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Get a Little Kindness in Your Life

Happy “Randoms Acts of Kindness” day. Showing love and kindness to others actually boosts mental health. Don’t miss the chance to bring positive energy into the world. The hardest battles are those we fight alone or in private and is never a wrong time to give others encouragement and support. Family, friends, coworkers, or strangers can be a great target for random acts of kindness today.

15 IDEAS TO PASS ON THE KINDNESS

1. Text someone something nice. It can be an encouraging quote you like or just a message letting them know how important they are for you

2. Reply to a post you enjoy. Take the effort of making the Internet a positive and constructive place.

3. Thank someone today. Think of someone that did something nice for you and thank them.

4. Water your plant. Think of your plants as if they were your pets, they need nutrients to look beautiful.

5. Start saving funds for a cause you care about. Pick a charity organization or organize your own event and start filling up that piggy bank!

6. Write down someone’s best qualities. Think of someone that can use some encouragement and give them a list of everything wonderful about them.

7. Switch to paperless mail. Be kind to the environment and reduce the junk mail you get.

8. Foster a pet. Adopting a pet is a big commitment but fostering allows you to enjoy their company and help them while they find their forever home.

9. Be kind to your server. When eating out sometimes we can take our service for granted. Be kind to those behind the counter and brighten each other’s days

10. Cook a meal for someone. Who doesn’t love free food, right?!

11. Pick up trash in your neighborhood. Help your community look beautiful and be environmentally friendly. You and other friends can help pick up trash and recycle

12. Leave a surprise in a library book. Help the next reader get a love attack! You can leave a nice bookmark or kind message for whoever gets the book next.

13. Donate clothes and shoes to shelters. People in the community that might be going through a rough time in life will greatly appreciate it. Share what you can with others in need.

14. Complain less. Sometimes is easy to see everything that’s going wrong. How about focusing on the positive? This is a great leadership quality.

15. Be polite on the road. The stress of traffic can get to anyone. Being kind to someone while commuting can change their whole day!


SHARE THE LOVE

For more ideas visit:

https://www.randomactsofkindnes.org

Crying Over Spilled Milk?

“Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk” Day

The past has a lot of lessons to teach. Reflecting on our past mistakes, misfortunes or failures can be helpful to process emotions. When it comes to mental health, our attitude towards the past can influence our emotions and behaviors in the present and the future. It is healthy to give yourself some time to process past events and allow yourself to grieve. We can learn to avoid making the same mistakes, build better coping mechanisms, value forgiveness and/or memories.

However, when constant negative thoughts about our past or uncontrollable events start invading our mind, we are doing what is called rumination. Rumination diminishes our quality of life because we are unable to live in the present moment. A common phrase for this is to “cry over spilled milk,” which gives us no resolution.

Rumination can be identified when we find ourselves having the same thought over, and over again during a prolonged period of time. These thoughts are usually self-defeating and can feel restricting because they seem to have no solution or escape. People ruminate for many reasons, but the most common reasons include:

1. The belief that by ruminating we’ll find a solution or gain insight to a problem

2. Facing ongoing uncontrollable stressors. Overthinking can give us a perceived control over these factors.

Ruminating is detrimental to our mental health. It can intensify depression and anxiety, decrease self-esteem, impair our ability to process emotions, isolate us, and create unhealthy cycles.

TIPS TO STOP RUMINATING

FIND DISTRACTIONS

When you notice you start having non-stop thoughts about the same situation or problem, find things to distract yourself and help you break the cycle.

– Watch a movie

– Call a friend

– Listen to music

– Exercise

– Do a puzzle

– Read a book

CHALLENGE YOUR THOUGHTS

Most of the time ruminating thoughts are irrational and catastrophic, making our problems seem bigger and more dramatic than they really are. The best way to solve these feelings is to question our thoughts and find your strengths. Ask yourself questions such as

What evidence do I have to support this thought?

Is this thought based on facts or feelings?

Will this matter a week from now, a year from now, or 5 years from now?

What would I tell a friend is this situation? or what would a friend say?

IDENTIFY YOUR TRIGGERS

when you find yourself ruminating take note of what’s going on around you. Who is there, what time is it, what were you doing, etc. When you know what triggers negative thoughts you can work on avoiding or managing triggers.

