3 Mindful Strategies to Increase Positivity During Hard Times

Limit Exposure

  • Limit the time you’re exposed to the situation. Be informed, but limit the amount of news, media, social media, that you take in. For social media, you can choose to follow and unfollow certain accounts and channels. Use social media to build yourself up, promote positivity, and connect with non-toxic people. Social media is a fantastic tool when used this way.

Practice reframing thoughts

  • Reframe your negative and distorted thoughts. Read about cognitive reframing here. To begin dealing with negative thoughts, we must recognize when we have one. Next, is to identify what triggered the emotion. Our thoughts and emotions are linked. Notice whether you are ignoring, minimizing, or exaggerating the situation. Challenge your thoughts, be curious about them. Keep in mind that thoughts are just thoughts and not fact. The final step is to reframe. Rewrite the thought so that it is no longer negative, personal, permanent, and pervasive. With the practice of reframing our thoughts, over time, positive thinking becomes a biproduct.

Allow yourself to feel peace

  • Let peace begin with you. What can you do or think that makes you feel peaceful? A few ways to begin feeling peaceful may include, guided meditation, going for a hike or walk, drawing, working on a puzzle, journaling, etc. Allow yourself to feel peace and notice what it feels like.

Limiting exposure to news and social media, reframing thoughts, and finding peace are 3 mindful ways to increase positivity, but there are other paths out there, as well. Participate in 2 to 3 mindful activities for a few weeks or a month to see what you enjoy. Build a mindfulness skillset to use during hard times.

If you would like to work on this with someone, reach out to a professional counselor who can help.

Would you like some positive affirmations? Visit a past article, Positive Affirmations to get through a Crisis or Difficult Time and download my free sheet.

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You Will Keep Going


If you need support, reach out to a counselor, don’t hesitate. Most counselors are providing teletherapy now. You don’t have to leave your home and it is easy to get started.

I specialize in telemental health. Contact me if you are a resident of Pennsylvania and would like to talk.

Keep going!

Learn about teletherapy here.

Whetstone Ridge Trail, VA

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4 Ways to Reduce Anxiety

People are under an increased amount of stress due to the ongoing pandemic, which has no concrete ending. People who don’t have a mental illness disorder, such as anxiety, are also experiencing mental health vulnerabilities during this time. They report having issues like difficulty concentrating, difficulty remembering things, sleep disturbance, and decreased mood.


4 “M”s in mental health

  • Mindfulness
  • Mastery
  • Movement
  • Meaningful connection

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is living in the present moment in a non-judgmental way, and practicing it fosters awareness. People who have completed a mindful activity say that they feel more calm and peaceful afterwards. Download and use mindfulness apps on your phone, follow along on a YouTube video, and try a variety of other mindful activities like the three below. Building mindfulness takes practice because it is a skill.

Read about what mindfulness is here.

Mindfulness 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Grounding Technique

Mindfulness Walk Activity

10 Minute Guided Mindfulness Meditation for Anxiety YouTube video.


Mastery

Mastery is about engaging your mind and doing what you’re good at. Ways of engaging can be tasks as simple as cooking and cleaning. Other ways of engaging your mind include creative writing and expressing yourself through art or music. Mastery can be thought of as a form of distraction. Lastly, it can be thinking about what we have already overcome in life.


Movement

Physical movement, such as walking, weightlifting, running, hiking, yoga, writing, painting, playing an instrument, and dancing are all ways to keep moving forward. Movement helps our minds de-stress and feel better. Another benefit is that mood is boosted.


Meaningful Connection

Stay connected to people. If you can’t meet in-person, then stay in-touch through video chatting, social media, phone calls, and sending letters in the mail. Another idea of staying connected is by having a digital picture frame and sharing the “add photos” link with your extended family. Then, extended family members can upload pictures to your frame. This is a good way to see what they (and their pets) have been up to.

Nixplay picture frame


These four tips take 10-15 minutes per day and everyone can apply them.

We should be taking advantage of mental wellness strategies like these daily to build up resiliency and improve overall wellbeing. Everyone should have mental health preparedness for situations like the pandemic. People need a list of resources and coping strategies. People should also re-engage with their mental health treatment professional or seek out one if counseling is new to them. Needing support from a professional does not mean that you are weak.

