One of the best things about winter’s early arrival is the urge to whip up some delicious, soul-warming soup! This carrot, ginger and coconut soup pairs perfectly with slice of honey baked ham or baguette, but can also stand alone as a light meal in itself.
Did you ever see a person in the car next to you on the road and wonder where they are headed? What is their life like? What are their joys and sufferings? There are a lot of people out there who could benefit from a kind word or deed. The concept of “random acts of kindness” is not new. The quote “Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” originated in 1982 when Anne Herbert wrote it on a placemat in a California restaurant. But the act of being kind to others has been present in every culture since the beginning of recorded history. Even the smallest good deed can make someone’s day and restore their faith in mankind when they have suffered disappointments and failures from others.
What can I do? I’m just one person, you may say. There are dozens of opportunities to bring out a smile in even the most depressed person. You may find that brightening someone’s day actually brightens your own as well; lifting symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other commonly suffered mood disorders. Berkeley University published results of several studies showing that kindness can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, increase life expectancy and increase endorphin production, all of which improve our physical and emotional health.
Try these small acts of kindness for a start:
Even just a smile goes a long way!
Ever have one of those days where you feel kind of “blah”? If someone asks, “what’s wrong?” you really have no answer. You might even feel yourself on the verge of tears. WHY?
Depression? Hormones? Stress? Whatever the reason it can take a toll on you physically, emotionally and mentally. What do you do? Well, what works for me might not work for you. Some find that taking time to do some breathing exercises works, while some may take a quiet walk. Others find that a rigorous workout works best, and you may find that treating yourself to an ice cream cone or writing your feelings in a journal gives you relief.
Reciting positive and inspiring verses works for me. I will say as many as I possibly can over and over, whether I remember only three or can quickly recite ten. I have done them out loud or in my head. They may relate to my situation at hand or just provide a general uplifting spirit. No matter, it just helps to stay focused and for me to keep looking up. And to keep telling myself everything is going to be okay.
And remember, “Happiness is not a goal…it’s a by-product of a life well lived.”
We know that having close friends and family that support us and make us laugh is an important part of maintaining good emotional and mental wellness. However, these relationships are often challenging for many women with mental health and substance abuse issues as they tend to isolate themselves, avoid loved ones and neglect close friendships. Because of this risk factor, mental health facilities often spend a lot of time exploring the negative effects of withdrawing while encouraging women to make time to see those that are important to them nurturing their social wellness.
But is alone time ever a good thing? Absolutely. Spending time alone is actually an essential part of self-care, and in fact an issue that many women struggle with. Loneliness and solitude are not the same thing, yet they often become intertwined and lead many women to fear time spent alone with their own thoughts and feelings. Some women just simply don’t have time to be alone. Between working all day and sharing a house with family or friends, finding a moment to be by themselves can be nearly impossible.
Solitude is often omitted from our busy lives. The minimal time between the demands of outside obligations and the pull of social responsibilities is usually brushed to the side and neglected. Yet, this small amount of “me” time can help balance our entire wellness, and may actually help avoid the development of depression and anxiety.
Consistently feeling the pressure to engage with others can be mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting. Being alone for a few moments without distractions gives our mind and body a chance to unwind and focus more clearly. With less distractions we are often more productive when we are alone, as we are better able to concentrate and think deeply both about work and our own thoughts.
Taking time away from the crowd isn’t just rejuvenating to our relationship with our self, but our relationships with others too. Constantly being around anyone, even those we love the most, can trigger irritability, frustration and emotional distress. Alone time is critical to gaining a better understanding of our own needs and desires, helping us make better decisions on whom we spend time with, and what we do with that time.
In a world that focuses so much on staying connected through Facebook, Instagram, text messaging and a million other ways, finding “me” time and learning how to enjoy this solitude is a vital step in self-actualization. It gives us a time to reflect, explore and embrace our own identity, and will ultimately help us to better love our self.
This record-breaking November weather can wreak havoc on our skin. As it loses dewy moisture and our summer glow fades our skin starts looking dry and lackluster.
When the temperature drops, the air turns cold and the winds become harsh, giving our skin a little extra TLC can go a long way to boosting our complexion and our mood. Take some time this month between the busy shopping days and family gatherings to nurture your own physical, emotional and mental health.
Here are five easy and natural tips for glowing skin to include in your own skin and self-care routine:
You are grinding away at work. Deadlines are approaching quickly. Emails are pouring in like a rushing river. The tasks you had planned to accomplish in the beginning of the day will have to wait until tomorrow. That cloud of depression and under-achievement rolls in to your mind and you are feeling overwhelmed.
What is a person to do? Take a walk.