USE A WORRY MAP

Saying “stop worrying” sounds a lot easier than it is to actually do it. A worry map takes you through different steps to manage worrying. If your worry has a solution do it now or make an action plan. If not, then write down on a list for later and let it go. Use this list for “worry postponement”, sometimes not being able to worry causes…worry! Schedule a time in your day for 15 minutes to worry all you want. However you can’t worry outside the scheduled time.

TALK TO A FRIEND OR COUNSELOR

Being able to express out loud our worries, feelings, etc. can be very therapeutic. Having someone validate our experiences and “get it all out” helps us process emotions in a healthy way and provides introspection.

“To let go does not mean to get rid of. To let go means to let be. When we let be with compassion, things come and go on their own.” –Jack Kornfield

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Anxiety: How to manage it

If you’ve ever experienced anxiety, first know you are not alone. Anxiety can make you feel like you can’t get anything done, make your heart rate go up, and lead you to feel as if your mind is racing. But it’s possible to get through your anxiety in the moment. Here are some tips to help you manage your anxiety.

Managing anxiety

Breathe

Research shows that taking deep breaths can actually calm your anxiety. When you’re anxious, your heart rate increases and your breathing becomes shallow; so when you take deep breaths, you are physically changing your anxiety. Take a deep breath in for six seconds and exhale for six seconds. Do this repeatedly and start to notice your heart rate slow and your mind calm.

Distract yourself

When you take a moment to move your mind away from the anxiety, it can help you get to work on what you need to do. Try something as simple as counting to 10. Focus on thinking about each number. When you move your focus elsewhere, you push your anxiety to the side. If you have a little more time, do something like yoga, dancing to your favorite song, or watching a funny video on YouTube.

Talk to someone

One of your best resources is your understanding friends and family. If you’re feeling anxious, call a friend or a family member and tell them how you’re feeling. Those who are understanding will listen and help you work through the anxiety. Sometimes they might say something you need to hear, or maybe by talking with them you’ll be able to talk through the anxiety. Or perhaps the call will be just enough to distract you from the anxiety.

Dealing with anxiety

The tips above aren’t a catch-all, and they certainly won’t make your anxiety go away forever. They’re little things that you can do to manage your anxiety in the moment.

Dealing with anxiety can be an ongoing issue for you, but long-term there are some things you can do to improve your anxiety. First, you have to take care of your body. When you are healthy and well rested, it’s much easier to deal with your anxiety. Make sure you’re eating healthy and getting enough sleep; when you don’t, it’s much easier to slip into worry because your body isn’t being taken care of. Also try to exercise regularly. You can find some fitness tips on the Anxiety and Depression Association of America website.

Try figuring out what triggers your anxiety. When you can find out what’s stressing you out, you can start to deal with it better. Find a therapist that can help you work through your stressors and give you tools to help you get your anxiety under control.

For more tips on managing your anxiety, (such as creating a mantra, journaling, and more), check out Psych Central.

Get Your Head in the Right Space

Did you know…? Your body is extremely intelligent and capable of healing. Often when thinking about our health we fail to see ourselves as complex beings. Our mind and body are always connected and interacting to help us adapt to our environment and keep our functioning in optimal condition. However, when afflictions affect the body or the mind, this delicate balance can be broken and cause an array of physical and emotional symptoms.

Nowadays in Western culture, we have a quick-relief approach to our health. When we feel pain or discomfort we can take a pill and hope to make it go away. Unfortunately, this is a temporal fix and will cause the symptom to come back if we ignore its origin.

Taking the time to figure out the root cause of our health symptoms can seem like a complicated and daunting journey. Treating the root cause of an illness requires commitment since it might include changes in lifestyle and creating new habits. Moreover, they might not bring immediate relief to certain symptoms but they will bring LONG TERM RELIEF and enhance your quality of life.

When a health specialist, being physical or mental health, takes the time to look at every factor that might be contributing to discomfort or illness, they are using Holistic Health. A holistic doctor may use conventional and alternative approaches to treat their patients. For example, a patient that complains of frequent headaches might have to look at medications, diet, sleep pattern, stress levels, and possibly therapy if there’s an emotional component to it.