Watch psychiatrist, Sue Varma’s 03:31 video, practical tips to reduce anxiety here. The video is from March, 2020 during the Coronavirus pandemic, however it is still applicable today.

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Taking Care of Your Emotional Health During a Disaster

Information from the CDC on taking care of your emotional health during a disaster.
A few steps that you can follow:

  • Take care of your body.
  • Connect with others.
  • Take breaks.
  • Stay informed.
  • Avoid too much exposure to the news.
  • Seek help when needed.

Common signs of distress to look for:

  • Feelings of numbness, disbelief, anxiety or fear.
  • Changes in appetite, energy and activity levels.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares and upsetting thoughts and images.
  • Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes.
  • Worsening of chronic health problems.
  • Anger or short-temper.
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.

* If you are experiencing these feelings or behaviors for several days in a row and are unable to carry out normal responsibilities because of them seek professional help. *
There is further information and additional resources on CDC’s website, here.

Jennings Environmental Education Center, Moraine State Park, PA

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Plant-Based Mental Health Counselor (and Plant-Based Doctors Directory)

Are you looking for a plant-based doctor or professional guidance on going plant-based?

Visit Plant-Based Doctors to find the right healthcare professional for you!

Plant-based counselor

Did you know that I’m a plant-based counselor?

I’ve been vegan for years, and I greatly care about being proactive towards my health and the environment.

I strive to encourage people to have a well-balanced lifestyle and to not only work on their mental health, but their physical health, as well.

If you think we’d be a good fit to work together, reach out and I’d be happy to answer your questions. – I’m not a certified dietitian, though I will probably recommend you find one if you need one. — I have experience working with people who battle eating disorders.

Why are you in such a hurry?

Take things in shorter strides and enjoy the journey of life.

Shorter strides doesn’t always mean slower.

Sometimes we rush to get to where we’re going because the journey is long and stressful, we want to just get there! It can also be stressful to rush.

If we look at the journey in sections, it can be less stressful or daunting. Break it up and take time off if you need to.

Enjoy life differently, as it happens, as it unfolds.

Spinning Your Wheels: ask for help when you’re stuck

We don’t always like to ask for help, a lot of times we’ll wait until we’re feeling completely overwhelmed by emotions and stress. While there are multiple reasons that we might behave this way, such as fear of failure or rejection, for example… however, this article isn’t about that. Let’s get right to the point. Ask for help when you know you’re stuck vs spinning your wheels and wearing down. Find out why and how.

The video below has more details, I hope you like it, literally!

Who can help?

There are many support, helping, and healing professionals out there: medical professionals; birthing coaches; personal trainers; dietitians; chiropractors; physical therapists; occupational therapists; mental health professionals; running coaches; life coaches; business coaches; financial planners; attorneys…

Turn to your network, coworkers, family, and friends, and begin to just look and see who might be able to help or who knows someone who can help. When we need a helping hand with something, we’re in a vulnerable place and sometimes asking for a hand might involve sensitive information. As you look for someone to help, be aware of confidentiality, protect your privacy.

Possible signs of needing assistance

There is a wide range of signs and symptoms that point in the direction that you should ask for help. Depending on your situation, you may experience tension in your body, stress build up, upsetting emotions arise, feelings of helplessness or hopelessness, distress tolerance lowers, self-defeating thoughts, mental breakdowns… this can quickly start sounding like a commercial reciting the side effects of a meditation.

Go with your gut instinct and ask for help when you realize that you need it. Avoid the side effects.

Why you should ask for a hand

Don’t put off seeking help because sometimes symptoms will worsen. In some cases, the longer we spin our wheels, the further we sink down in the mud, the harder it is to get back out. The mud flies everywhere and then, blankets things around you. The longer we are stuck and sinking down, the greater the risk of other areas of our lives have at becoming harmed.

Keep in mind, this is incredibly important with mental health, that it is easier to be treated the sooner you seek help from a mental health professional. The sooner you reach out, the sooner you can feel relief.

Lower distress tolerance was mentioned above as a sign that you may need to reach out for help, but how do you know how to measure distress? How much distress is too much? Visit this little article and resource on distress tolerance and download the scale to increase awareness.

