Welcome to the Mental Health (MH) Vocab page, where I discuss important terms in the realm of self-care, to better understand healthier ways of taking care of our mind health!
Growth MindsetBuilding a growth mindset is the base to building a healthy mentality toward life, your struggles, and to finding your motivation. Some of you may have noticed the new logo of Mind Health Blog on the Instagram page, and if you haven’t, I have included it in the next paragraph! Shortly, it will be added to the design of the site that I am finishing up the final touches on. I wanted to share with you what it means to me and let you in on the vision for the website this year – briefly mentioned in my last post.
The logo displays a garden of flowers with a brain or “mind” floating above it, along with a watering can pouring over top.
The metaphor behind this is that we all should be ‘watering’ our minds daily in order to blossom, reach or full potential, and discover our true selves in the happiest way possible. “How do we ‘water’ our mind?” you might be asking. My response: do at least one thing for yourself each day. This something should be something you enjoy, something that is going to help you feel connected with yourself, and possibly something that is going to contribute to your overall success. Examples are:
-expressing yourself creatively – writing, drawing, painting, coloring, collaging, scrapbooking, etc.
-expanding your knowledge/learning – reading, researching, interviewing, documenting, etc.
-keeping your hands busy/making projects – DIY house decor, knitting, sewing, etc (closely related to creative expression)
-organizing/crossing off your to-do list – clean out the junk drawer, organize the tupperware, do all the laundry in the house, hang up new decor, call that service line you have been putting off, throw out clothes you haven’t worn in a while, donate unwanted items, etc (do these things because you know you will feel a weight lifted off your shoulders once you complete them…remember, you are doing it for you.
-physical exercise – go to the gym, youtube at home workouts, engage in a sport, try a new sport, go for a walk with music, break a personal record on a run, etc.
The bottom line and question you have to ask yourself is, how do you expect to improve your mental health and happiness if you aren’t doing things daily that connect you with yourself? We lose ourselves in the chaos and routine of working a 9-5, taking care of families, making dinner, watching TV, repeat. How static…we aren’t growing by doing the same things each day. I encourage you to participate in this Growth Mindset Challenge of 2019 by being with yourself each day for a minimum of 30 minutes – fully concentrated on one activity that you enjoy, regardless of what anyone else enjoys. Invest in contributing to your overall well-being by starting at the top – your mental health. I’d love to see you hashtag #GrowthMindsetChallenge on Instagram and tag @mindhealthblog, and hashtag the same on twitter with the tag @mindhealth_blog , adding a picture of yourself doing what you love most! Spread the word and encourage your neighbors in life.
Keep in mind, not only is growth mindset about self-care, it is also about being open minded to new aspects of life, accepting criticism, and being able to reflect positively on past events. I like to think about it as a lifestyle, not just a way of thinking.
PrioritizingThis week on the “word of the week” page, I would like us all to focus on how to really win at prioritizing your life. When life is busy, it’s easy to lose track of what’s important to us and we tend to make less time for ourselves. Each person’s priorities and values in life are different – right? Try this: below is a list of 10 common (general) items that people are asked to choose from. Rank them 1-10! Write it down or at least remember your top 3. (1=most important 10 = not much of a priority) ______ Making time for my friends ______ Making a comfortable living ______ Having a education ______Making time for my family ______Taking care of my physical health/exercising/getting enough sleep ______ Traveling to new destinations ______Owning my own property ______ My safety and security ______ Chasing after my dream job ______Raising my own family What are your top 3 priorities that you ranked? Comment below with what you picked and why! Moral of the story is: All of the priorities listed above are important and there is not a right answer as to the way that you weigh them in your life. The importance of identifying which ones are most valuable to you is so that you can get a better understanding of what kind of goals you can set for yourself and what you truly want to obtain in life to be happy. In fact, the ones listed above are things that everyone should be entitled to, no matter the situation or path to obtain them. However, no matter what your #1 priority is, your mental health should be one bullet point above that on the list of priorities. Don’t agree with me?
Let me ask you, if your mental health isn’t “in-check” or you are feeling unstable, can you:
- Succeed in school or comfortable get your dream job?
- Raise a healthy family?
- Feel safe in your own mind?
- Happily spend times with friends or family?
- Accepting and understanding that you need to tend to your mental health more often and educating yourself of the benefits.
- Identifying activities/hobbies that you find meaningful and uplifting.
- Contacting a support system that will help you through your journey to restore your mental health and peace of mind.
- Making appointments to meet with professionals, if needed (I do encourage it).
Prioritize your mental health before anything else and the rest of the priorities on your list will naturally fall into place. -apIt’s OK not to be OK! As long as you accept it and are willing to act on it with some self-care. What are you going to do today to put your mental health above all else?
Left Brain vs. Right BrainOkay yes, this is more of a ‘psychology term’ than a ‘word’ – but I find it very interesting and think it’s important to understand the difference between the two hemispheres of the brain and what they are used to do! Knowing the difference can help you better understand how to keep your brain sharp and keep a balance between the two.
Right brain vs. Left Brain = “the theory of the functions and structure of the mind suggests that the two different sides of the brain control two different “modes” of thinking. It also suggests that each of us prefer one mode over another.”
According to EEG studies, it has been found that the greatest philosophers, thinkers, inventors, and artists have a good ‘brain balance’ of the two hemispheres. Ecoinsitute.org suggests that meditation is the best way to connect the balance and open up the full potential of your mind. Meditation forces your brain to use both sides, enhancing the flow of them together in unison – what scientists call “brain synchronization”. In general, the left side of the brain plays the role of thinking:
- and in a time oriented manner
- It is said that left brain thinkers tend to learn in a more linear, symbolic, and reality based way.