It cannot be denied that when workers push away from their desks and computers and take a short jaunt, they return to their desks more productive and with more energy. Their creativity soars. They tend to communicate more clearly and effectively. Plus, they are more focused on the team rather than themselves. The problems that seemed irresolvable now has a fresh set of eyes and all of a sudden, the answers are right before their eyes.
Have you ever had a really tough time communicating with a co-worker? No matter what is said, you just simply don’t see eye-to-eye. You say it is black, she insists it is white, but you are both handed a project that requires you to work together. How do you tackle the communication barrier so that you can move on to tackling the technical aspect of the project? Solution – take a walk together.
When you walk side-by-side and talk side-by-side, the sense of aggression dissipates. Suddenly, neither person is viewed as superior and the focus is shifted to the message rather than the messenger. An old trick that sales people utilize to negotiate a tough contract is to sit on the same side of the desk as the client. The physical barrier of the desk is taken away and the client suddenly feels that the sales person is literally on “his side”, and hence, is more agreeable to the terms of the contract.
The second benefit of taking a walk with your co-worker is to get the creative juices flowing. As your heart rate increases ever so slightly, and your adrenaline rises, and your eyes are taken off the computer or paper on the desk, the mind is free to process information along new pathways. Why do you think companies hold team-building exercises away from the workplace? The eyes and ears have to focus on an environment different than the norm in order to render different results.
So whether you walk the parking lot, climb the stairwells, lap the office, or visit the closest park, push away from your desk as if you were pushing away from that Thanksgiving meal. Grab a coat, breathe deeply and get outside for a refreshing walk. You will be less depressed, more creative, and improve your physical and mental health.
This tasty timbale stack recipe is exceedingly rich in nutrients that support our physical and mental health. A beautiful mix of creamy avocado, sweet squash and filling quinoa creates a delectable dish that the whole family is sure to enjoy.
Source: Beauty Detox Foods
Every person has their own personal language based on their individual experiences as they go through life. Often, people use the same words to communicate to one another. However, depending upon each person’s experiences and associations, those words may mean different things. For instance, the word “love” is used often and liberally to describe many things. To someone who has had positive experiences tied to what is expressed as “love” the word has a positive association to it. To someone who has had negative experiences associated with the word, they might associate things with “love” that they wish to avoid like depression or anxiety. Although, the word “love” maybe symbolic of romance to some people, it can also be used to simply express an appreciation for a favorite color or food. Just as each human being has their own personal verbal or conceptual language, every person also has their own visual language built on associations to colors, images and artwork. Each element that creates this visual language is symbolic and metaphorical in nature.
An archetype is a constantly reoccurring, very typical example of a certain person or thing that is symbolic in nature. A commonly applied symbol of “love” may be a heart. Every culture, depending on their own beliefs and associations, has their own symbols and archetypes as well. On a micro level, a culture can be as small as one found in a specific place of business or a family. On the macro level, a culture is representative of the citizens who make up a country or members of society on a universal level, too. Archetypes present themselves in stories such as mythology, in the movies, literature or even in our day-to-day lives in our own minds.
The psychologist Carl Jung theorized an understanding of archetypes as universal, archaic patterns and images that derive from the collective unconscious and are the psychic counterpart of instinct. To him, they are autonomous and hidden forms, which are transformed once they enter consciousness and are given particular expression by such individuals and their cultures. Many of his ideas for archetypes were based on Plato’s Forms, which were examples of types of people who are common to all humanity and the foundation on which each person builds his or her own experiences as they go through life. Some examples of such archetypes include archetypal events such as birth, death, separation from parents, initiation, marriage, the union of opposites; archetypal figures such as the mother, father, child, god, wise old man, wise old woman, the trickster, the hero; and archetypal motifs like the apocalypse or the creation.
Part of the Art Therapist’s role at residential treatment centers for mental health is to aid each client struggling with depression and anxiety in discovering and learning how to express his or herself through their own personal visual language. Just as every artist seen in a museum has their unique own style and meaning in their artwork, so does every person who walks through the doors of the Art Therapist office. It doesn’t matter if that client has never even held a pencil before. Each and every person is unique and capable of leaving their mark on the world in a way that has never occurred prior to that moment that they place the pencil onto a piece of paper or paint brush to canvas. That moment in art has never happened before and will never happen again in just the same way.
On the journey to self-discovery, it is vital part of introspection to explore one’s own beliefs, experiences and associations. In communication between people, in order to truly understand one another, it is important to understand where each other are coming from. An exercise that can be helpful in exploring these subjects would be to create a list of archetypes and symbols that feel relevant to one’s own life and then to create artwork around them. What does it mean to be a mother, father or a child? What does a hero look like? Paint, draw or collage an image that embodies those associations for each symbol and learn to understand the roots of that visual language as you review your creative projects. It might be surprising what is found on the other side of the journey. It may even be the path that leads one to feeling at home in his or her own skin.
