Holding Hope Services

FIVE EASY WAYS TO PRACTICE MINDFULNESS

We all get stuck, stuck in our thoughts, stuck in our routines, and stuck in our feelings. The invention of electronic devices often robs us of opportunities to experience the complex beauty of the present moment.  Though our bodies are physically present rarely are our minds. The term mindfulness was coined not too long ago, (1979), however mindfulness practice originates thousands of years ago from Eastern religions including Hinduism and Buddhism. Mindfulness is defined as intentional consciousness of our activities and surroundings.  Just by being aware of the sensory world around us, we experience mindfulness. Mindfulness comes with countless benefits including clarity of focus, decreased stress, lowered heart rate, and lowered anxiety levels. Mindfulness is one of my favorite counseling tools to use because with regular practice, it regulates anxiety, stress, and anger.  The great thing about mindfulness is that it can be incorporated into almost every daily activity!

 

EAT MINDFULLY

Something routine as eating can be turned into a mindful activity. Instead of eating your food in a rush, give yourself the time to savor the meal.  Sit down at a comfortable spot, and experience the taste and texture of the food. Allow your tongue to welcome any fusions of flavors from your meal. Most important when eating mindfully is to put away electronic devices. These devices only serve to distract us.

 

GET LOST IN THE FLOW OF WHATEVER YOU ARE DOING

My favorite time to get lost in the flow is when I’m cleaning or writing. Whether you like to clean or do something else, any activity you are immersed in is a great way to be mindful.  If you find yourself being distracted away by your thoughts, gently acknowledge it, and guide yourself to what you were doing. Mindfulness does not mean avoiding every thought, but observing these thoughts like passing ships and returning to the present.

 

TAKE MENTAL PICTURES

Many of us take countless pictures to share on snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook, but how often do we fully experience the awesomeness of what is in front of us? The next time you are at a concert, a festival, or some other event, take one picture and then put away the phone. When you are not fidgeting with your phone to take the perfect picture, you allow yourself to experience the moment to its fullest.  Use your senses to snap “mental pictures” of your surroundings.

 

 

PRACTICE MINDFUL DRIVING

If you are anything like me, I have a habit of listening to music or NPR (National Public Radio) on my way to work. Usually I am present enough to pay attention to traffic lights and oncoming cars, but rarely do I drive in silence and observe all that is around me. The next time you are driving to or from work, take the first five or ten minutes of your drive to practice mindfulness. Take notice of your breathing, how your body feels, the road, and traffic around you. Check out this link: https://www.wildmind.org/applied/daily-life/mindful-driving for ten ways to practice mindful driving.

JOURNAL DISTRACTING THOUGHTS

Thoughts getting in the way of you being present? Write them down! Our minds get so cluttered with mind chatter; often we end up in endless cycles of thoughts that make it difficult for us to be focused on the present. Don’t think of what to write or how you are going to write, just write! Doesn’t matter if it’s scribbles, words, or phrases. Writing for five or ten minutes each night before bed is a great way to release any lingering worries and thoughts that may make it difficult to sleep.

Most of the activities listed above are ones we do on a daily basis.  The only ingredient which makes these activities into mindful activities is awareness. Practicing mindfulness doesn’t mean avoiding unwelcome thoughts, but rather acknowledging they exist and focusing back to the present.

 

8 Ways to Thaw Away the Winter Blues

Blog Post Written by Child and Adolescent Counselor Kavita Adatia.

If you feel lethargic, down, and energy is depleting like an old phone battery, you are not alone. Though winter months are accompanied with holidays, a new year, cozy sweaters, and delicious hot chocolate, it is understandably a hard time for people. A small population (about 4 to 6 %) is diagnosed with SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Individuals diagnosed with SAD experience a significant shift in their moods when the days shorten. Although you might not have SAD, it is not out of the ordinary to feel down and in the dumps during this time of year. Fortunately, there are eight things you can do to thaw away those winter blues. Continue reading to learn how:

1.      SPEND TIME OUTSIDE/LET IN THE LIGHT.

During winter months, days shorten and nights lengthen.  Though it might be cold outside, consider spending time outside when the sun is out. It is extremely common to feel like staying inside in on a cold and snowy day. However, doing so means we do not get exposure to the sun, and this is one of the ways we can get vitamin D. There are many fun things to do outside, and your town may have some fun local events planned.