- and in a big-picture manner
- It is said that right brain thinkers tend to learn in a more holistic, random, and fantasy oriented way.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)DBT (or Dialectical Behavior Therapy) was created in the late 1980’s as a psychotherapy mostly to treat borderline personality disorder. Today, it’s used largely to help people with a variety of mental conditions to cope with their feelings and develop life skills/strategies to make living meaningful. I teach DBT every so often in groups to expose patients to the concept and hopefully look for it in outpatient treatment after discharge! DBT is well-known for using acronyms as a reminder to practice the skills that it teaches.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy = “cognitive behavioral treatment developed to emphasize individual psychotherapy and group skills training classes to help people learn and use new skills and strategies to develop a life that they experience as worth living. DBT skills include skills for mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.”
Stages of Treatment in DBTThe goal is for you to reach stage 4 by the end of DBT treatment. Most people start at stage 1 and work up the ladder. Stage 1: behaviors are out of control and feelings are hopeless/helpless. You bay be experiencing suicidal thoughts or abusing drugs heavily. Stage 2: feelings of desperation are common. Behaviors are under control, but depressive thoughts are still there – often due to trauma or invalidation in the past. Stage 3: learn to live by defining life goals, building self-respect, and find happiness. This is the challenge. Stage 4: find deeper meaning with a more ‘spiritual’ connection to existence. (NOTE: This does not have to be religious.) Finding joy and freedom in the things you enjoy to connect you to a purpose.
The Four Modules of Skills TrainingDBT is centered around these four categories of skills – focuses on using unique activities, worksheets, and discussions to dive deeper into conquering these skills.
- Mindfulness – being fully aware and present in the current moment.
- Distress tolerance – how to tolerate pain in difficult situations rather than try to change it.
- Interpersonal effectiveness – how to make your needs clear and not feel guilty while maintaining healthy relationships and self-respect.
- Emotion regulation – how to change and control emotions that you want to.
Apps to Help Aid DBT PracticeSearch these apps in the app store to have practice tips and reminders right on your phone!
- DBT DiaryCard and Skills Coach
- DBT Trivia and Quiz
DBT WorkbooksThere are several quality workbooks to practice DBT on your own. I recommend this if you want to get your ‘feet wet’ with it before attending groups or classes if that makes you nervous. Here are some of my favorite workbooks! Note that there are DBT books that are specific to what you are struggling with, such as eating disorder, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, depression, etc.
IsolationWelcome everyone and happy Monday! This weeks word of the week is ‘isolation’ – a term I’m sure everyone is familiar with or even struggles with. I want to touch on some pros and cons of isolation, as well as ways to prevent dangerous outcomes of isolating yourself. Remember, there is a difference between ‘alone time’ and ‘isolation.’
Isolation: in terms of mental health, isolation is defined as – creating a gap between an unpleasant condition and other thoughts/feelings by minimizing socialization and meaningful connection with others.
According to psychalive.org, Being Alone: The Pros and Cons of Time Alone – the population is almost exactly split in half by those who prefer alone time and are introverts and by those who prefer to spend a majority of their time with others socializing, labeled extroverts. I want to emphasize that there is a difference between ‘alone time’ and isolation. Isolation begins when you notice yourself going days at a time without interacting with someone along with the lack of desire to do so in the first place. Isolation is one of the key symptoms of depression. If you or someone you know is spending a majority of the day in bed or alone, you could be depressed. On the other hand, we ALL need quality of alone time every once in a while. The important thing to do is be mindful of how much alone time we take and be aware of the things we do in our alone time. Another surprising statistic is from goodtherapy.org that reports 47% of Americans do NOT have a meaningful social interaction on a daily basis. Thats a huge number! We feel much better about ourselves and social image when we are able to communicate well with others and talk about common interests.
Benefits of alone time include:
- Recharging your brain
- Processing a difficult or unpleasant situation
- Boosts productivity and creativity
- Helps strengthen relationships by improving self-worth and also following by the good ole’ saying – “absence makes the heart grow fonder” which always proves to be true.
- Using the time to engage in self-care.
Cons of alone time are noted to be:
- Makes us vulnerable to ‘the voice inside our head’ – can cause us to overthink and self-criticize.
- Can lead to loneliness – (loneliness increases mortality by up to 30%!)
- Can hurt relationships and create a disconnect.
- Unproductive use of time.
CatastrophizingYou know, it’s the feeling you get when one bad thing happens and you work yourself up, remembering every other little thing that is going ‘wrong’ in life. One small (overcome-able) issue is now a whole snowball of emotions to no point of return and the world IS ending and your life IS NOT going anywhere and you might as well pack up a box and live under a bridge… You know, that feeling. BUT WAIT! Life is not ending and the problem really isn’t that big…it just feels this way.
Catastrophizing (verb): believing that something is far worse than it actually is and magnifying situations into something bigger than they are.
We all know this feeling. How do we overcome it or stop the downward spiral of overthinking? This is a form of cognitive distortion that is difficult to stop once it starts. So lets prevent it! Here’s how:
- Understand and accept that you are going to experience unpleasant thoughts from time to time – especially with a mental illness.
- Set aside a few positive affirmations or mantras that you like and work for you ahead of time so you can refer to them when you need them.
- Verbally say “STOP” out loud to yourself. It might take a few repetitions of this simple, yet powerful word. By saying STOP, your brain is interrupted by this and temporarily replaces the unpleasant thought.
- Think about a more positive outcome – how you can grow from it or what good could come from the situation.
- Realize and accept that the thoughts are, in fact, irrational and far-fetched.
- Practice self-care daily and indulge in activities that you enjoy – distraction is powerful!
“Worrying is the greatest misuse of the imagination.”