5 Ways to Stay Motivated This Summer

We know that the social & political climate we are living in can have damaging effects on our ability to maintain a positive mindset and stay motivated. Still, it turns out that the physical climate can have a negative impact too.

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5 Myths about Mental Health & Therapy

In this article, Dr. Mason breaks down 5 common myths about mental health and therapy. Myths that reinforce the stigma around mental health make it more difficult for individuals to seek treatment and invest in their mental well-being. Let’s destigmatize mental wellness together!

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The Most Common Mental Health Disorders

October is Health Literacy Month, and at The Mind Spa, we are humbled by the role we play in our community to help embrace the importance of maintaining good mental health and wellness.

1 in 5 adults (or 20%) suffer from mental illness. That means that mental illness is a lot more common or “normal” than people realize. Let’s reduce the stigma by learning about the three most common mental health conditions today:

1. Anxiety Disorder

A mental health disorder characterized by worry, anxiety, or fear that is intense enough to interfere with one’s daily activities

Common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Restlessness/nervousness
  • Feelings of dread
  • Panic attack episodes
  • Body disruptions (sleep, bowel movements, etc.)

When it comes to some of these symptoms, many of us may have experienced them at some point in our lives, whether we were in a high-stress situation or environment. However, for those who suffer from an anxiety disorder or GAD (General Anxiety Disorder), multiple symptoms can linger at once for a prolonged period – without an identifiable trigger.

Treatment

When looking for treatment, always seek the guidance of a medical professional first. They will be able to do a thorough examination and prescribe a tailored solution. Treatment for anxiety disorder may include medication such as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) and therapies such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and MBCT (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy). Alternative therapies may also include hypnosis and more.

Resource: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/get-involved/education-awareness/shareable-resources-on-anxiety-disorders

2. Major Depressive Disorder

A mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.

Common symptoms of depression include:

  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
  • Long term fatigue and changes in energy
  • Feelings of emptiness, loss of self-esteem
  • Thoughts of suicide or wishing to die

These symptoms may or may not originate from a traumatic event in a person’s life, and sometimes, they may not appear to have any cause at all. Regardless, it is important to reach out to a medical professional if these symptoms are persistent.

Treatment

When looking for treatment, always seek the guidance of a medical professional first. They will be able to do a thorough examination and prescribe a tailored solution. Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder may include antidepressants and other psychotropic medications. Complementary therapies such as psychotherapy may also be recommended. Emerging treatments also include alternative therapies such as DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) and more.

Resource: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/get-involved/education-awareness/shareable-resources-on-depression

3. Bipolar Disorder

A disorder associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs.

Common symptoms of bipolar disorder include
  • Extreme shifts and swings in mood and behavior
  • Increased irritability or short fuse and temperament
  • Reckless activities that put the individual (and sometimes others) in harmful situations
  • Reduced need for sleep in manic stage and low energy in depressive stages

When it comes to these symptoms, these can originate from environmental and genetic factors. It is important to reach out to a medical professional if these symptoms are persistent.

Treatment

When looking for treatment, always seek the guidance of a medical professional first. They will be able to do a thorough examination and prescribe a tailored solution. Treatment for bipolar disorder may include mood-stabilizing medications such as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), antipsychotics, and anticonvulsants. Complementary treatment options such as psychotherapy are also recommended.

Resource: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/get-involved/education-awareness/shareable-resources-on-bipolar-disorder

Additional resources: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics https://www.achn.net/about-access/whats-new/health-resources/3-most-common-mental-health-disorders-in-america/

A Guide for Managing Pandemic Discomfort

If you have had difficulty managing emotional discomfort over the past 18 months, know you are not alone.

In the United States, we have seen an unimaginable spike in mental illness over the past year. It is reported that 40% of adults have experienced an increase in anxiety and depressive symptoms – compared to just 10% of individuals reported in 2019 by the CDC Household Pulse Survey.

What can be done?

