Inspiration, Journaling, mental health

Philosophy of Hiking

It is April in the Midwest and I’m taking a hike as I dictate this blog post into my phone. It’s 64° and I’m comfortable in my tank top and leggings. I’m wearing my ball cap hold my hair out of my face with my oversize sunglasses to keep my sensitive eyes comfortable! I coulnd’t be happier right now!

I’ve definitely noticed a trend of clients struggling with their seasonal depression into the month of March and April which bothers them as they have a belief that March and April should be warmer. It’s been my experience, as a lifelong Midwesterner, that we seem to think that the winter is only going to happen during the month of January and February. When it persists into March and we’re still having snow and frigid cold days in March and April we get incredibly depressed because we think “why is this still happening“? …But it always happens that way. We always have very cold days in March. We almost always have snow in April. The difference that I propose is that we need to stop living in wait of perfect circumstances, and instead take advantage of small windows of opportunity that cross our paths. 

  • Instead of waiting for the perfect weekly forecast, why not take advantage of a one hour lunch break on warmer days
  • Instead of waiting for no rain for days straight why not strap on your hiking boots and hit the trails regardless of their condition, mud won’t hurt you!
  • Instead of waiting to have a friend to go with you or entertain you when you spend time in nature, why not learn to conquer the silence and spend time with yourself?

What are you waiting for? Get outside!

four people standing on top of hill during sunset
Inspiration, mental health

Reflections on Friendship in Adulthood

Having friends is one of the greatest gifts life has to offer. Friends bring joy, comfort and companionship—all invaluable traits in life. But there are also many other reasons why having friends is important. From improving your mental health to increasing your physical activity levels and more, the benefits of friendship cannot be overstated. In this blog post, we’ll explore why having friends is important and how having a solid network of supportive people in your life can make all the difference. Whether you’re a child or an adult, read on to discover why friendships are essential for a happy and fulfilled life.

It’s no secret that humans are social creatures. We thrive in relationships and generally wither when we’re isolated. That’s why it’s so important to have friends – they provide us with the love, support, and companionship we need to stay mentally healthy. However, sometimes life gets in the way and we find ourselves without a close confidante. Maybe you’ve recently moved to a new city, or your old friends have drifted apart. Whatever the reason, isolation can lead to depression.

Loneliness has been linked to increased stress levels, anxiety, and even physical health problems such as heart disease. And when we’re feeling down, it’s difficult to summon the energy to reach out and meet new people. So what can you do if you find yourself feeling lonely and depressed?

First of all, don’t despair – it’s perfectly normal to feel this way at times. Secondly, try to be proactive about meeting new people and building relationships. Join a club or take a class – anything that puts you in contact with like-minded individuals. Make an effort to socialize outside of work or school; invite friends over for dinner or go out for drinks together. Finally, stay connected with your existing friends by making time for regular catch-ups (in person or online).

If you’re feeling isolated and depressed, remember that you’re not alone – help is available. Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional if you’re struggling to cope.

It’s been said that connection yields contentment, and there’s a lot of truth to that. We all need friends to help us through the ups and downs of life. Good friends are there for us when we need them, and they help make life more enjoyable. They can make us laugh when we’re feeling down, and they can offer a shoulder to cry on when we need it.

Friends are an important part of our lives, and we should cherish them. They enrich our lives in so many ways, and we should be grateful for their presence in our lives.

Friendship isn’t always easy. It takes effort to maintain, just like any other relationship. But unlike other relationships, friendship is voluntary. We choose our friends, and we can choose (and they choose us!) to keep them in our lives or not. Friendship is worth the work because it’s a unique relationship that brings joy, support, and companionship into our lives.

Friends are there for us during the good times and the bad times. They make us laugh when we’re feeling down and help us celebrate our successes. They provide a shoulder to cry on when we’re going through tough times and offer words of encouragement when we need it most. Friendships are built on trust, honesty, and communication. When these things are present, friendships can weather any storm.

