Thinking and Wellness

If you haven't explored the mindfulness movement, it may be time to do so. A clear mind, an open mind that has a positive and optimistic focus creates happiness and health. Don't just take my word for it. There is a plethora of research and documentation on the benefits of meditation, relaxation training, yoga, biofeedback, hypnosis, visual imagery for mental rehearsal, music, art and exercise. However, how we think about things becomes the lens we view everything. Our thoughts and beliefs direct our actions. In all of our lives, it is possible identify or find patterns that lead us to freedom or roadblocks. Unfortunately, doing this without a guide, coach, therapist is VERY difficult. One reason to consider this difficulty is to ask yourself the following; Do you ever lose an argument to yourself in your own mind?" I doubt it. If you are interested in finding out, leave the "screen time" and move to "face time" with trusted friends or colleagues. It may be time for a paradigm shift or as I mention to many in our sessions together, an upgraded operating system is needed.  Mindfulness changes the brain in positive ways. See the simplicity, calm and beauty all around you. Be present, thoughtful and observant. Then, feel gratitude. Clear your mind of the clutter. The founder of MBSR Jon Kabat-Zinn has published books, a curriculum and practices to be more mindful. Remember, an empty mind is an open mind. An open mind gives you a sense of calm. 
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
-Jon Kabat-Zinn Founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

Visibility Matters

I was both surprised and delighted to get this notice from Google. WOW.....10,000 hits to our office location. Not only does The Lovett Center have a great building, atmosphere, we have a warm, professional staff, offer many different programs for a number of problems with individual sessions, groups, intensive outpatient services and programs, continuing education programs, services for children and adults and collaboration with other highly regarded professionals and centers. 
Feel free to check out The Lovett Center website to view the clinicians and programs. Click on the link below to view the center website.
The Lovett Center

Happiness: To be or not to be.....

Happiness is a journey, not a destination. How you travel in this world has a lot to do with attitude, optimism and the lens you use to view the world. Let's start with these questions.

  • Are you awake to your own life? 
  • Are you living in the present vs. the past or future? 
  • Are you paying attention & honoring your friendships, love relationships? 
  • As Freud suggested, do you have balance in your work, love and play?
  • What are you doing to enhance your happiness?
  • What are the roadblocks to your happiness?
Take these questions and explore the inner dimensions of thought to understand and engage in thoughts and actions that enhance your happiness. Since life is precious, taking time to evaluate who and what is valuable to you is a good starting place. There is usually a direct correlation of your thankfulness and daily gratitude with happiness. Taking time each day either in the morning to start your day or end your day with a review of things you are grateful for is a good practice. Researchers tell us that one of the most important elements of a longer life, a healthier existence and recovery from chronic illness, trauma or loss-----are loving supportive relationships. Shakespeare made this a declarative statement......in essence a choice. Do I chose to be happy or not? Why not? 2017 may be a time to break free to find and live a happier life. 
Study happiness, spend time with happy people, seek out activities and engage in experiences that can bring you happiness. One last thought, I doubt happiness will come knowing on your door. You have to go out knocking to find it.  
Link to Presentation below.


Complaining is bad for your brain and body!!

Complaining actually rewires the brain!!!  OMG, who would have thought this? In a recent study, it was determined that "Repeated complaining rewires your brain to make future complaining more likely. Over time, you find it's easier to be negative than positive, regardless of what's happening around you. Complaining becomes your default behavior, which changes how people perceive you." an article by Travis Bradberry at entrepreneur.com published on 11/24/16.
These negative circuits get stronger with repeated internal or external dialogues. tThe brain wants to is accommodate you by making these thoughts automatic and more easily accessed thereby integrating them into your neural circuits. There is a pretty recently discovered process call "Neuroplasticity." Plasticity” is the term neurologists use to describe the brain’s ability to change. Your brain grows new connections as you learn new skills. The change is gradual, as your brain cells develop new connections to speed the efficiency of new skills acquired. So, since you brain can change, make it work in a positive direction with an emotional circuit that is optimistic, rather than pessimistic. Not only does complaining bring negativity to you, it can be downright depressing. Gossiping, watching too much news exposes you to imagine or anticipatory fear, violence and hate elevate your cortisol levels, causing a multitude of physical and emotional problems. Stay clear of negative or toxic people, thoughts and activities to created more resilience within. Since your brain is "plastic" guide it to take you to better places, people and experiences. Remember, the the body follows the mind, to take yourself to loving kindness, being present, grounded and targeting happiness. 

