Category Archives: Mental Health

Take Charge of Your Life

 by Mona Dunkin 

Noted Psychiatrists, Dr. William Glasser, suggests the term “mental health” be replaced with “responsibility”.  Responsibility is the ability to get one’s needs met without depriving others of meeting theirs.  When needs are unmet we feel unfulfilled and fail to live at optimum wellness. We are not taking charge of our lives.

In 1998 I attended a lecture given by Dr. Glasser in which he intimated that certain physical and mental maladies are chosen. I took issue with that; I mean, anyone who would choose pain and misery would have to be crazy!

He went on to explained our basic needs and how we are driven to have them met.  Our health – physical as well as mental and emotional – is dependent on how our body handles our actions, our thoughts and the way we feel about things.

This led me to do some deep thinking. I ask myself some hard questions: Was swallowing my anger inflaming my joints?  Was my anger not only harming relationships but also my physical heart and blood pressure?  How am I hurting myself?  I do not want to hurt others but neither do I want to harm myself.

I began to practice the genius of Dr. Glasser’s wisdom.  When we begin to lovingly notice our disconnecting habits of thought and actions we can then choose to turn our attention to matters that leads to greater health and happiness and improved relationships. Only when we come to a conclusion for our self are we willing to make changes or take charge of our own life.

Oh, and my health today? Thanks for asking.  Peace reigns, relationships flourish, business is good, movement is pain free, most meds have been cut in half and I am releasing weight every day.

How about you? Are you ready to take charge of your life?

Habits & Happiness

Contributed by Denise Daub

9 Bad Habits That Get In The Way Of Our Happiness

by Sarah Bogdanski

Habits. They are so ingrained in us that we do them without realizing it. They are second nature, and we can live our whole lives with destructive and harmful habits, scratching our heads wondering why we aren’t happy or successful. We don’t even realize that are in a continuous loop of doing the same things over and over again, yet expecting different results.

And while it’s not easy to get rid of a bad habit, it is possible to create healthier, better habits, that will make all the difference in our happiness and success.

Here are nine common habits that get in the way of our happiness:

Read more here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sarah-bogdanski/9-bad-habits-that-get-in-_b_10684866.html?utm_hp_ref=healthy-living

Cross of Life

By Dr. Ken Larsen (Originally posted April 29, 2014)

I first hecrossoflifeard of the “Cross of Life” in the early 70s. Dentistry was going through a shift in orientation from post crisis “count the cavities” to preventive “don’t get cavities.” We were looking at what made people well. I had read Dr. Glasser where he encouraged us to think in terms of pursuing health and wellness rather than running from disease and unhappiness.  

Two components that come to us from all the sages through the ages is the importance of balance and harmony in life. The so called crossoflife2“Cross of Life”, balancing the four components of “Work, Worship, Love and Play” had been promoted by the Mayo Clinic as a simple way to conceptualize the importance of balanced harmony. Harmony in life, as in music, moves us toward happiness. Balance is essential to the wholeness we seek for our mental health.

A quick Google search brought me to this article from a small town paper in Victoria, Texas dated August 1942. The author, speaking from the Mayo Clinic, gives a good review of the importance of balancing Work, Worship, Love and Play in our lives.

Meditation in Motion

by Veronica Daub

It was difficult to watch the smiling faces of my friends spinning in and out of view, their limbs contorting and stretching in ways that resembled circus ballerinas. A plastic circle—a hula hoop; well, I thought those died out with elementary recess. But between laughter and silent moments of concentration, it was clear to see their minds were snagged on something deeper. I could see the spark resulting from accepting a challenge flare across their face; a look of accomplishment upon the landing, or the seamless retrieval of their plastic dance partner as it tried to roll away. Their facial expressions danced with the rest of their bodies, and with all the focus in the limbs, naturally the control over the face slackened—their blatant joy was genuine and not forced. As they twirled within their circles, I could tell I was invisible to them, sitting on the lawn while mindlessly tearing grass from the ground. I looked on with fascination; I couldn’t stay on the sidelines for long. Finally: “Hey, teach me something.”