It’s important to nurture our friendships and show our friends how much they mean to us. A little effort goes a long way in maintaining strong relationships with the people we care about most. So reach out to your friends today and let them know how much they mean to you. Friendship is definitely worth the work!

We need friends in adulthood

As we age, our social circles tend to shrink. We might move for work, have kids that consume our free time, or simply drift apart from old friends. But even as adults, we need close peer relationships – and not just with our romantic partners or spouse.

Humans are social animals, and research has shown that having close friendships can be good for our health. One study found that middle-aged adults who had strong social ties had a 50% lower risk of dying over a 10-year period than those who didn’t. Other studies have shown that social connections can help boost immunity, reduce stress, improve heart health, and increase lifespan.

So if you’re feeling lonely, don’t despair – there are ways to make new friends as an adult! It will require persistance, courage, and energy…and it is worth it!

Inspiration, parenting

GOOD news!

My co-author and daughter Grace and I were interviewed by our local news station! Check out the story below!!!

We are on a mission to normalized transracial families (and all families that aren’t “typical”)!

Grace being interviewed on the local evening news!

You can get a copy signed by Grace in the bookstore tab above!


Why Body Image Matters

This body image is so much more than how you feel about the number on your scale or the size of your clothes. Body image is the mental picture a person has of their own body – as well as their thoughts, feelings, judgments, sensations, awareness, and behaviors surrounding their feelings about their body. Body image influences a person’s behavior, self-esteem, and psychological well-being. A healthy body image is when a person has a true and clear perception of their body’s shape/size and when they are able to celebrate and appreciate their body as it is. Healthy body image results in a person understanding that their physical appearance says nothing about their character or value as a person and a person with a healthy body image feels comfortable and confident in their own body, as it is. If a person has an unhealthy body image their perception of their body is distorted. They are convinced that only other people are attractive and that their body shape and size is a sign of personal failure . Unhealthy body image impedes a person’s happiness and while being by damaging their self esteem, Interfering in their ability to engage in meaningful life and develop a sense of belonging and acceptance.

Why does it matter? Self-esteem is critical for a person’s psychological well being. Self-esteem is the immune system of your mental health and results in resistance against mental illness, while providing strength and persistence with problem solving. Healthy self-esteem allows you to be willing to take risks because you know you can handle it! It allows you to learn new skills, be creative, accept feedback of all type, to be productive in what you do, to be assertive, and to fair to both others and yourself. Self-esteem is a consequence. Let me say that again: self-esteem is a consequence. It is a product of continual practice of practice of living mindfully, purposefully, and with integrity. A person who practices self-love, gratitude, self-validation, meditation, and mindfulness on a regular basis can sharpen their skills and grow a healthier self-esteem.

Body image develops over time as a result of the messages we receive:

  • From society
  • From our families
  • From our friends and peer group
  • From the images we take in through the media
  • From prejudices and discrimination you may have experienced based on race, ethnicity, religion, ability, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity
  • From the frequency that we compare ourselves with others
  • From our exposure to images of idealized versus normal bodies
  • From experiences of abuse

The current beauty ideal in the American culture for a woman is to be young, tall (with long legs), to have an hourglass figure (with a very small waist and large breasts), smooth skin (with no cellulite, scars, body hair, or stretch marks). For people of color it is idealized to be light-skinned and if you are white, you should be a golden tan. The beauty ideal is very Eurocentric and goes so far as to pressure those of Asian descent to get eyelid surgery and for those of the BIPOC community to bleach their skin and chemically straighten their hair. THIS IS SO UNREALISTIC! The consequences of unrealistic beauty standards are dire. If a person develops an unhealthy body image (and how could they not) they will likely have lower self-esteem and self-worth, trouble in relationships, disordered eating, depression, anxiety, suicidal thinking.