Thank goodness it has been proven that pet ownership improves emotional health! Now I don’t feel the need to defend the number of animals I have in my home! While animals have long been used in mental health treatment and therapy to alleviate symptoms of depression and PTSD, pet ownership has also been found to improve our quality of life in a number of ways. There just might be an animal out there that is a good fit for you.
The American Psychological Association has published three separate studies that affirm that pet owners are substantially “happier, healthier, and better adjusted” than non-pet owners, and that dogs in particular can increase one’s sense of belonging, self-esteem, and meaningful existence. In 2008, Parents Magazine reported that pet ownership can foster responsibility, nurturing, increased physical activity, and common interests with other children that can help develop friendships. Pets also establish routine and can bring families closer together.
While a dog or a cat may be too much responsibility, there are other options. If you cannot commit to a pet permanently, there are often foster opportunities through local shelters. Read more about the emotional benefits of pet ownership, pros and cons, finding the right pet, and non-ownership alternatives at www.helpguide.org.
If you are considering a pet, below is a list of possibilities with a general care outlook.
Betta fish - By far the easiest and most cost effective pet that can be a beautiful, calming friend. All you need is a large vase, some glass pebbles, a plastic plant, some bottled water, and one bottle of food pellets that will easily last a year. Betta are solitary fish; choose a male for the most glamorous color and fin displays. The fish will greet you and literally show off its affection for you through the glass! Life expectancy: 1-3 years.
Leopard Gecko - Because they are nocturnal desert animals, these lizards have no special temperature, lighting or humidity requirements other than the normal environment of your home. They can spend their entire life in a 10-gallon aquarium. If you can handle purchasing crickets as food, “leos” can be amusing pets to watch and they love to placidly sit on your hand for the warmth. Life expectancy: 10-20 years!
Hamster - A ball of cuteness that is great for kids: You can create mazes and playgrounds for them for hours of fun! A weekly cleaning of the cage is necessary but care and cost are minimal with rare veterinary visits and a $2.50 box of food and $3.00 bag of bark shavings every two weeks. Life expectancy: 2-4 years.
Cat - Cats are hit or miss depending on personality but are independent and great pets to have if you aren’t home often. Choose one that is a friendly cuddler for the best companionship. The greatest chores are the litter box and annual vaccinations, but if you take in a rescue you can skip the damaging (racing through the house scratching) and expensive (initial vet visits) kitten stage and go straight for the love! Life expectancy: 10-20 years.
Dog - Dogs are by far the closest to human companionship. They often sense our feelings and respond with comfort and unconditional love. They require the most responsibility as they cannot be left alone for very long and they require the most human interaction. Food and vet costs are also higher, but the bond between a person and their dog is priceless. Research the best fit: Larger dogs require more exercise, Schnauzers are the most non-allergenic, small breeds travel the easiest but tend to bark more often, and so on…. There is a lot to consider with this commitment but a lot to gain from the relationship. Life expectancy: 10-20 years depending on the breed.
Literally, “Happy” Pet Hunting!
To the dismay of most of the country, winter has made an early appearance this year. With blankets of snow covering Minnesota and temperatures well below average right here in Tennessee, it may be disheartening to realize that we still have roughly a month before the calendar even marks winter’s arrival.
For some, this extended period of arctic air can be more than just a slight disappointment. Weather influences our mood significantly, and for most individuals the winter months carry with it a greater risk of depression. Many women suffer from increased sadness, fatigue and irritability when the weather turns cold and the days get shorter. This wintertime change is often referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder, a very real mental health disorder that can affect the way we think, feel and behave.
Much of the time women may notice the physical changes of SAD first. Feeling chronically tired and excessive body aches are common signs of beginning seasonal depression and will likely be followed by the traditional changes in mood that are associated with depression. This emotional distress may become overwhelming, provoking women to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs; therefore SAD should not go neglected.
Treatment for SAD is much like that for major depression and other mood disorders, focusing on a balance of psychotherapy and if necessary, medication management. Brookhaven Retreat teaches women the skills to manage their emotional stress and minimize the effects of this disorder. Women learn the importance of continuing the same healthy habits that are nurtured during the warm summer days, including exercise, nutritious eating, spending time with loved ones and doing things you enjoy.
Nearly 14 percent of the US population struggle with winter blues and an additional 6 percent experience the more serious mood changes associated with SAD. Although winter has shown up early, and will probably overstay its welcome, we can take preventive measures to avoid feeling helpless and overwhelmed by the affects of seasonal affective disorder. If you notice a shift in your mood that begins and ends with the season change, therapy, healthy habits and medication management can help you break-free of seasonal affective disorder and find joy and satisfaction year round.