Here at the Mind Spa, we understand the many challenges individuals face living under the uncertainties of a global pandemic. If you have found yourself struggling to manage your mental well-being during this time, feel free to read our 3 – step mindfulness approach below for managing feelings of discomfort during this crucial time.

A 3-Step Mindfulness Approach

1. Acknowledgment

It is not uncommon to feel frustration, despair, sadness, or hopelessness during this time.

Many of us have had our livelihoods, social activities, work settings, and time with family stripped away from us. Some of us have lost loved ones to the virus itself, while others have lost others to conflict about the best ways to manage the virus (e.g., masks vs. no mask, vaccine vs. no vaccine, etc.).

Almost all of us are struggling to establish or re-establish balance in our lives, whether it be working at home while homeschooling or keeping our households safe. At the same time, our unvaccinated children attend school in the spirit of maintaining a healthy level of socialization and education for them.  

To begin the process of healing, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How has my life changed with the global pandemic?
  • How do I feel about these changes?

During this time, it is beneficial to acknowledge these life-changing events to know exactly how to address these related feelings and manage them for a better future.

2. Acceptance

If you have carried feelings of guilt or shame for being unable to perform as you may have wanted to over the past 18 months, know that you are not alone.

Many individuals have reported feelings of guilt and shame during this time; much of it is related to work productivity, career advancement, financial stability, family well-being, socialization, and more.

During this time, it may be beneficial to sit with any pandemic-related feelings you may be experiencing, judgment-free.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What feelings am I currently experiencing?
  • How do I want to feel in the future, given that some changes are made?

Accepting these feelings without attaching labels or shame to them can bring a much-needed form of self-care into the picture.

Too often, we are quick to judge and blame ourselves for unforeseen circumstances that occur in life. However, it is important to remember that you are experiencing these feelings, but they do not define who you are, and with the proper support, it is possible to move past them.

3. Action

If you have been unable to take actionable steps to support your mental health during this time, do not worry. Too often, when larger-than-life situations occur, we as human beings become paralyzed as to what steps to take next.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I doing now to take care of myself right now?
  • What are mental health resources currently available to me?
  • What steps can I take to help me move towards feelings of empowerment and progress?

Thankfully, we have the resource of mental health professionals who can help us create a safe space to acknowledge, accept and act for our well-being.

Sources:

https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/covid19/pulse/mental-health.html

Breaking the Mental Health Stigma

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, The Mind Spa is committed to doing our part in raising awareness and providing resources and support for those in our community who want to help break the stigma.

Did you know?

Most families in America are affected by mental illness.

In 2019, it was estimated that 18% of American adults suffered from mental illness – that’s about 43 million people! Additionally, 1 in 5 teens suffered from a mental health disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

While these numbers are staggering, recent reports suggest that the pandemic has increased these numbers significantly.

Here at The Mind Spa, we understand that social and cultural stigmas have unfortunately prevented those who are struggling with mental health from seeking help.

60% of adults and 50% of youth with mental illness have been unable to benefit from mental health services within the past year. But it’s never too late…

Join us in:

  • Removing the stigma around mental health care
  • Helping more Americans get access to mental health care

Why the stigma?

It’s important to note that mental health is a complex and challenging subject.

Throughout history, there have been many debates on how to approach mental health issues and how to provide treatment.

In many cultures, mental illness was viewed as a form of religious punishment or demonic possession. We see this subject reflected in ancient Egyptian, Indian, Greek, and Roman writings, where mental illness was categorized as a religious or personal problem.

Unfortunately, without modern technology and information, we have today, those who were mentally ill in those societies were believed to be possessed or in need of religion. Unfortunately, these negative perceptions towards mental illness persisted into the 18th century in the United States, leading to the stigmatization of mental illness and unhygienic (and often degrading) confinement of mentally ill individuals.

In the United States, prior to the introduction of modern medicine, institutionalization was prevalent. And, state hospitals were often underfunded and understaffed, drawing harsh criticism and reports of poor living conditions and human rights violations.