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Three years later, my hoop and I have been through much reflection. People have called me “high-strung,” and I’ll admit I’ve always grown annoyed when attempting meditation. Sitting still doesn’t work for me—perhaps I need practice, but the combination of stilling my mind while allowing my body to convey the thoughts that flutter through my head has proven to be much more than useful. The hoop offers something much similar to meditation while including the action of my entire body. Whether it’s a distraction from any hurt or hardship that falls into my lap and wraps itself round my brain, a vehicle to release tension or stress from work or relationships, or a tool that magnifies a celebration—my hoop aligns me.

My hoop has become an extension of my limbs, and of course, it did not begin that way. Just like picking up a guitar for the first time, your fingers don’t know what to do, they’re awkward on the strings and it feels as though they’ll never feel at home on the neck of the instrument. The same is with the simple circle—it’s a foreign object that, just like a new friend, you need to grow familiar and comfortable with. When I first began, I would play for ten minutes before growing frustrated and tossing it aside. However, I always tell newcomers (because I try to spread the love of the circle further and further) the more you learn, the longer you’ll practice, because the more fun it will be. And then fun gives way to tools that benefit your headspace; within the circle is a place of comfort, a way to blur away and ease the frustrations of day to day life.

Plus, just wow, is it a great workout.

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There are many different ways to experience your hoop. On the wings of my favorite playlist, I drive myself into a dizzy stupor as my body tries to keep up with the tricks my mind tries to convey to my limbs, and I stumble around while panting through a huge grin that’s typical of a fiery session. But other times, my features are like still water, and my movements are slow and calculated. It’s during these times that the music is off, along with most of my senses. From the hoop to my fingertips, up my arm and to my shoulder blade, there is a direct connection to the stresses of my head which melt away as I let myself play with a toy like a child again. It’s necessary to embrace the child within us all, and the hoop has taught me to let the qualms of my life roll by like the hoop over my chest—contemplation rather than dwelling, and letting go rather than clenching on for dear life.

 

The Creative Mind (Part 2)

by Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC

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Many people have learned to use their creative thoughts and behavior to resolve any frustration or unhappiness that comes their way.  They use their creativity to overcome their sadness and depression, anxiety, anger, and to deal with important people in their lives that matter to them.  There are also those who use their creativity to resolve conflict with others in ways that may only slightly ease their unhappiness and frustration but cause other problems in doing so.  We see these behaviors manifested in such ways that are being called, Obsessive Compulsive, relying and becoming addicted to drugs/alcohol, anxiety attacks, mood swings (Bipolar), and other behaviors that seem unusual or “crazy” to anyone who witnesses these behaviors.   Others don’t often see what another person is facing with their frustration and unhappiness.  Nor do they understand that the person’s odd or unusual behavior is serving the purpose of easing that frustration and unhappiness, even if it is only slightly, and created as a result of their “Creativity.”  You can hammer a nail with just about any other hard object if you don’t have a hammer.  Using something other than a hammer is a person’s creativity to get a desired result.  Unusual behaviors are creative behaviors utilized by those who haven’t created a more effective tool to ease their frustration.

Our creative abilities allow for our general happiness.  Some create effectively and others create maladaptive behaviors because it’s all they created at the time.  Our creativity can get us out of many unhappy situations without the need for counseling or therapy or prescription drugs.   Those who have created ineffective behaviors to resolve their unhappiness are diagnosed and judged as someone needing psychiatric help in the form of “brain meds.”  These types of medications inhibit a person’s natural ability to be creative and to be able to create ways to resolve their unhappiness.

When you have weird or strange dreams at night or even dreams that make sense . . . that is your brain being creative.  So if you have dreams that don’t make any sense, does that mean you’re mentally ill?  If your brain is capable of creating when you are asleep, it is also capable of creating when you are awake.

CREATIVITY . . . it’s behind most of our choices of behavior . . . logical and illogical.

The Creative Mind (Part One)

by Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC

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Creativity can be found in all of us.  Many people consider creativity to be limited to the ability to make something materialistic, or to express one’s self in art, cooking, inventing, writing, or music.  While these things certainly require creativity, creativity is not limited to talent in those areas alone.   Everyone uses creativity each and every day of their lives for many different things.  We rely on creativity based upon the knowledge that we already possess about specific things, logic, and willingness to go beyond our knowledge.  We use creativity to make decisions that are primarily designed to result in happiness or pleasure.  We use creativity to solve or resolve problems in business, discussions/arguments, and in our relationships.

All we do, each and every day of our life is behave.  We choose our behaviors to satisfy our needs of survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.  When any of these needs are not being met to our desired level of satisfaction, it is human nature to rely on our creativity to satisfy and maintain those unmet needs.