Psychosomatic Illness and Symptoms

Pyschosomatic illness refers to physical symptoms that are caused by emotional distress and other mental health disturbances rather than an organic cause in the body. A common misconception is that psychosomatic symptoms are not as serious because they are caused by emotions. However, they are very real and need to be treated just like any other illness. Our mind has a great influence on brain structure and functioning, and in effect, our brain influences physical functioning.

Common health issues such as anxiety and depression, as well as high stress, can cause various physical symptoms besides emotional changes.

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Racing heart
  • Muscle tension
  • Sweaty or trembling hands
  • Digestion issues
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakened immune system

MINDFULNESS

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

Mindfulness allows us to heighten our awareness of the present, our surroundings, what we think, and our sensory experiences. The first rule of mindfulness is to learn to accept things as they are.

By practicing mindfulness we gain self-awareness and self-compassion, we allow ourselves to look at our advantages and defects without judgment or biases. When doing this, we also learn to look at others with a different perspective and more empathy.

Research shows that when you train your brain to be mindful, you’re actually remodeling the physical structure of your brain.

The goal of mindfulness is to wake up to the inner workings of our mental, emotional, and physical processes.

Simple Mindfulness Tips

  1. Schedule quiet time. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just anywhere where you can take a time out.
  2. Observe the present moment. The aim of mindfulness is not quieting the mind or attempting to achieve a state of eternal calm. The goal is simple: we’re aiming to pay attention to the present moment, without judgment.
  3. Let judgments go. When we notice judgments arise during our practice, we can make a mental note of them, and let them pass.
  4. Return to observing the present moment as it is. Our minds often get carried away in thought. That’s why mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the present moment.
  5. Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back.

NEUROFEEDBACK

Neurofeedback can help you treat the root cause of your symptoms: your BRAIN.

Neurofeedback is a treatment that allows you to train brainwaves to improve and enhance their functioning. The brain receives feedback to produce changes in brain patterns that are associated with positive outcomes in physical, emotional and cognitive skills. This treatment does not require surgery or medicine and is not painful. Feedback usually consists of watching images on a screen, which could be a game or a movie.

If you wish to know more about neurofeedback and train your brain to a healthier state please visit: https://aspen-wellness.org/nft/ or call our office for questions (801) 224-1103

Photo credits to Marc Bourcier Photography

7 Ways to a Positive Perspective

We’ve all heard the adage, “Be positive!”

What is all this hype about positivity? Some people who haven’t jumped on the positivity bandwagon might argue that their cynical outlook on life is a more realistic way of seeing the world, while those who try to force themselves to be happy are just lying to themselves.

So which is right? Which perspective and outlook on life has the greatest benefit? Is it all a matter of preference?

The realist perspective is one that humans developed long ago. This view on life is the brain trying to self-preserve, avoid potential threats, and stay safe. In the past, these threats were life-threatening, but our world has dramatically evolved since the pre-historic era. This approach doesn’t yield as many benefits as it once did our prehistoric ancestors.

Photo by Lidya Nada

What’s so great about being positive?

A positive perspective is not an easy one. It can be especially hard when difficult situations and annoying occurrences arise.

While positive thinking is nothing more than the way you decide to view each situation, it can make your life a whole lot easier. Being positive won’t change your situation, but it will help you get through the tough times.

Why is this? Have you ever had a day where you woke up on the wrong side of the bed and then got up to eat breakfast and knocked over, broke, or spilled something?

Or have you ever been angry and felt like the whole world was conspiring against you? This happens because the things you focus on become magnified.

When we have a negative focus, we tend to find all the things that are wrong with our life or the day. On the flip side, when we train our brains to find the positive things in life, we find them.

What can I do to be more positive?

The critics of positivity have it right when they say that it is difficult to will yourself positive. Positivity is like a muscle and when you work it out, aka practice positivity, it grows stronger.

If you’re looking to work on living a more positive life, here are some things you can try:

Photo by Freshh Connection

Be grateful

Brene Brown, a researcher on shame, vulnerability, and connection, found that the happiest people (or who she calls “wholehearted”) all have one thing in common; they all have a gratitude practice.