Holidays: Great or Grief?

Holiday time can be some of the most emotionally challenging times of all. Depending on your current life circumstances, this could be an extraordinarily happy time celebrating good news or the opposite. Loss of a loved one changes everything around the holidays. Rituals, traditions, preparations, social connections take on entirely new dimensions. These changes can be quite challenging. There are ways to manage the holidays while honoring your loss or grief and staying engaged.
Rather than avoiding the feelings of grief, lean into them. It is not the grief you want to avoid; it is the pain. Grief is the way out of the pain. Grief is our internal feelings and mourning is our external expressions.

As difficult as it might be, find social support to help support you through the holiday season. Consider creating new traditions, rituals and experiences that honor you and your loss. 

Do’s and Don'ts
·      Do be gentle with yourself and protect yourself.
·      Don’t do more than you want, and don’t do anything that does not serve your soul and your loss.
·      Do allow time for the feelings.
·      Don’t keep feelings bottled up. If you have 500 tears to cry don’t stop at 250.
·      Do allow others to help. We all need help at certain times in our lives.
·      Don’t ask if you can help or should help a friend in grief. Just help. Find ways; invite them to group events or just out for coffee.
·      Do, in grief, pay extra attention to the children. Children are too often the forgotten grievers.

Tips: 
  1. Acknowledge that the holidays will be different and they will be tough.
  2. Decide which traditions you want to keep.
  3. Decide which traditions you want to change.
  4.  Create a new tradition in memory of your loved one.
  5. Decide where you want to spend the holidays – you may want to switch up the location, or it may be of comfort to keep it the same.  Either way, make a conscious decision about location.
  6. Plan ahead and communicate with the people you will spend the holiday with in advance, to make sure everyone is in agreement about traditions and plans.
  7. Remember that not everyone will be grieving the same way you are grieving.
  8. Remember that the way others will want to spend the holiday may not match how you want to spend the holiday.
  9. Put out a ‘memory stocking’, ‘memory box’, or other special place where you and others can write down memories you treasure.  Pick a time to read them together.
  10. Light a candle in your home in memory of the person you’ve lost.
  11. Include one of your loved one’s favorite dishes in your holiday meal.
  12. Be honest. Tell people what you DO want to do for the holidays and what you DON’T want to do.

 This is a time to discover how to make these holidays honest, genuine and purposeful.  You can and will get through the Holidays!!!! 

How to Start, Sell & Run an EAP

Next week, I am headed to Chicago next week for the EAPA World Conference. Marina London, LCSW and I will be presenting an 8-hour pre-conference training on creating a new line of business in your practice. This is a "hands on" experience to go over all of the essential elements of the scope and operation of an employee assistance program.  This is a great opportunity to create a new business opportunity.
This is the link to registration. EAPA World Conference

FEAR!!!!!!!!

How can you proceed in your life IF you are ruled by fear?The simple answer is, you can't. Fear will make your life small, then make it shrink to isolation. If you find yourself avoiding going out, trying new things, turning down invitations, it may be time to examine how and why your are holding yourself back from taking risks, adventure, socializing, and being proactive about giving your life purpose, meaning and fun. How do you start to face your fear?.........borrowing from Cheryl Sandberg, you have to "lean into your life." Her reference is women in the workplace and leadership, but all of these ideas apply to anyone holding themselves back. To sum up my notion about conquering fear, "the only way out of fear is through the fear."  Lean into the fear and you will find the barriers are easier to penetrate than you imagined you may have skills now to cope, manage and overcome those mental/emotional barriers. Fear can grow into anticipatory anxiety or even panic attacks if unchecked. Your fight or flight response (Amygdala) actually hijacks your limbic system causing a flood of stress hormones to flow and either paralyze you or cause you to want to escape.  
You may need to find support, a coach, or engage in psychotherapy to get in touch with and break the patterns or cycles that perpetuate the fear. The more you avoid taking on your fears, the stronger and more entrenched they become.  Many times I find once confronted, the fear of the fear has been so great, there is a complete shutdown. Examples of fear of driving, flying, speaking in public make you a prisoner. The brain can be helped with Cognitive Behavioral Techniques to change those patterns and create new calming, reassuring circuits that boost confidence, calm and competence in your own mind and world.