less than fortunate. It can provide you with motivation in the toughest of times.
Benefits of a Gratitude Journal
There are many benefits to keeping a gratitude journal. Instilling a writing practice in this way ensures that you maintain a focus on positivity. Sure, sometimes bad things may happen, but this overall emphasis on finding the good can help to provide you with the resilience to keep going. Your stress levels will decrease as you begin embracing an attitude of gratitude. Plus, the act of writing can be therapeutic in itself. Writing also helps to give you a different perspective on things that you might not see as readily without engaging in the process. You can identify patterns and insight into your life that might help you to find opportunities and to grow.
Tips for Using Your Journal
The most important thing when it comes to a gratitude journal is consistency of practice. Some journal twice daily. Others prefer once. Regardless, it will only be effective if you use it regularly. One of the best ways to help yourself want to use your journal is to choose a format you enjoy.
Don’t force yourself to write in a journal by hand if you prefer to use electronic methods. You can keep your records in a simple word processing spreadsheet or use one of many apps that are available for this purpose. On the other hand, if you are inspired by a beautifully-bound paper journal, find one that speaks to you and start writing your thoughts down immediately. No matter what you use, keep it handy by your bedside or on easily accessed devices.
Turn your routine into a ritual. Make it a process that feeds your soul. Incorporate your morning coffee into your journal writing or light a candle with a lovely aroma to accompany your routine. Just make it yours.
A gratitude journal can be an insightful and life-changing tool. Remember, you only have to write three simple things you’re grateful for. There’s no need to make it complicated. Start your record keeping practice today and see what it can do for you.
One really easy way to get started on a gratitude practice is to make a habit of counting your blessings both morning and night. You don’t even have to write them down, as in a gratitude journal, if that seems too overwhelming. Simply taking a few minutes when you wake up and before you go to bed is enough to begin cementing this new practice into your routine. Before long, you’ll be easily noticing that blessing abound. Here are some tips to help you begin.
Easing into any habit is usually the best approach. By making it easier on yourself, you’ll be more inclined to continue moving forward. So, try not to put too much pressure on yourself to come up with grand examples of gratitude when you’re just starting out. Just appreciating the bed where you’re starting and ending the day can be something to add to your initial list. Sometimes simply recognizing a tiny blessing can have a big impact.
Add It On
A helpful method for remembering your new gratitude habit is to add it on to your existing routine. Whatever you normally do in the morning and night, be sure to include a few minutes to think of what makes you feel fortunate. For example, if you have tea every morning, this would be a good connection to make. Sitting down for tea will soon become a reminder to contemplate on your three things.
Create Visual Reminders
If you find yourself forgetting to do it or skipping out on your new task, add some visual cues to your environment. Post-it notes are great for this. Stick one on your nightstand. Add another to your bathroom mirror. Technology comes in handy for reminders, as well. Set an alarm on your phone so that you don’t leave the house or fall asleep without taking time to consider what makes you feel thankful.
Turn It Around
You can also try the opposite. Turn complaints around into something positive. Maybe you wake up with a sore back and don’t want to get out of bed. It may seem obvious, but reminding yourself that you’re in overall good health and that you have a safe place to sleep can do wonders for your outlook. Try to find the silver lining. It really works.
A good habit can be jotting things down during the day as they happen. It only takes a few seconds to make a note of what you feel grateful for in that moment. You can reflect on it later during your quiet bedtime routine.
Hopefully, you now see how getting into the habit of recognizing the good thing in life really isn’t all that difficult. A few small changes to your routine and you’ll find it’s actually quite easy to implement this practice.
Gratitude can be simply broken down to appreciating the good things in your life. It doesn’t always seem simple, though. When things are hectic or stressful, finding the silver lining can be challenging. However, learning how to embrace gratitude can significantly boost your happiness. Being grateful offers a host of other benefits you’re probably not aware of, too. Let’s take a closer look at the concept, ways it can improve your life and how to practice it.
There are many definitions of gratitude. Some people believe it’s a feeling or emotion. Others look at it as more of a mood. Still, some folks believe gratitude is a personality trait a person exhibits. These can all be correct. In essence, gratitude elicits satisfaction and appreciation in a person through feelings, actions or even inherent qualities. However, even those of us who may be more inclined to feel grateful on a regular basis through our glass-half-full-optimism likely need to work on evoking such an outlook. Gratitude can be viewed as a practice or something you perform regularly. Most people practice something because it benefits them. This is true of gratitude. As with other practices, you’ll get better at demonstrating gratitude the more you work at it.
Benefits of Embracing Gratitude
There are many benefits of gratitude; many of them have been scientifically proven. Once you begin to understand these, chances are good that you’ll see why it’s so important to develop a grateful mindset. Gratitude can have a positive effect on both physical and mental health. Research has shown it to improve relaxation, sleep quality and energy levels. Being thankful for your blessings can enhance your emotional wellness. You’ll deal better in crisis situations and find you’re more resilient when you’re able to look on the bright side. This can contribute to better relationships, too. Appreciating the positives in life can simply make you feel happier.
Ways to Practice Gratitude
Recognizing your blessings may not come easily at first, but there are some ways to help make it a habit and a regular part of your routine. One of the most convenient and impactful methods for cultivating appreciation is through keeping a gratitude journal. In this practice, you’ll write down three things each day that you’re grateful for, which makes it easier to notice and recognize those good things. Meditation has also been shown to help. Also, making an effort to thank someone each day, for even the smallest thing, opens your eyes and heart to abundance. Giving back and doing good for others can provide tremendous perspective, as well.
Now you have a better idea of just what making a concerted effort to count your blessings can do for your life. Embracing and expressing gratitude are more important than many of us realize.
What gratitude strategy will you practice today?
Chou is a best-selling Author, a Transformational Speaker, Certified Life Coach, Counselor and Consultant on a mission to inspire people to rise above their circumstances. She is passionate about helping others achieve emotional wellness, reach their full potential, and live fulfilling lives. You can contact Chou at firstname.lastname@example.org