When you begin to train your brain to see the positive things in life, it is hard not to be happier.

Think about it this way- there are only so many things you can think about at once, so if you are focusing on what you’re grateful for, you won’t be thinking about the negative.

A gratitude practice could be many different things. Listed below are just a few.

  • Journaling daily about what you are grateful for
  • Having a grateful practice with someone else where you both share what you’re grateful for each day
  • Incorporate gratitude into your daily meditation or prayers
Photo by Bruce Mars

Listen to positive music

Finding upbeat or calming music can be a great way to change your mood. Look for music with lyrics that will empower you and help you notice the good things in the world. Try to avoid music that will bring you down.

Look for the Lesson

No matter how positive you may be, there will be instances where times get hard. In these instances, it can be helpful to look for the lesson to be learned or to see what you may not have understood before.

While you may not be happy-go-lucky all the time, positivity can make the hard times a little more bearable and help you manage the rough waters.

Photo by Mark Adriane

Be nice to yourself

For most people, they are their worst critic. Positivity begins from within. If you find that you often have negative self-talk or negative beliefs about yourself, you may want to work on these thoughts/beliefs.

Some things that may help negative beliefs or self-talk include the following.

  • Become conscious of your negative self-talk. This will give you insight as to the circumstances that trigger these thoughts. It will also help give you some insight into what beliefs you may hold about yourself.
  • See a counselor or therapist to learn skills to process your beliefs. Therapists are a great resource for gaining insight as to when and why negative beliefs formed and how to overcome them.
  • Change the way you talk to yourself. If you often say “I am….” statements, try to change this instead to a statement about the action itself and not you as a person.

E.g. “I am a mistake,” versus, “I made a mistake.”

  • Replace negative statements with more encouraging statements

E.g. “I’m so fat!” versus, “I may not be where I would like to be, but I’m

working towards it. “

Smile

A smile is a win-win for everyone. A simple smile from you can transform someone else’s day, but it also has positive effects for you.

Did you know there’s research showing that smiling (a real smile that includes “smiling with your eyes”) can actually make you happier?

When one smiles, the body releases a happy hormone into the bloodstream. So beware, if you smile, you’re bound to be happier than you were before. Try it!

Act

Take control of your life! There are things that aren’t in our control, such as the weather, other people’s actions, etcetera; however, there are many things that are in our control.

If you find yourself becoming annoyed, bothered, angry, sad, or any other reactionary emotion, take a moment to reflect on what part of the situation is in your control. Once you figure that out, take action and change what you can, and accept what you can’t.

Photo by Alex Alvarez

Assume the best

This one might be the hardest to implement, but it is especially helpful in those situations we can’t control that involve other people. When you are reacting negatively to the actions of other people, tell yourself this phrase, “They are doing the best they can” (Brene Brown, Rising Strong).

When we assume that others have good intentions and that they are doing the best they can with the tools they have, we then respond with more compassion, patience, understanding, empathy and are emotionally in a better place to know how to correctly handle the situation(Brene Brown, Rising Strong).

LEARN MORE ABOUT DEPRESSION

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”
― Laurell K. Hamilton, Mistral’s Kiss

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

Mental illness affects tens of millions of people in the United States. Depression is by far the most prevalent, representing 99% of all mind-brain illness. (Schizophrenia and major psychotic illness represent the remaining 1%). 

The umbrella of depression encompasses Major Depressive Disorder and its related mood disorders including bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, anxiety disorder, and suicide.

Depression is a common, but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities; such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.

If you experience these symptoms consistently for most of the day or nearly every day for 2 weeks you might be suffering from depression:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Moving or talking more slowly
  • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment

Depression doesn’t look or feel the same for everyone. Different individuals might be affected by all symptoms or just a few, with varying degrees of intensity.

This also means different individuals will benefit from different treatments or mental health approaches and diagnosis. It is important to note mental health is greatly influenced by physical health and some symptoms might be caused by a physical condition. Please talk to a doctor as well as a mental health professional.

Depression is a condition that can bring many questions. The journey towards emotional health can seem scary, confusing, or daunting at times because it requires us to acknowledge something is not right. In order to be able to overcome our struggles, first, we must be aware of them and, second, decide what actions can we take to improve what is not working or hurting us.