So what can we do about it? For one we can expose ourselves to diversity. We need to expose ourselves to bodies of all types, skin of all shades, hair of all textures, features of all shapes. We need to see the reality of diversity, not the cookie-cutter celebrity influencers on our social media feeds.

  • When is the last time you went to a grocery store in a different part of town?
  • When is the last time you took your family to but your family to a social event or festival celebrating a culture different than your own?
  • When is the last time you purchased an item featuring featuring persons who did not look like yourself it yourself?
  • From the books on your bookshelf to the art on the walls of your home and office, what body types are you seeing? What shows do you watch? Who do you follow on social media?

You have a choice! You can can set a better example for yourself and the other people in your life (especially the children)!

Inspiration, mental health, parenting

Family Road Trip Reflections (part 2)

We have been quite off the grid over the last week. As we come back toward civilization and regain cell-service, one word jumps out at me: gratitude.

I won’t lie, pit-toilets aren’t my favorite thing. Trying to stay upbeat and positive for my kids isn’t always easy when I am trying to convince them that pit toilets are “better for the earth”, “totally clean”, “a cool way to camp”, etc. We had two consecutive nights at a primitive site, then two consecutive nights at a less-than clean roadside campground, then two nights a site with great amenities but no electric…

…and I am now able to be so incredibly grateful for a charged phone, a flushing toilet, showers, and food options (pb&j for lunch everyday gets somewhat old 😆). I desperately hope that my girls are able to touch base with that same gratitude.

My eyes are also grateful for the rich vistas and amazing sights that I have been able to see (especially in contrast to the highway in front of me for the last 4 hours as we travel to our next stop).

My heart is grateful that the US has a National Parks system that protects land and educates the public on the needs for conservation.

I am grateful that my mom was able to come on this trip (yes, she is roughing it and tent-camping right alongside us)!

I am grateful that my husband and I share the same values…we prioritize experiences over items, hidden gems over tourist traps, and believe it is a crucial lesson to pass on to our daughters.

Please enjoy these amazing views from Theodore Roosevelt National Park (our favorite from this trip!) :

Wind Cave National Park:

The Badlands National Park:

Custer State Park/Black Hills, South Dakota

I realize that it may seem harder to be grateful when you aren’t on vacation…however, it is a skill that you can practice and get in touch with amid your daily life. You may find it easier to practice gratitude of big things, but I urge you to also practice gratitude of the little things!

Little things I am grateful for right now: it isn’t raining, I am listening to a great audiobook, I have downtime to write this blog, having fresh water, new stickers for my laptop (of the National Parks), and minivan DVD players to keep my kids entertained.

What are you grateful for?

Inspiration, Journaling, mental health, parenting

Family Road Trip Reflections (Part One)

We set out on a minivan road trip on Friday with a 12 day goal of touring Michigan, Minnesota, and the Dakotas (and connecting states) in an effort to explore nature and 5 National Parks: Indiana Dunes, Voyageurs, Theodore Roosevelt, Wind Cave and the Badlands. We also plan to see numerous other national landmarks, forests and Lakeshores (Sleeping Bear Dunes, Mt. Rushmore, Painted Rock, etc).

At we stop every 1-2 hours to keep everyone happy. I’ve never understood the benefit of forcing human bodies to stay in their seats long enough to be miserable. At our stops we encourage all sorts of movement and on long drive days, we find longer hikes along our route for our sanity.

Hike break at Indiana Dunes National Park
Dipping our toes into Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan
Lake Superior

I am eager to be showing my girls how to make the most out of the little things. For example: yesterday was a “rain out” but we still saw 4 waterfalls, toured a sleepy little towns dock and 4th of July celebration during a lull in the rain (the girls loved watching the firefighters have a water fight with their hoses but couldn’t understand the kids willingly getting wet because it was chilly) and we snuggled into our tent for a movie (thankful for a charged IPad and downloaded movies) while grown ups played a dice game in small vestibule as it rained! We also tries a local upper Michigan delicacy: pastys (like a pot pie/calzone creation).