Even if you haven’t felt stuck for long, still consider reaching out. It’s better to ask a question, to have a second opinion or additional set of eyes on something than going alone.

Possible benefits of a helping hand, a second opinion, and another set of eyes

By taking action, we create the opportunity to grow personally and develop professionally. There is much to learn from other people. They have different opinions, experiences, and expertise.

Overcome the risks you feel that are keeping you down by taking a chance [By the way, sometimes the risks aren’t actually there, but our minds tell us they are. For example, making a mountain out of a mole hill. Our thoughts are catastrophizing. This is a part of cognitive distortions.] The benefits of getting help typically greatly outweigh the potential risks.

Some potential benefits are accelerating towards achieving goals, learning something new, becoming more flexible seeing from another person’s perspective, lessening the chance of getting stuck again with that same thing, and making a connection with someone you might not have otherwise.

You’ll feel relieved after reaching out. Opportunity awaits! Achieving goals are on the other side seeking help. You deserve help, you deserve to reach your goals! You’ve worked hard to get to where you are now, everyone gets stuck at some point, acknowledge your hard work and achievements. Asking for help isn’t admitting defeat, asking for help is a strength.

Thanks for watching this video, I hope that it provided valuable insight and a nudge in the direction towards asking for help if you need it.

Please, help others find this video by “liking” it and “subscribing” to my YouTube channel. Your support is so appreciated!

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It’s a “Positive Affirmation” Kinda Day

Today, I’m diving into my positive affirmations, as negative and distorted thoughts have crept in. This is completely normal and something everyone goes through. I like to write my positive affirmations, which include quotes and Bible verses, on index cards. Today, I wrote one about being a business owner. The affirmations are kept on a shelf next to my work desk. As I read through my cards, I reflected on them, noticing that I’m feeling pretty good about them and have not needed to use certain affirmations for a few months! I take them to heart, I know that they are true.

When I’m going through my day and notice physical symptoms of worry and anxiety, I know that a helpful strategy is to visit my cards. Having three to four mental coping strategies on hand, that aren’t going on a run, is key. Addressing anxiety by going on a run is my top way to manage symptoms, but I can’t always go out when I want, so I take deep breaths and incorporate mindfulness to create a different reaction. I read my affirmations as many times as I feel appropriate. There are tougher days where I keep them on my desk and will intentionally be more aware of my breathing throughout the day, as I know that an unhelpful habit is to hold my breath.

When was the last time that you read or recited positive affirmations to yourself? If it has been a while, don’t forget that this is a simple way to redirect your thoughts. Know your distorted thoughts and unhelpful habits. Know when you need to use your positive affirmations and other coping strategies, and pay attention to the benefits.

Find more on affirmations below:

Positive affirmations to get through a crisis or difficult time.

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Being Fearless, Accomplishing a Dream

Think of something that you’ve always dreamed of doing. Travel? Opening a business? Contacting someone you haven’t talked to in a long time or ever? Dumping an unhealthy habit that you have been clinging to? It can be anything. It is probably overwhelming to think about and you might be afraid of the process. I’m talking about really stepping outside of your comfort zone and tearing down the protective barriers. Think about how freeing accomplishing that dream could feel… YOU DID IT! Think about all of the possible benefits of that accomplishment, like further opportunities, boost in self-esteem, feelings of gratitude and happiness, and reconnection.

Fear and Anxiety Holds Us Back

Being honest with yourself, what has kept you from doing that? If it is anxiety, you’re not alone. The feelings of fear and anxiety are there to protect us on a primitive level. These emotions help us to survive and make better choices. If we didn’t have these feelings, what would be stopping us from doing something dangerous? These are normal, healthy emotions and we can’t make them go away. We don’t want them to go away.

Our thoughts that hold us back can seem to come out of nowhere at times. Thoughts are naturally occurring and will come and go. Know that thoughts are thoughts and not reality. Just because we think something, doesn’t make it true. Identify the thoughts that hold you back, reframe them to better use, and learn how to better manage your anxiety. Even though we can manage anxiety, we can’t get rid of it, but we can keep it at bay.

What was that dream accomplishment that you thought of earlier? How can you make it work? What small steps can you take to get the ball rolling?