What can we do to help minimize the stigma around mental health?

  • Be Encouraged to Seek Treatment
    • If you or a loved one are suffering from mental health issues, know that you are not alone and that it is okay to seek help. While it may be a difficult decision, undergoing treatment can help you identify underlying issues and find new ways to help manage your personal and work life.
  • Remember that you are not an “illness”
    • Instead of saying that “I am ADHD”, say “I have ADHD”, or instead of “I am Schizophrenic”, say “I have Schizophrenia”.
  • Be Understanding and Conscious
    • Don’t use words like “Crazy”, “Maniac” or “Psycho” to describe yourself or others. When it comes to breaking the mental health stigma, it is all about empathy and the encouragement of seeking professional help.
  • Talk openly about mental health
    • If you have experienced mental health challenges, or are currently experiencing challenges, share these experiences with your peers! This will often help others feel more comfortable and create positive conversations.
  • Share your experience with treatment
    • Oftentimes, just sharing your positive experience with treatment can help others feel more encouraged and less isolated. Feel free to let others know that you have been to therapy and what benefits you’ve received from seeking help.

While overcoming the stigma surrounding mental health is not easy, we are committed to helping our community seek the care they need. If you or a loved one is suffering, please reach out to a mental health professional, or if urgent, call the Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255 which is available 24/7.

Shifting into the Spring Mindset

As we settle into the Spring season, we often engage in “spring cleaning” and the spirit of “renewal.” This is a time where we declutter our homes and rid ourselves of excess baggage. Nature around us takes a similar effect with the warming of temperatures and the birth of new life.

Take the concept of Spring cleaning your home into your mind and body!

At The Mind Spa, we are taking Spring Cleaning a step further. Studies have shown that individuals who take the time to clean and organize their physical spaces are also more inclined to take charge of their general health. 

“When your room is clean and uncluttered, you have no choice but to examine your inner state.”

Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

How can I get started?

Start Small

Not ready to clean out the entire garage? Even small activities like cleaning off your desk can provide stress relief. Pick a few small tasks to begin with and go from there. As you get started, you can start to check items off your list and build the momentum you need to tackle the rest!

Engage with Mindful Activities (i.e., Walking and/or Eating)

One helpful way to refresh your mind is through practicing simple mindful activities. This could look like taking a brisk walk without your cell phone or giving yourself space to have a meal with no distractions.

As you connect to the present moment, take this time to become more aware of how our daily activities affect our mental and physical health.

Remember to Breathe

Whether you’re dusting off the cobwebs from your bookshelf or letting go of past tensions, don’t forget to breathe! Breathing can clear your mind and allow you to focus. Often, taking 1 minute to breathe slowly can give you the boost you need to tackle your next activity.

Add something new to your routine

When it comes to mental spring cleaning, incorporating new activities into your life is necessary! Whether it is taking a bath, taking the time to read a book before bed, or eating a meal with family or friends, incorporating new activities throughout your week can free up your mind while adding excitement to your daily life.

Message from Dr. Mason

“As we look forward to Spring, don’t forget to take account of all the hard work you do each day. Even when you are working hard and getting a lot done, it’s important to remember to pause and give yourself the space to appreciate your growth.

5 Tips to Help You Incorporate Mindfulness into Your Life

You may have heard about the practice of mindfulness. Research-based evidence shows that adopting a lifelong mindfulness practice can decrease stress, improve your immune system and overall well-being. Over time, this practice also has beneficial psychological effects, as patients describe feeling an improved sense of connection to themselves and the world around them.

When it comes to mindfulness (a practice that can bring so many great benefits), it is important to remember that it is not a quick fix!

     Mindfulness is a lifelong practice that takes patience and determination. When you do become mindful of your everyday activities, the experience can be gratifying.

So, if you ask yourself, “How can I be more mindful?” here are 5 easy tips that you can use starting today to help you incorporate mindfulness into your life. 

