DBT, Journaling, mental health

Self-Encouragement

Today I want to introduce you to the skill of SELF-encouragement. In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) it’s taught as one part of the IMPROVE acronym. I believe that it is one of the most overlooked and under-utilized skills in the book. In short, self-encouragement is talking to you self as you would talk to a friend.

inspirational pooh

We would NEVER say to friends the negative statement that we say to ourselves. If a friend is crying to you about a life problem, I doubt you’d say “suck it up”, “get over it”, “what’s wrong with you”, etc…So why on earth would you say those things to yourself?

Furthermore, would you keep a friend around who talked to you in that way??? NO! You would avoid them like the plague.

 

So get with it and take a page from Hobby Lobby or Instagram’s book…
– print out those cutesy phrases
– follow inspirational people on social media
– splurge on that wall art that moves you
– set the backdrop of your phone and/or laptop to be motivational
– use a dry erase marker on your mirrors
– use bathtub crayons in your shower
– buy a positive though-a-day calendar
– buy the jewelry with the catchy calming phrase on it

self encouragement

Take control of that inner critic, silence the stadium full of nay-sayers in your head and BE NICE to you!

Feel free to share your favorite self-encouraging ideas, quotes and plans in the comments below.

 

Updated from original post on Edit“Self-Encouragement”

DBT, Inspiration, mental health

Meditation 101

Formal Zen meditation is the type that I practice and encourage my friends, family, clients, etc to practice also.  Notice I said practice…yes, sitting upright and still requires PRACTICE! The basic components are:

  1. Sit upright and still on meditation cushions (zafu and zabuton) with three points of contact with the floor to stabilize you.  This should be a comfortable position and should not cause straining.  For example, if you cannot get yourself into lotus position, don’t! It is encouraged that you find a position that you can hold for the duration of the meditation without discomfort.  Frequent shifting is discouraged, I recommend that you experiment with different positions in your first few weeks.

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  1. Clear your mind as best you can and focus on either nothing or your breathing.
  2. Practice non-attachment when you notice your mind drifting (as it will) by gently bringing your attention back to your breathing. The reality is that your mind will wander and it will wander more when you are new to meditation and/or when your stress is higher.  We can acknowledge this without judging ourselves or the practice.  It is simple, not easy! Many people complain that they feel MORE anxious when they try to quiet their mind…which may be true because they have removed all of the distractions that they normally put between their feelings and their consciousness.  Ride that wave, calmness will follow. It reminds me of snorkeling in choppy water…the water is only choppy until you put your head under the water to see the reef below!
  3. Length of meditation varies, the magic isn’t in the number of minutes; rather it is in the willingness to practice steps 1-3 over and over and over.  Meditation is a muscle that most of us forget we have, thus it is out of shape and needs to be worked consistently over time.

The benefits of sitting practice are innumerable.  Science finds that:

Benefits-of-Meditation

You can really meditate whenever your want, where-ever you want, with whoever you want. I recommend group meditation in the beginning…think about how much you cognitively know about exercising and eating healthy vs what you actually do in your day-to-day life…? I find that group meditation holds you accountable and achieves better results just as group exercise does! Most major cities have group meditations or a zen center to provide this structure.

 

 

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Self Care

As a mental health professional, self care is paramount to my well being and ability to do my job well.  I often say that I won’t preach what I don’t practice, so I wanted to share with you five of my self care rituals.

1. Sleep.  My sleep is mandatory and highly schedule! I typically allow for 10 hours of sleep each night, knowing that sometimes it takes 15-20 minutes to unwind and fall asleep.  The longer block of time also allows for me to wake on my own (BEFORE the alarm startles me awake).  If my body happens to need more sleep, it is not difficult to get it with a 10 hour block.

2. Skin. I use a lot of lotion! I have a large bottle at every sink in my house, on my dresser, on my nightstand, in my purse and work bag, at my desk, etc.  I find putting on lotion to be a kind gesture to my body; whether it’s hands, elbows or feet.  It also allows me to pause for a moment several times a day just to reflect on the sensation.

3. Scents. I am an avid candle burner.  One of the first things I do when I get home is light a bunch of candles all over the house.  The warmth, flickering light, and scents are all very relaxing to me.  I also choose my body wash wisely, using a citrus in the morning and lavender in the evening.

4. Music. I always have music on. Records, playlists, Spotify, Pandora, radio, etc. Music to me is very soothing, both listening to it, searching for it, etc.

5. Me time. To me, this means scheduling time to explore.  From new stores, the library, trails, taking the scenic route or walking around the block.  I love to spend time exploring and learning about new places, people, and parts of the city I live in.

What do you do for self care?

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Websites for Support

Just as there are apps, there are also some great websites out there to provide encouragement and distraction if you are struggling with depression and anxiety.  Below are a few of my favorites:

http://www.gretchenrubin.com/ Author of The Happiness Project, this website/blog has some great encouraging posts and realistic challenges you can try to bring more joy to your life.

http://www.positivityblog.com/ “Happiness and Awesomeness Tips that Work in Real Life”

http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/ Realistic and uplifiting blog posts to improve your day/mood.

http://tinybuddha.com/ “Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives”…who doesn’t need that?!

http://thenicestplaceontheinter.net/ Need a hug? This is the site to visit!

http://www.thedailycute.com/ Something about cute puppies and kitties that just lightens the mood and makes it awfully hard not to smile.

http://www.calm.com/ Walks you through a calming experience

http://www.goodnet.org Information related to “good” causes around the world, can be uplifting to see the good things others are doing in the world

And of course this blog!! Don’t forget to check back often for new posts J

What are your favorite web pages to visit when you need a pick-me-up? Comment below so others can also check them out.

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Finding and developing a passion

 

I have recently been reminded of how important it is to find, develop, and have a passion in your life.  My winter passion is quilting and sewing.  I very much enjoy the process of finding a pattern, seeking the perfect fabric, and putting the product together.  It becomes quite therapeutic.  This may seem like an antiquated hobby; however I liken it to carpenters building furniture.  The resulting quilt or garments are incredibly rewarding.

As I reflected on my own passions, I remembered several others: hiking, painting, crafting, gardening and reading to name a few.  What are special to me about passions are feelings you get during the process: lost sense of time, pride, joy, accomplishment, and serenity.   The things you are passionate about will leave you feeling full and motivated as opposed to lazy and worthless.  For me a contrast would be how I feel after watching television…I tend to feel tired, lazy, and unproductive.  Those are not feelings I want to have!

What do you enjoy? What can you do to discover new passions or rekindle past ones?  What have you secretly always wanted to try?

Employ your friends, purchase discounted classes or events on-line, think back to things you’ve enjoyed and take steps toward them.   No one cares how often you do it or how much it costs except you.  This is for you.  It’s time you make time for you. 

 

 

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Flying Ace Snoopy Quilt, 2012

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Backpacking, 2013

 
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Progressive muscle relaxation

I cannot express enough, the power and efficacy of progressive muscle relaxation. By and large, it is one of the best treatments for stress and anxiety.  For my clients struggling with chronic anxiety, difficulty falling asleep, and the stress of a chaotic lifestyle, I routinely recommend this type of meditation.  I encourage you to utilize this video as a way to sink into a calm mental place and enjoy the peace it brings.

Modern technology is quite a blessing in this regard. Gone are the days when you would have to purchase relaxation CD’s…using YouTube, it’s quite simple to find a guided meditation that works for you and your style.  Consider searching terms such as “progressive muscle relaxation”, “paced breathing”, loving kindness, and/or relaxation meditation.