If you have ever watched Naked and Afraid on cable TV, then you have watched individuals using their creative skills to satisfy their survival needs.  In relationships, we tend to put our best food forward when we first meet someone.  Behaving in a manner to cause another person to hopefully be drawn to you in a relationship relies on creativity for love and belonging needs.  Musicians, Artists, Chefs, Writers, Dancers, Educators, Athletes, and Inventors rely on creativity to be appreciated, helpful, competitive, to win, and to be respected as a result of their creative abilities.  These are ways of satisfying power needs.  Investing wisely for the future, making decisions and planning ways to free one’s self from confinement or from poor relationships relies on creativity.  Planning events, vacations, learning, and recreating requires creativity to make these things happen.

Have you ever been in an argument with someone and you just couldn’t come up with the things you wanted to say at the time in order to make a point?  That’s a silly question.  We’ve all done this.  Later, after the discussion or argument is over and both have gone separate ways, you continue to use your creativity thinking about it and suddenly you come up with whatever it is that you wish you had said or done during the discussion.   “I should have said . . . . “or “I should have done . . . .”  That’s creativity.

Here’s an exercise to utilize your creativity:  You wake in the morning and notice that it’s raining and you have a flat tire.  This is surely a frustrating situation.  So what will you do?  Some would say, “I’d change the tire by jacking it up and putting the spare on.”  But what would you do if you had loaned the jack to your neighbor several months ago and he never returned it?  “I’d go next door and get it back.” But he left for work an hour ago and no one else is at home.  “I’d call a friend to come get me to take me to work.”  S/he’s already gone and at their place of work.  “I’d call a cab to take me to work.”  These are examples of creativity.   Some may not use their creative skills very much and say, “I’d go back to bed.”  There are even more examples to this scenario that I could add but you get the idea.  Creativity is being used to overcome a frustrating situation.  With each creative endeavor that fails, another creative method is created until one of them eventually satisfies the frustration and need.

The REAL Behind Reality Therapy

By Mona Dunkin

It is mind boggling to think that neurological science asserts that one’s brain cannot tell the difference in reality and imagination. Suppose you open a drawer and a tarantula jumps out.   You scream, run or faint, etc., only to later discover that someone played a prank with a rubber spider.

In the same vein, the brain cannot tell the difference from past hurts and current thoughts about those past offenses. Continual musing over hurts of the past is as if one is reliving them now. Today. In real time.

Since all of our body works as an integrated whole, the emotions stay stirred up in mentally and physically unhealthy and unhappy ways.

And that affects our body. And here we go ‘round the mulberry bush – only it’s not fun.

Old school is mental health is for clients to get in touch with childhood traumas and other past hurts and work through them.  What are the results? The results may or may not drag yesterday into today. The results may or may not lead to little to no change.  The results may or may not give spurts of relief with long term staying stuck.

New school for mental health and happiness via Reality Therapy is to live today today. Don’t wallow in the past. Live in the NOW.

Delve into your creative system for the real you just waiting to be unleashed. You know the one. The one without all that baggage.

choiceEngage your free-will and choose.  You may or may not experience a deep sigh of relief.  You may or may not be able to move past the past.  You may or may not have an epiphany that ushers in mental health and happiness.

But here’s the amazing thing. You get to choose.  So be good to you.

Self-evaluate your results. Continue when effective. Regroup and re-plan when not so effective.  Live. Laugh. Love. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Or at least it is new school for those of us who have been blessed to learn about Dr. William Glasser and his amazingly simple strategies for blowing the (often referred to and seldom effective) common sense out of the tub and replacing it with personal responsibility.

Beach Body Craze

Contributed by Denise Daub

Just Say ‘No’ to the Beach Body Craze

by Melinda Parrish

Your body is perfect, just as it is. You don’t need to lose weight, or tighten up your tummy, or pop out your butt in order to have a perfect beach body. You already have the perfect beach body, and you should feel free to rock whatever swimming attire you feel comfortable in, regardless of your size.

This time of year, there are many fitness regimens, potions, pills, diet plans and supplements being offered to us that claim they will “transform” our already perfect bodies into bodies that are more acceptable to society. But this year, I’m saying “no” to the beach body craze, and so should you!