My Real-Life Example

Here is a simple example of a long-term goal of mine and thoughts that I struggle with. This is in regards to participating in the BADWATER 135 ultramarathon (I am a seasoned ultrarunner). This is a goal that has been several years in the making and there are a few more years to come in this journey before I stand at the start line. Many doubts have popped up in my mind over the years. Doubts that I’m not good enough, and doubts that details would never come together to make this dream a reality. Anxiety comes and goes. I experience anxiety over what people might say or think if I ever bring up wanting to run The World’s Toughest Footrace, so I rarely talk about it. Anxiety over becoming injured and never being able to run ever again. These thoughts have been bothersome, coming and going, since I got started. I want this goal bad enough, and I’m going to give my best effort, so the thoughts aren’t going to keep me from doing what I am passionate about.

Reframe Fearful and Anxious Thoughts

The unhelpful thoughts are identified, now let me show you how to reframe this fearful way of thinking. The doubt that “I’m not good enough” can be reframed to, “I am hardworking and have been thoughtfully and skillfully working towards this goal for years. I have grown so much, not just as an athlete, but as a person. I’ve come so far, I’m not going to give up now.” And “things won’t ever come together for me,” to “continue to be patient, every year you are steps closer to this goal, and you are diligent in catching all of the preparation details.” As for the anxiety, “I can’t ever tell anyone without being judged,” to “who cares what people have to say about it, this is something that I love.” For anxiety over injury, “I’m worried that I’m going to get injured in a freak accident on the trail while training,” to “I’m a careful and skilled runner. I rest my body and care for it enough, so that I can do what I do. My running coach is also mindful when it comes to injury prevention.” That is how to reframe, think realistically.

More Anxiety Management

There are multiple ways to manage anxiety. Self-care should be the top priority because it is the base from which we build upon. This includes proper diet, exercise, and sleep. Use the reframing skill from above. Learn Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy coping strategies. Talk with a licensed professional counselor to have support in sorting out the details and find what works for you. Practice yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises. Practice these things consistently overtime to create helpful habits. The process isn’t always easy, there are challenging times, stick with it, and give yourself grace. It is a true learning process. I have been using these strategies consistently for years and they work. As you do the strategies, you will find favorites and learn when to use which strategy, as one will be more helpful than another in any given scenario.

When Your Dream Becomes a Reality

When the time comes to tackle that dream, reflect on your journey. How does it feel to be where you are, today? What is the biggest thing that you learned in those smaller steps? How can you apply what you have learned in the future? Continue the helpful habits that you have established or are continuing to work on. Honestly, the work never ends, and having a healthy mind is a ton of work, but we absolutely need to nourish it.

When that dream becomes reality, be connected and in the moment with it. Take it in. What does it feel like physically, emotionally, and spiritually? What is the greatest part of the experience? How proud do you feel? What have you learned? When it’s all over, would you do it again? It is important that we acknowledge the benefits of the hard work and perseverance. There is a mountain of experience to take away from accomplishing a dream.

I hope that you found this article insightful and are perhaps examining anxious thoughts that are keeping you from achieving your dreams. Incorporate the strategies that I have discussed into your day-to-day life and notice the benefits. Keep striving towards accomplishing your dreams, soaking in that journey.

Badwater Basin, CA

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MH professionals, thought I’d share my current favorite books and resources.

Meaning

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

[Check out his other books!]


Relationships

The Gaslighting Recovery Workbook: Healing from Emotional Abuse by Amy Marlow-MaCoy, LPC


Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Journal


Christian

Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling extended edition by John G. Kruis


Habits

Atomic Habits by James Clear


Mindful Eating

The Mindful Eating Workbook by Vincci Tsui, RD


Anxiety

Rewire Your Anxious Brain by Catherine M. Pittman, Ph.D. and Elizabeth M. Karle, MLIS


Trauma

Trauma-Informed Yoga: A Toolbox for Therapists by Joanne Spence, MA, E-RYT 500, C-IAYT


Transforming the Living Legacy of Trauma: A Workbook for Survivors and Therapists by Janina Fisher, PhD


Transcending Trauma: Healing Complex PTSD with Internal Family Systems Therapy by Frank G. Anderson, MD


Happiness

The Happiness Toolbox by Jonah Paquette


Awestruck by Jonah Paquette

Do you have a favorite from this list or a recommendation?

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