2.      GET SOME EXERCISE

It can be tempting to stay idle inside, eat to our hearts content, and not be active. After all it’s cold, you are low on energy, and the thought of putting on all those layers of clothing to go outside can seem like a chore. Do not let the fact that it is cold outside keep you from your exercise routine. Exercise releases the feel-good chemicals, endorphins, in our brain. The release of this chemical works similarly to how morphine works in our body and triggers a positive response in our bodies.

3.      EAT NUTRITIOUS FOOD

A low mood and poor sleep habits can entice us to reach for those foods high in carbs and fat. Instead, keep a healthy and balanced diet during the winter months to improve those down in the dump moods. Your diet should include foods like lean proteins, dark chocolate, bananas, berries, turkey, berries, and foods with Omega 3 fatty acids, folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin D.

4.      GET ENOUGH SLEEP

Adequate sleep is key when it comes to thawing away the winter blues.  Furthermore, eight hours of undisturbed sleep can help lessen low moods caused by the winter months. On the other hand, getting too much sleep can make us feel sluggish and more tired than usual. The solution is to keep a consistent bed time schedule and prepare an area that is conducive to a good night’s sleep.

5.      SEEK THE LIGHT

Light therapy is a very popular treatment for those who have SAD and can also help you if you struggle with the darkness that comes with winter. The bright light from a light box mimics the daylight from outside. If you are considering a light box for your winter blues, consult with a healthcare specialist or counselor to determine which light box best serves your needs.

6.      GET INVOLVED IN AN INDOOR HOBBY

Getting involved with a hobby can alleviate boredom and restlessness during the winter. If you used to write, draw, read, or do arts and crafts, and haven’t for a while, now is the time to resume. Winter time is also a great time to start something new, so if you have been eyeing that musical instrument you got for Christmas, now is the perfect time to start!   

7.      SOCIALIZE WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY

The winter months may tempt us to keep to ourselves, but spending time with friends and family may be just what the doctor ordered. Consider scheduling some time with people who energize and lift your mood when you are feeling down.

8.      SEE A COUNSELOR

If you still find yourself struggling with low moods during the winters and have tried everything such as light therapy, exercise, getting enough sleep, and keeping a balanced diet, talking to a mental health counselor can be a great next step. A counselor can work with you to determine the best ways to work with low energy and low moods, and can also customize a treatment plan that works for you. The most popular treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy which involves teaching you how to change your thinking in order to improve the way you feel. If you would like to see a counselor, head on over to: http://www.holdinghopeservices.org/about-us/ to schedule an appointment with one of our talented and caring clinicians!

 

 

 

 

Let Go Of Envy

Envy creeps into all of our lives from time to time. Recently on social media I saw someone’s successful project of something I really am interested in completing.  For just a second (or two) petty Julie thought “I’m not going to like that post” as if the person even cared or as if I wouldn’t be disappointed in myself for letting envy get the best of me.  Thankfully, my better angels prevailed and I liked the post because I do wish others well and hope for people to be successful.  I reminded myself of these three things to help tamp down any envy.

·It isn’t for you.

Whatever you may be seeing and desiring of someone else's – it isn’t yours and it isn’t meant for you.  I remind myself that it is OK that others have things I don’t or have an easier time in a situation than I do.  What others have is not mine and has nothing to do with me.  They have their journey and I have mine.  Someone else’s triumphs do not take away from anything I have.  I am not less because someone else has more or has done more than I have.  I only need to concentrate on myself, what is mine and what lessons I am here to learn.

Do not judge or compare to other people’s highlights.

Many times, we are guilty of comparing ourselves to others.  Look at any social media and see all the happy times.  Sometimes it is like everyone is winning some award, or reaching some milestone or getting to go on some adventure and you might feel left behind.  Remind yourself that social media posts don’t give the whole picture.  The post may not tell you all the hours the person worked or obstacles a relationship struggled through or all someone gave up to save for their adventure.  Someone’s highlights is not the whole picture.  Even when talking with family and friends, there are likely pieces you aren’t seeing.  Focusing on what others have that you don’t, especially when you aren’t seeing the whole story is time wasted.

·         Have an abundance rather than scarcity mindset.