Painted Rock National Lakeshore
Waterfall in Upper Peninsula, Michigan

Our last campsite was the most rugged (no running water – pit toilets a) but it was RIGHT on Lake Superior which was worth it! We are all ready for a shower tonight though 🙂

Our 5 star accommodations: three adults and three kids!
Lake Superior

Today we leave Michigan and head to Voyageurs National Park and are hoping to see the Northern Lights!

DBT, Inspiration, mental health

My Fire is LIT

I just had coffee with someone that reignited the spark. It should be no secret that Your Mental Restoration has been at a plateau over the past few years. I could blame being a parent, I could blame being a business owner, I could blame my day job, I could say that I don’t really have the fire that I want everyone to think I have…but none of that is true. My fire to grow this business: Your Mental Restoration, is burning brightly. The heat is intense and the urgency is there! I think at the core, I struggle to be consistent when I don’t see immediate results and that is difficult to admit.

As a therapist I meet with other business owners that are like-minded on a regular basis for networking and marketing, and as an introvert I don’t often look forward to these meetings. I was very much looking forward to meeting with Daniel Henderson, founder of RecoverWisely because at a luncheon I attended he alluded to using backpacking as a tool to help others remain sober. It sparked my interest because it has been a significant part of my own recovery journey to use nature, exercise, holistic, and healthy lifestyle choices as well. Daniel’s story is exceptional and unbelievable and incredibly inspiring. As a person in recovery from addiction and while he was fully sober he fell off a mountain and almost lost his life. That recovery process became just another step along his journey and he stayed sober throughout at all. While he works a day job like me, he also has founded an organization called RecoverWisely, which among many things hosts sober pop-up events, sober bars, and he’s trying to motivate people to be willing to take the step into backpacking and hiking on their sober journey.

Talking with Daniel made me think about sharing more about my own journey. I have not been open about the things that I have experienced in life that have led me to be a therapist and a passionate mental health advocate. In my twenties I thought that I wasn’t old enough and wouldn’t be taken seriously but now, as I am firmly in my mid thirties I think it is time. I’m going to begin working on that. For now, what I want to share is that I’m not going anywhere. Your Mental Restoration isn’t going anywhere either.

Sometimes I feel like I’m marketing products that are unrelated –  I have written 3 books on 3 seemingly unrelated topics topics (parenting, DBT, and a children’s book on transracial adoption). I post inspiring content on all social media platforms (search @yourmentalrestoration on TikTok, Insta and Facebook or @alyxfields on Twitter) but there isn’t a clear thread. I’m a therapist and a mom and a wife and I work to have my own identity but what is the golden thread connecting it all? It became very clear to me in talking with Daniel that while his golden thread is addiction recovery with a heart for outdoor aventure, my golden thread is mental health recovery, with a heart for dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).

 Everything I do can be tied back to DBT. Every choice that I make about parenting, every holistic wellness step that I take on my own journey, every future planning session that my husband and I have where we review and share our goals for the future. All of it spins off of a common hub of DBT. My Passion is to make DBT known and accessible. This is why my book Adulting Well is only $10, this is why I accept insurance at my private practice, this is why I walk the walk and talk the talk. I want excellent quality mental health services to be accessible to all.

 I am presently motivated and I hope that you will help hold me accountable. Please comment on my post’s, comment on the material that I put out there. Share my content with other people. Make suggestions of what you want to see more and less of. I know that my story can help you, I know that my message is valuable, I know that my life has not happened on accident but that the universe has orchestrated this whole chaotic mess of catastrophes in order for me to reach this point in my life. I am by no means whole and complete, but I am whole enough to help you begin to follow the same journey. Stay tuned. Much love.

blue skies
DBT, Inspiration, mental health

Meditation Saves Lives

This is my all time favorite representation of the power of meditation. I encourage you to watch the video and reflect on what it could mean for you. When he gets overwhelmed with the multiplying flies (his thoughts, which only multiply when you refuse to let them be) and places his hands over his ears, I am moved to goosebumps. It helps me see that I am not the only one who gets overwhelmed with racing thoughts and I am not the only one that has an INCREASE in racing thoughts when I first sit down to clear my mind.
If you can embrace the thoughts for what they are, blips on the radar and not feed into them, you will find that they settle on their own.