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I’m not saying no to showing my body love through movement each day, or to fueling my body with delicious, healthy foods, or to practicing self-care like bubble baths and massages and face masks. I’m just saying no to anyone or anything that would make me believe that my body isn’t perfect as it is, and that I have to be perpetually engaged in efforts to change my body in order to meet someone else’s standards for perfection.

Our bodies are sacred vessels that carry us through this life, and for that, they deserve respect.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melinda-parrish/just-say-no-to-beach-body_b_10063274.html?utm_hp_ref=healthy-living&ir=Healthy%20Living

Reflection: Take the Second Step: Use Your Brighter Lights

By Debbie Crinzi         

For a driver, bright lights are helpful to illuminate the road so it stands out clearly on dark nights. Road debris can be avoided.  You can see details much better with your brights. Use these lights when you don’t have a clear map for where you are going and when you sense anxiety rising. You also need them when feelings plummet and your body is tired—when emotions cloud your mind.

In the last blog we talked about turning the bright lights on. This involved relaxing your body and calming your mind. The truth is that our mind becomes our worst enemy. When problems arise, the mind creates a lot of chaos trying to out-think the problem. In order to hear even ourselves, we have to quiet the mind all the stories we are creating that increase anxiety and despair. We turn our lights on by relaxing our facial muscles, neck, shoulders, arms and hands. We concentrate on our breath – breathing in and out — until only the breathing in and out occupies our brain. When sneaky thoughts filter back, set them aside and go back to focused breath. After you are able to concentrate on your breath despite stray thoughts distracting you, it is time for the next step. Now bring into your thoughts something beautiful and meaningful.

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Step Two involves switching lights into brighter lights by reminding yourself that you have much to appreciate and be thankful for. Your worries are just one piece of a whole life. Take your calmed mind and focus on something beautiful or peaceful. For some people it is the image of the object of religious worship; for others, it will be a close person or a pet who is special to them; for yet others, perhaps a place such as a personal garden, the ocean or the mountains – a place representing joy and beauty. For someone else it will be saying an inspirational chant, prayer, song, or poem.

Which is it for you? Take some time right now. Choose something that makes you happy. Relive the experience in your mind, dwelling upon the things that make you smile. Acknowledge these positive memories. Surround yourself with them. Again, you are in charge of your mind. If sneaky, anxious thoughts creep in, consciously set them aside and go back to these joyful memories.

Until you take charge of your thoughts, it is difficult to think rationally without strong emotion tearing you down. You need this time of calming, then of rejoicing, before you are ready to listen to yourself reflect and work out issues and concerns. So take the time. Remember, controlling your mind instead of allowing it to control you is a habit that only occurs through practice. You don’t need to wait for crises to rain down upon you to practice. Take a moment each day to relax yourself, focus your mind on breath, and then fill your mind with happy experiences.

Reflection: Take the First Step – Turn on your Bright Lights

By Debbie Crinzi

Reflection is a critical part of making life better and happier. I compare the process of reflection to using your bright lights when driving. When you have good habits that keep you on track and the world around you is clear and understandable, you don’t feel the need to use your bright lights. However, when problems arise and unhappiness ensues that is the time to turn them on.

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The first step towards reflection involves turning on your bright lights. I often look for a quiet place to be alone where whether sitting, standing, or lying down I can deliberately relax every part of the body – starting with facial muscles, moving to neck, shoulder, neck, arms and hands.  Then I focus on calm, even breathing. Sometimes I have to start counting my breaths before I can just focus on the breath entering and leaving my body.  I have to control the thoughts flooding my mind before I can listen. Emptying my mind of thought, just focusing on breath, is the trigger to turning on bright lights. It is the first step towards self reflection. Try it! Whether indoors, outdoors or just sitting in the car, take a moment to first relax your body and then to clear your mind of its busy thoughts.

What you do a lot you get good at doing. It is easier for me to practice relaxing my body’s muscles and taking calm, even breaths when standing at the kitchen sink or looking out the window. I don’t have to wait until my emotions are choking me to use this skill. Actually, I want to become good at doing it before problems occur. By practicing the relaxing of my body and clearing my mind of anything except for my breathing, I discovered that it becomes easier to use this skill during times of stress and anxiety. After all, what you do a lot, you do become good at doing! Practice this skill at any time of the day for any amount of time. Putting the practice in strengthens your personal mind control and allows you to retrieve the skill when unhappiness pervades your life.