When working towards building healthy coping methods and making healthy changes in our lives, it is always important to focus on things that are within our control by making realistic goals.

Focusing on factors we can control in our lives helps us feel empowered and take charge. Controllable factors include what we say and do, our perspective on different situations, how we handle and act in relationships, our self-awareness, our eating, sleeping, and exercise, etc.

Identifying factors that we can control helps set realistic goals we can reach, increase introspection, encourage healthy behaviors and boost self-esteem.

DEPRESSION MYTHS DEBUNKED

  1. DEPRESSION IS ALL IN YOUR HEAD

Depression is a psychological, social, and biological disorder. It can be chronic and takes treatment to manage. Someone who is depressed can’t just shut it off or “suck it up.”

The general public only sees the emotional side of depression-like acting out or not acting like yourself. If we took the time to realize that depression is a condition that causes physical issues as well, maybe we would see that depression is a real disease that takes time and treatment to manage.

2. MEDICATION IS THE ONLY WAY TO HANDLE DEPRESSION

Medication is only one way of treatment. There are other treatments that might not require medication or will work together with it. Therapy techniques including CBT, EMDR, DBT and Art therapy can help depression. Neurofeedback targets specific brainwaves training that can help enhance brain functioning and help depression by boosting positive thinking and self-awareness.

3. EVERYONE EXPERIENCES DEPRESSION THE SAME WAY

People who experience depression may have physical differences in their brains than the average person. These differences don’t always act the same way in everyone’s brain. The changes in the brain, plus hormone changes, can influence the severity of moods, thoughts, and physical issues.

4. DEPRESSION IS A SIGN OF WEAKNESS

Depression does not discriminate. You do not decide to become depressed. The only reason depression is viewed as a weakness is that society has stigmatized the condition. Depression is a biological and psychological condition that has nothing to do with how strong you are.

5. DEPRESSION COMMONLY HAPPENS TO WOMEN

t’s not that there isn’t any depression in men, it’s just that men don’t talk about it as often as women. In the U.S., four times as many men die by suicide than women. Some men believe that talking about their emotions is silly or pathetic. Some men avoid treatments for depression in fear that they will no longer appear masculine or strong.  Some symptoms of depression in men, additional to the ones mentioned above, include anger, unable to meet daily responsibilities, loss of interest in sex.

“The strongest people are those who win battles we know nothing about.”

– Unknown

“Don’t let your struggle become your identity.”

– Unknown

Source: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

Attachment styles

What is an attachment style? An attachment style is how each person behaves and interacts in their relationships. At a young age, we tried to figure out how to fit into our social circles. Based on how our parents or caregivers treated us, we figured out how to interact with people and develop our own attachment style.

Your personal attachment style that you learned from childhood follows you throughout your life. It is how you interact and behave with your family members, romantic partners, and kids.

Understanding what attachment style you have will help you understand your relationship difficulties and give you an insight as to what to work on. The healthiest relationships are built when both individuals feel a secure attachment to one another.

Attachment styles

Secure attachment

If you have a secure attachment style, you’ll seek out stable relationships and feel safe opening up emotionally. You’ll also feel comfortable asking for what you need. Secure adults will be able to reach out to their romantic partner in times of need but also attend to the needs of their partner.

Anxious attachment

If you have an anxious attachment style, you’ll desire closeness but may not feel as though you are ever able to get close enough. You’ll end up questioning yourself a lot, wondering if your romantic partner really loves you, and you’ll regularly seek out validation. If you have an anxious attachment, you might end up seeming clingy and do things that push your partner away.

Dismissive attachment

If you have a dismissive attachment style, you tend to distance yourself from people. When confronted with conflict, you’ll emotionally shut down and choose not to show your emotions. If you have a dismissive attachment, you may feel isolated from yourself and others.

Fearful-avoidant attachment

If you have a fearful-avoidant attachment, you may have grown up in a home where you detached from your feelings because of trauma. While you will desire connections with others, once the relationships become emotionally involved, your past trauma may affect how you see the relationship. If you have a fearful-avoidant attachment, you may have very rocky relationships and fear being abandoned – but also fear being close to others.

How do I develop a secure attachment style?