A few great FREE resources for new meditators:
Insight timer app
YouTube guided meditations

red gray and yellow abstract painting
DBT, Inspiration, mental health, parenting

Sick and Tired?

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I am fed up with feeling exhausted and having a pity party because:

  • I don’t have time
  • I can’t find a sitter
  • I have kids with me
  • I have a to-do list
  • I have chronic pain
  • I have a full-time job

The reality is that I have to make the time, I have to accommodate having kids with me, accepting that not all things need to get done at the same time, off and on nagging pain will always be a part of my life, work will be there and work can wait. I have to create the opportunities that I’ve been wanting to have fall in my lap.

This has all come to a head this week as my gym’s kids club keeps shutting down for staffing issues. I fell into a bit of a woe is me pit because as a working mom, it isn’t fair. I have an amazing husband who tells me to go to the gym anyway and he’ll watch the kids, but as I already take time away from my kids and husband during the work week, I feel too guilty taking more time for the gym. So, I must take my own advice (see Overcoming Obstacles as A Working Parent) and make it happen. After my pity party cleared out, I was able to see clearly that I do have options available to me:

  1. My office complex has a very mediocre gym, on-site. Let’s face it, I’m not a body builder and this will be sufficient!
  2. It’s spring and I can resume walking around the block, bicycling, and playing outdoors with my kids for more physical activity.
  3. Instead of paying $90 as a copay to every doctor I see, I can spend $90 on supplements one per month to optimize how my body is working.
  4. I can eat healthier…that one doesn’t cost anything.
  5. I can resume daily journaling to improve my clarity and mental health.
  6. I can resume reading to improve my self-image.

I could keep adding to my list, but the reality is: I have choices. I can take control of this ship and steer it in the direction I’d like to go and you can too! Find an accountability buddy (I have different friends and co-workers that I write with, read with (book discussions after we read books on our own), apps that prompt healthy habits, etc…and before long, I know that the habits will be self-reinforcing because the payoff will be worth the effort.


Big Goals, Big Anxieties, Big Rewards

Our family is undergoing a bit of a metamorphosis lately and I am so overwhelmed! We set some BIG BIG goals for April and did not intend for them to all start picking up steam at once; and yet, here we are…chugging full speed down the track with way to many passengers!

I don’t mind working on many goals at once because when they are accomplished, the reward is so, so sweet. I got a taste of that last Thursday when all of the balls were smoothly rolling in the right directions (I’m using all of the metaphors today!) and it felt like an amazing sense of relief. We then had a (well-timed) camping trip over the weekend which allowed us to destress and relax as a family. Our kids were so excited to sleep in a tent and roast marshmallows!

My daughter and I wrote a book together and it finally got published the week before, we were ready to celebrate with smores and beautiful views! My oldest had just transfered to a new school and my youngest had just started a new speech therapist. My oldest two had just started agirl Scouts and wrapped up their winter sports. It felt like we had had a ton of appointments and tasks at each step. And yet we persisted…

The other big projects varied in size but the other massive one is that we are remodeling our master bathroom and that is QUITE and undertaking! We felt like we hit a turning point right before the camping weekend, in that the demo was done and we had all of the supplies gathered to start putting it back together upon return!

I guess you could say in our family we “go big or go home” and typically we “go big at home”. We set big goals and we reap big rewards! I am so ready for it to be done though…to enter a season of coasting…