December 28, 2017

Mental Wellness

Posted in Well-being tagged , , , at 12:59 pm by kellyfdennis

winter-road-in-the-mountains-10011173While decreasing the stigma surrounding mental illness in order to create an environment in which individuals believe they can seek out care without judgement is paramount; equally important is understanding how to keep ourselves mentally and physically well (or return to a state of wellness after a mental or physical illness).

The following is a list of contributors to mental (and physical) wellness:

-Exercise. The research shows again and again the importance of regular, moderate exercise in the maintenance of mental wellness.

-Food. Proper nutrition nourishes the brain and there is research to support that certain foods can affect one’s mood state.

-Sleep. This is when our bodies and brains heal and recharge.

-Being in nature. Natural surroundings ease our brain’s fight or flight response and increase the “feel good” chemicals available to us.

-Having a sense of purpose. When we lack a sense of meaning and purpose we can become anxious, depressed, or feel empty and “blah” inside.

-Spirituality. Spirituality is the divinity that dances, and flows as the source and essence of every soul. Spirituality is related to your personal search, to finding greater meaning and purpose in your existence.

-Relationships. Feeling loved and cared for while loving and caring for others.

-Community. A sence of acceptance and belonging.

-Resilience. The ability to “bounce back”.

-Managing distress and eustress. Stressors can be both good and bad, being able to  managing the way they impact or minds and bodies is essential to well-being.

Most of these are “no brainers”. We know what to do, but what gets in the way of us taking good care of ourselves? Sometimes, we don’t believe we deserve the good care; other times we feel overwhelmed by the committment to do so. Try setting an intention in the new year to put more effort into the above list. When the effort seems hard, talk to someone about the “things that get in the way.”

Be Well and Have a Wonderful 2018!

 

December 21, 2017

Eating Disorders Anonymous Meeting

Posted in Eating Disorders tagged , , , at 4:32 pm by kellyfdennis

people taking group hug

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Where: Christ Lutheran Church 125 E. High St., Elizabethtown, PA (downstairs in Luther Library)

When: Tuesdays @ 7:00pm

More info: elizabethtowneda@gmail.com

About EDA (from eatingdisordersanonymous.org)

“Balance – not abstinence – is our goal.

In EDA, recovery means living without obsessing on food, weight and body image. In our eating disorders, we sometimes felt like helpless victims. Recovery means gaining or regaining the power to see our options, to make careful choices in our lives. Recovery means rebuilding trust with ourselves, a gradual process that requires much motivation and support. As we learn and practice careful self-honesty, self-care and self-expression, we gain authenticity, perspective, peace and empowerment.

Eating Disorders Anonymous (EDA) is a fellowship of individuals who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problems and help others to recover from their eating disorders.”

*This support group has a similar structure to AA, and is very open and diverse. While Eating Disorder support groups have mixed reviews, this framework seems to create the most success. Consider attending and checking it out (be curious!) and determine if it might be beneficial for you if you are in recovery from an eating disorder. Or pass this along to someone you know who might benefit from this type of support. (One note, Kelly is not involved in managing or leading this support group. It is entirely peer based.)

 

 

December 20, 2017

Balance Fear with Kindness

Posted in Compassion tagged , , , , at 5:10 pm by kellyfdennis

black and white sun in sky“Monsters don’t sleep under the bed, they sleep inside your head.” It is said, “Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as unguarded thoughts.” Thoughts are curious things, they can create fear and dread, or peace and love. May your thoughts today and the days to come be ones that build you up, not cut you down.

May you be healthy and strong, peaceful and happy. May you think thoughts of love and acceptance, for yourself and for others. May you be free from suffering and experience love in abundance. May you notice the sparkle of a snowflake, the twinkle of the stars. May you feel a gentle breeze upon your face and the warmth and compassion from those who are important to you. May you experience the courage to face a fear, and the confidence to accept yourself just the way you are. May you be kind and experience kindness.

That’s the way to make peace with the monsters that live inside your head.

December 14, 2017

Talk Less, Listen More

Posted in Communication tagged , , , , , at 3:48 pm by kellyfdennis

CatunderTreeSome people are very guarded and quiet in their communciation style, almost as if they are afraid of being found out somehow. Others talk incessantly, desperately attempting to be heard and validated. Then there are those folks that seem to blame everything wrong in their lives on others, or those people who don’t really listen, but are quick to offer unsolicited advice. None of these approaches to communicating is effective.

Let me ask you something: What if you felt at ease and comfortable being your true, authentic self in your relationships with others? What do you think would happen if you felt safe to share your thoughts and feelings with others and they felt safe enough to do the same with you? When we practice effective, satisfying communication, we are rewarded with relationships filled with more love, intimacy, understanding, and trust.

Communication is so much more than just a way of talking or getting one’s opinion out in the air. Essentially, communication means transferring ideas, thoughts, desires, feelings from the privacy of one’s own mind to a common place where other people can share them and receive them. Words, body language, facial expression, tonality, and style are all a part of effective communication.

The elements of effective communication are easy to list, but can be challenging to implement:

-Use “I feel_________, when you____________, because__________.”

-Steer clear of “always”, and “never”.

-Pay attention to what your body is doing while you are talking or listening.

-Check your tone.

-Don’t keep things bottled up and then try to effectively communicate when the volcano finally erupts.

-Listen whithout judgement and without thinking about what you will say next.

-Put aside your need to be “right”.

-Use reflection: “What I hear you saying is______. Am I hearing you correctly?”

-Communciate in a way that will make sense to your recipient. For example, communication is different when you are talking to your 10 year old son versus your 40 year old coworker (or at least is should be!).

Communication is complex and wonderful and is certainly relationship enriching when done well. The above list really just scratches the surface, but it’s enough to get you started. Be curious about learning to be heard and understood, and learning to hear and understand.

Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!

 

 

December 11, 2017

5 Steps to Improve Mental Wellbeing.

Posted in Mindfulness, Well-being tagged , , , , at 6:09 pm by kellyfdennis

MandalaColoringEvidence suggests there are five steps we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing.

If you give them a try, you may feel happier, more positive and able to get the most from life.

What is mental wellbeing?

Sarah Stewart-Brown, professor of public health at the University of Warwick and a wellbeing expert, says: “Feeling happy is a part of mental wellbeing. But it’s far from the whole.

“Feelings of contentment, enjoyment, confidence and engagement with the world are all a part of mental wellbeing. Self-esteem and self-confidence are, too. So is a feeling that you can do the things you want to do. And so are good relationships, which bring joy to you and those around you.

“Of course, good mental wellbeing does not mean that you never experience feelings or situations that you find difficult,” says Professor Stewart-Brown. “But it does mean that you feel you have the resilience to cope when times are tougher than usual.”

It can help to think about “being well” as something you do, rather than something you are. The more you put in, the more you are likely to get out.

“No-one can give wellbeing to you. It’s you who has to take action,” says Professor Stewart-Brown.

Five steps to mental wellbeing

Below are five things that, according to research, can really help to boost our mental wellbeing:

  • Connect – connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships.
  • Be active – you don’t have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.
  • Keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike?
  • Give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks.
  • Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.    From: www.nhs.uk

Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!

December 6, 2017

Peace, Let There Be Peace

Posted in Compassion tagged , , , , , , at 8:10 am by kellyfdennis

Discover a New Day logo smallWhere there is hatred, sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.-St. Francis of Assisi

A Sioux Story- “My grandfather took me to the fish pond on the farm and he told me to throw a stone into the water. He told me to watch the circles created by the stone. Then he asked me to think of myself as that stone person.

“You may create lots of splashes in your life but the waves that come from those splashes will disturb the peace of all your fellow creatures,” he said.

“Remember that you are responsible for what you put in your circle and that circle will also touch many other circles. You will need to live in a way that allows the good that comes from your circle to send the peace of that goodness to others. The splash that comes from anger or jealousy will send those feelings to other circles. You are responsible for both.”

May your ripples be those of Peace.

 

December 5, 2017

Thinking About Thinking

Posted in cognitive behavioral therapy tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:06 pm by kellyfdennis

figure-thinking-with-question-mark-100152866 I am similar to many other counselors who use an “eclectic” theoretical approach when counseling. However, I’d have to say that I do use a large percentage of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques when counseling. I use these techniques for a couple of reasons: CBT is empirically based, which just means that there has been a substantial amount of research confirming its efficacy; I find the techniques are easy for clients to understand; and the approach just makes sense.

Essentially, the premise behind CBT is that the way we think affects they way we feelwhich inturn affects the way we behave. See, it just makes sense! The tricky part for most people is learning how to “think about one’s thinking”. Generally, we go about our days on autopilot; we may not even be aware of the “thinking” going on inside our minds. Remember when you were first learning how to drive? You had to consciously think, “I’m turning left, so turn on the left turn signal. I’m stopping, so I need to gently apply my foot on the brake.” Now, if you’re an experienced driver, those thoughts happen pretty much outside of your conscious awareness.

Similar thoughts happen for us on a daily basis. We’re going along on our merry way and, for what seems like no reason at all, we begin to feel blue, anxious, irritated, etc. Most of us look for a person or a situation to blame for this feeling when really, it’s caused by a thought that we are having.  So, you might be saying “No, that doesn’t seem right, if a guy cuts me off in traffic, I get mad because he’s a jerk!” Well, to a certain degree that’s true…but you get mad because the thought you’re having is, “That guy’s a jerk!” What if the thought you had was, “I guess he just didn’t see me coming.”? Hmm…maybe you wouldn’t feel so angry.

Something to “think” about, isn’t it?

Be Well and Have A Wonderful Day!

December 1, 2017

Woke Up in a Bad Mood?

Posted in Compassion, Mindfulness tagged , , , , at 8:09 am by kellyfdennis

photoIt happens to all of us at one time or another, we wake up cranky and/or grumpy. Sometimes we can identify the reason, we slept poorly, have a busy day, the kids are fighting, the cat puked (and you stepped in it), etc. However, sometimes the source of the mood isn’t easily identifiable. When that happens here are some things you can try to help yourself feel better:

-Try some self compassion. Just acknowledging to yourself know that you feel grumpy right now and that’s ok is helpful. This feeling won’t last forever, and you can love yourself even if you’re grumpy.

-Stop whatever you’re doing, take a deep breath and just notice your surroundings. What do you see, smell, hear, and feel? Sometimes just disengaging from autopilot for a moment is enough to lift your mood.

-Take a brisk walk outside. Physical exercise releases natural feel good chemicals in our brain which can help dispel a bad mood.

-Try just accepting it, instead of fighting against it. “Ok, this is how I feel right now, let’s just move on.”

-Think of situations and moods in the short term. A big contributor to a bad mood is catastrophizing about something. “Oh, no, this commute is going to be awful; this presentation is going to suck; this day is going to drag on forever” If we can think about just what’s happening now and stop ourselves from making the negative predictions, the bad mood may lift.

-Get out of your own head and focus on someone else. When we shift our focus to helping others or at least paying attention to them we engage the natural emotional warmth that occurs for us as humans when we are in relationship.

-Listen to some uplifting music and feel free to sing along at the top of your lungs!

I hope you’re bad mood has lifted by now!

Be Well and Have A Wonderful Day!

stefdennis

ponderings on life, food, God, and love

Grace on the Moon

Do Not Weigh Your Self-Esteem on a Scale

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