Now don’t get too discouraged if you’re not happy with your personal attachment style. The good news is that you can develop a secure attachment style.

  • Start taking note of when your behaviors are anxious, dismissive, or avoidant
  • Think about how you feel and what you need
  • Try to express your feelings and needs to someone close to you
  • Set healthy boundaries with those you have relationships
  • Model your behavior off someone with a secure attachment style
  • Work with a therapist to help you change your attachment style

Understanding SHAME.

“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” -Brene Brown

What is shame?

According to Google shame is, “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. According to Brene Brown, a research professor at the University Of Houston Graduate College Of Social Work,

Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.  Women often experience shame when they are entangled in a web of layered, conflicting and competing social-community expectations.”

She went on to say on Oprah Winfrey’s Supersoul Conversations, “I think shame is lethal. I think shame is deadly. And I think we are swimming in it deep.”

Brown explains that feelings of shame can quietly marinate over a lifetime. “Here’s the bottom line with shame,” she says. “The less you talk about it, the more you got it. Shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgment.”

By keeping quiet, Brown says your shame will grow exponentially. “It will creep into every corner and crevice of your life,” she says.

The antidote, Brown says, is empathy. She explains that by talking about your shame with a friend who expresses empathy, the painful feeling cannot survive. “Shame depends on me buying into the belief that I’m alone. Shame cannot survive being spoken. It cannot survive empathy.”

“You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”

Brene Brown

Brene has many books and videos one can watch to learn how to beat this pervasive monster. Brene shows us how we can stop a shame spiral with these tips:

  1. Know your shame triggers and reality check them
  2. Talk to yourself like you talk to someone you love
  3. Reach out to someone you trust
  4. Tell your story

You can find some very helpful tips on shame and how to conquer and coexist with it here:


THRIVE AS A FAMILY

January is the month we celebrate families of all kinds. This is a day to celebrate peace and sharing.

Families can come in many forms
Photo by Daniel Cheung on Unsplash

Often when we think of families the picture of two parents and their children come to mind. However, our understanding of the meaning of family has expanded through different generations and encompasses a wide variety of families.

Each family can be be different varying in gender, culture, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, dynamics and structure.

We can see “traditional families” consisting of a mom, a dad, and kids. Families are formed by LGBT couples and kids, married couples without kids, cohabitating partners, family units including extended family such as grandparents, uncles, aunts, nices, nephews, etc.

Although families are usually related by blood or marriage, this doesn’t have to be the case for every family. A family unit can be created by any group of individuals that love, protect, teach, and help each other. The main purpose of a family is the well-being of its members and society.

It is important to keep in mind any relationship takes work and patience. Every family will experience happy moments and rocky situations where disagreements or misunderstandings happen.

The value of family is to know how to love each other in spite of our differences. Maintaining healthy family relationships can be vital to healthy and positive mental health. Healthy communication skills are key to create a loving and safe environment for everyone at home.

When communicating with others, it is important to be conscious about what we really think/feel, how we express those thoughts/emotions, and how this can be perceived by the other person. Some helpful skills include,

  • Active listening: Sincerely try to understand what the person is saying instead of using this time to think about what to say next. Don’t let a conversation or discussion turn into a competition
  • Stay focused: Work in solving CURRENT issues. Trying to bring up past hurts or other topics can confuse everyone involved without a resolution. Keep your feelings and solutions in the present and what can you all do now.
  • Use “I” statements: These statements help you express what you need, think, and feel. And allow you to take responsibility for the issue at hand. “You” statements can sound accusatory and make others fell attacked or become defensive. Statements such as: “I feel…”, “I need…”, “I did…”
  • Look for compromise: Compromising takes work for both parties where both aim to look for a solution and are willing to give up something and gain something positive. A compromise should always be a two-way street and not a single person’s effort.
  • Take a time-out: When a discussion gets too heated, our feelings can get the best of us. It is best to cool off and come back to the discussion with a calm attitude to reach a solution. This time out must not be used to avoid discussions and never return to them. It is best when we can solve problems instead of leaving them unresolved.
  • Ask for help: If communication is too hard and it often ends in no resolution and hurt, you might need an objective third party that can help. Couples counseling or family therapy can provide help with altercations and teach skills to resolve future conflict. If your partner doesn’t want to go, you can still often benefit from going alone.
  • Source: https://www.verywellmind.com/managing-conflict-in-relationships-communication-tips-3144967

Family relationships can be a great protective factor. Protective factors are conditions and attributes that help individuals cope with stressful events and mitigate mental health risks. Individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, personality disorders, etc can benefit from a healthy family environment including strong emotional support, increased self-esteem, positive thinking, goal making, reduced risk for suicide, strong social connections, accepting and forgiving, role models, parenting skills, etc.