Focusing on what others have that you don’t is a scarcity mindset.  It is a feeling of fear that there isn’t enough to go around and somehow you are going to be left behind.  A scarcity mindset can lead to fear-based decisions and being disgruntled about all you don’t have.  Conversely, an abundance mindset is understanding that there is enough for you.  Once someone believes that what they are supposed to have they will have, the easier it is to be open to the possibilities and actually allow what is meant for you into your life.

 

Next time the envy train is trying to get you aboard, remember these tips!  If you’d like help living your best life, feel free to check us out at www.holdinghopeservices.org.

Three Tips to Declutter Your Mind

Three Tips to Declutter Your Mind

Sometimes it feels like the world is so full of clutter.  There is noise in the streets, social media, and a house full of stuff. It can be overwhelming. I have found some simple ways to declutter my life that hopefully will help you as well. There is nothing like a clean house and a clean “world” to give you peace, allow you view your life with hope and be ready to face whatever struggle comes your way.

Happy New Year!

Each month I write a blog post for MSWonlineprograms.org.  It is geared towards individuals thinking about going back to school, who are in school and in the social work field.  This month my post was about Pinterest for Social Workers.  I'm sure if you click on some of the links you might find some interesting boards to explore.  (Don't forget to check out Holding Hope Services Pinterest Board!)   

I'll post the entire post below.  I'd like you to pay attention to the bonus tip I have toward the end.  It is an encouragement for you to create a vision board using Pinterest.  Have you set your goals for the next year?  Have you imagined where you want to be as 2017 is closing out?  Make yourself a vision board and keep yourself on track to realizing your dreams

Happy New Year!

One of the best things about starting a new year is not only the possibilities for the future but the motivation and energy we have to start projects and bring new ideas into life.  As a social worker – I love having new tools to use in my practice, new ideas to try and interesting readings related to the career I love.

I’m guessing most of us use social media, either personally or professionally, but I bet a lot of people overlook Pinterest as a place to gather idea to use in their everyday social work practice.  I use Pinterest all the time when I am looking for an idea or intervention or I’m looking for inspiration.  I find that perusing Pinterest makes me more excited about the work I do.  It also gives me an easy place to save websites I may want to check out again or resources I may need at a later time.  I have created many boards to organize all the pins I want to save!

I can’t vouch for everything on these boards but here are some favorite Pinterest Boards for Social Workers.

 

Things for Therapy

https://www.pinterest.com/nicoleschwarz/things-for-therapy/

Great interventions, particularly with school-age kids.  Love the pin about “What can I say to Myself,” helping children reframe their negative thoughts.

https://www.pinterest.com/danac8713/social-work-and-counseling-3/

Lots of ideas on this board.  I especially like the pin about how to write a personal mission statement.

https://www.pinterest.com/sarahmichelleh/counseling-therapy-worksheets/

Great worksheets, especially for children and adolescents.  A lot of the ideas can be tweaked just a bit to use with adults.  Let your creative side free.

https://www.pinterest.com/veronicaslemkas/therapy-worksheets/

This board has the adults covered with great pins to check.

https://www.pinterest.com/jacs911/therapy-worksheetsideas/

More great ideas for working with adults.

Social Work

https://www.pinterest.com/runlovelive/desk-of-a-social-worker/

A BSW worker in foster who is in grad school.  Lots of kid interventions

https://www.pinterest.com/GigiMac007/journey-to-my-msw/

This board has a lot of practical information such as links to Medicare information and to an article on ways a board certified case manager can help you.  (I like that one because I have the Care Manager Credential and would love the world to know what it means.)

https://www.pinterest.com/rabiafried/social-work-graduate-school/

More general social work thoughts and interventions.

https://www.pinterest.com/source/socialworktutor.com/

I follow this site on multiple social media platforms.  This link showcases all the great pins from social work tutor.  Great articles specifically about the struggles of social workers and also some funny memes which every social worker will understand.

https://www.pinterest.com/acshaffer/social-work/

Only about 2.7 thousand pins about social work.