1. Practice mindfulness when you are feeling good

Don’t wait until you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Often, people wait until a moment of crisis to meditate, reflect, or “be in the moment,” but these can be the most challenging times to find the focus you need!  

2. Start with Baby Steps

Pick one or 2 activities to begin your mindfulness journey. For example, you can start your day with a five-minute breathing exercise or perhaps give your full attention to 1 action a day. This activity might be a meal or taking your child to school. The important thing is to give yourself a chance to be in the moment.

3. Remember that mindfulness is not easy

Treat mindfulness like learning a new skill. Give yourself the time to practice and the patience to learn how mindfulness fits into your life. With constant access to information via our smartphones, it is easy to be distracted! So, if you find yourself becoming distracted easily, be patient with yourself and practice refocusing your energy.  

4. Mindfulness is a long-term strategy

One of the goals of practicing mindfulness is to learn how to listen to your thoughts. And sometimes you won’t love what you hear! As you start or continue your journey of becoming more mindful, remember that it is a long-term goal. As you become more in tune with your thoughts, you can practice new ways to deal with them before letting them build up and come out at less-than-ideal-moments.

5. Work with a licensed psychologist 

Becoming your best self and working through your issues is hard work. Do not be afraid to ask for help. A licensed psychologist can help you understand different ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life in a healthy manner. A psychologist can also recommend specific activities for you to help you on your path to mindfulness. 

Achieving Your 2021 Resolutions

Often when it comes to new year’s resolutions, many of us fail to achieve our resolutions. It is not because we do not want to achieve them but because we have been unable to establish measurable goals.

Broad goal setting can often look like “I want to get into shape” or “I want to learn something new this year. Unfortunately, this type of goal setting does not address the specific ways you can get there. 

Instead, measurable goal setting is the act of establishing attainable goals with a plan in mind.

In this article, Dr. Mason highlights 3 steps that you can take to make your new year’s resolutions both measurable and attainable.

Step 1: Establish Small, Specific & Measurable Goals

The lesser-known but most straightforward way to achieve your goals is to establish specific, bite-sized steps to get there.

If your goal is to get into shape this year (for example), identify what this would look like in action:

Does this look like shedding a specific number of pounds? Being able to surpass the number of push-ups you can currently do? Or to feel less tired and gain more energy?

Once you have identified your measurable goal, follow through by creating small, manageable steps to help you get there. Actionable steps can look like adhering to a workout regimen X days per week, working with a nutritionist to establish a meal plan, or committing to a wellness routine.

Most importantly, make sure your goal is reasonable (i.e., Don’t set a starting goal of 100 push-ups/day when you have never done more than 10 in a month.).

Step 2: Establish a Timeline

Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel serves as a huge point of inspiration for any journey, and when it comes to achieving your new year’s resolutions, this does not have to look rigid.

Start by identifying a timeline for when you would like to achieve your goal and document it, then break that goal down into daily objectives and follow through one day at a time.

Pro Tip: Try to limit your objectives to no more than 3 at a time to ensure that it is actionable and doable for your lifestyle.

Step 3: Incentivize Yourself

Are you rewarding your good behavior? Implementing a new behavior is always a challenge, so feel free to use the power of incentives. This could look like allowing yourself an extra 20 minutes of self-care or purchasing a new dress or suit upon reaching your fitness goals.

Pro Tip: The key is to do so in moderation and not indulge in behaviors that would distract you from your goals.

That stated, one of the simplest ways to fall short of your resolutions is to get too comfortable rewarding yourself. Incentivizing yourself is always encouraging; however, steer clear of rewarding yourself when you do not meet your daily objectives. This can look like refraining from consuming an indulgent dessert (for example) if your goal is weight-loss related and refraining from purchasing an expensive gadget if your goal is finance related.

Quote from Dr. Mason:

“Frequently, my patients struggle with finding motivation in keeping their new year’s goals, but I always remind them, it is important to remember to strive for intermediate progress, not perfection. Over time all these daily practices will add up, and before you know it, you will have achieved your goal!”

– Dr. Lauren Mason