Treasure your family and work to better your relationship with each member. Every healthy family takes effort and love from every member. Although families can be difficult sometimes, they can be a group of people that will always have your back and accompany you through life in your best and worst moments.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Kicking Off the New Year

As December quickly comes to a close, we begin to turn our thoughts and attention to the new year and what it may bring. 40% of us will set New Year’s Resolutions to tackle during the coming year.

If you have ever made a New Year’s Resolution, you know how hard they can be to stick to. Ashira Prossack, a writer for Forbes Women, wrote,


“Studies have shown that less than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them.”

If so many of us set New Year’s Resolutions, why do so many of us fail to accomplish them? The answer is that most of us set vague ideas of what we want to change instead of specific, actionable goals.

How to Create Goals that Last

SMART is an acronym many people use to help them set up their goals. SMART stands for:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

Let’s break them down even further.

Specific

A specific goal is one that you can imagine perfectly in your mind. You can start getting specific on your goal by asking yourself the five W’s:

Once you’ve narrowed it down with those five W questions, you can then ask yourself:

  • What does my goal look like?
  • What does accomplishing my goal taste like?
  • What does it smell like?
  • How does it feel to have accomplished my goal?

You want to be able to imagine all aspects of the goal and try to include the five senses. Make your goal as real as possible — even down to the tiny details. Allow yourself to mentally live in that desired future as if you have already achieved it.

Measurable

A goal is measurable when it can be quantified or given some type of number. You may ask yourself:

Having a goal that is measurable is very important because it allows you to track your progress and know if you need to make any adjustments or changes to your goal.

A couple of examples would include if you want to lose weight you would need to know exactly how much weight you would like to lose. If your goal is to make more money next year, what dollar amount more would you like to make? If you would like to better your relationship with a sibling, how many times a year, month, week, etc will you contact them, phone them, visit them?

If you can’t put a number to your goal, it is not measurable. You might have to get creative to identify measurable goals.

AchIEvable

An achievable goal is one that may take some stretching to accomplish but is still reasonable, realistic, and attainable. To see if a goal is achievable you may ask yourself:

  • What might prevent me from accomplishing this goal?
  • Is my goal something I have control over?
  • What additional resources do I need to accomplish this goal?
  • Do I need any outside help, additional training, etc to accomplish my goal?

Relevant

A relevant goal is one that has meaning to you. It is to ensure that you have the motivation and desire to really accomplish the goal. Consider these questions to see if your goals are relevant to you.

  • Why is this goal important to me?
  • Is it in line with my other goals?
  • Is this goal worthwhile?

Time-Bound

A time-bound goal is having a specific date(s) that you look toward to accomplish your goal. This helps you stay focused and lasered in on your goal. If you can break your goal down into even smaller timelines it will help you stay on track even more.

  • What is my end date for this goal?
  • What do I want to have accomplished six months from now?
  • What do I want to have accomplished three months from now?
  • What do I want to have accomplished this month?
  • What do I want to have accomplished this week?
  • What do I need to do today?

Additional tips

As humans, we take the path of least resistance. Make the follow-through action of your goal as easy as possible.

If you want to start playing the guitar for the new year, keep the guitar out in the open instead of in the closet. If it’s in front of you, you are more likely to play it.

If your goal is to hit the gym three times a week, know exactly which days and times you are going to go to the gym. Are you going to go right after work? If you were to try to go home, change, maybe watch some TV while you eat a snack and then try to get to the gym there is a greater chance of you not going. Try instead to take your gym clothes with you to work so you can head to the gym straight from work.

The less activation energy required for an action, the more likely you will be to follow through.