Mental Health

https://www.pinterest.com/eddiegworld/mental-health/

Some interesting pins including some on self-care.

https://www.pinterest.com/sagegardencon/mental-health/

Lots of quotes about mental health.  My favorite – “Don’t be ashamed of your story. It will inspire others.”

https://www.pinterest.com/ulrikawennberg/mental-health/

Tons of general Mental Health Pins.

https://www.pinterest.com/inspire_ox/mental-health/

Lots of pins leading to tips on improving mental health.

https://www.pinterest.com/sluiternation/mental-illness-to-wellness/

This is definitely one of my favorite boards.  If you are looking for some insight on how mental illness feels – the quotes on this board illustrate it well.

General Grad School

https://www.pinterest.com/bcwiertniewicz/surviving-graduate-school/

This board seems to be created by a social worker.  It has pins to 20 Ted talks for twenty-something and great websites for students.

https://www.pinterest.com/caracliburn/growing-in-grad-school/

Just a few pins but a couple of gems are on this board.c

https://www.pinterest.com/mrgruntysmom/surviving-graduate-school/

This one had some good writing tips and posts all about getting that A.

Motivational (Some of my favorite boards! It is good mood food and encouragement to live fully!)

The next few boards all have quotes that resonated with me.  Now that you are perusing Pinterest, I’m sure you can find many that inspire you too

https://www.pinterest.com/camillagol/quotes/

https://www.pinterest.com/beautytips70413/motivation-quotes/

https://www.pinterest.com/melanietru/life/

Hopefully, you find some boards in this list you like.  It is surprisingly easy to get so involved that you will have a lot of helpful boards of your own!  Feel free to check out my boards to see lots more ideas.  https://www.pinterest.com/helpingholdhope/

Bonus Tip:  I often suggest to clients who want to make a vision board to start a Pinterest board.  This is the perfect time of year to think of your goals, discover your desires and take an active part in envisioning your future.  Just create a board on Pinterest and add pins that touch your soul or motivate you to achieve your goals.  Then don’t forget to check back periodically to maintain your motivation and honor your successes.

Happy Pinning and Best wishes for an amazing New Year!

Live the Holiday Season - Don't wish time away

It is the holiday season!  Ideally, we are connecting with family and friends and acknowledging all for which we are grateful. 

I was listening to a Christmas song –“This Christmas Moment” - my old high school BFF created and performed with the group Digital Soldiers.  (Don’t anyone say I won’t splurge and spend .99 cents on an old friend!) 

"This Christmas Moment - Digital Soldiers"

It is a great song but it also prompted me to think about how many times I hear people say they hate the holiday season and they just can’t wait till it is over.  It is almost as if it is not connected to a real feeling but an ingrained habit on how tiring the season may be. 

This holiday season – Don’t wish time away.  (Actually, try to never wish time away.)  This is what life is.  Enjoying people in our lives.  Connecting with the world around us.  Even if you are away from family or friends or feel alone – there are moments you can connect with the now.  Take a moment of quiet and look at that neighbor’s house with the beautiful Christmas Lights.  Recognize when someone goes out of their way to help someone else.  Honor the commonalities you see with others – especially those we call family and friends - rather than all that divides us.  Take action to fight the injustices that are keeping you up at night and engage with all your being.  If you are making or buying gifts, try to stop and enjoy it rather than just checking off one more task on your to-do list.  Share the stories of your history and your personal holidays with those around you.  Even if you don’t celebrate any of the holidays from around this time of year – focus on what you do celebrate and make an effort to fully engage in each moment – don’t just wait for it to be over.  If you want to take your kids on the Polar Express – do it.  If you want to look at the lights at an arboretum. Do it!  If you want to find a beach to rest on - do it.  If you want to play nonstop holiday music – do it.  Just don’t hibernate counting the days to January.

Embrace the secret Santa exchanges (or as my work team is doing this year, a secret menorah exchange) at work and the holiday parties and the bustle of the seasons.  Write out Christmas cards to connect with those who come in and out of our lives.  Go to the holiday concerts and school activities.  Create your own ritual for those with whom you can no longer share your holidays.   Embrace the quiet moments you do find - relish them more because they may be far between.  If you feel lonely or sad – feel those feelings – it is all part of the gloriousness of life!

There is never enough time.  There are no guarantees that all the people you love – or even yourself – will be here next year.  Stop yourself when you start to complain about the busyness.  When you hear yourself say that you just want the season to be over – recognize and remind yourself that you really want to enjoy this time of year and remember you have the power to enjoy it.

Live your life.  Actively live your life.  There is never enough time – Don’t wish any of it away.