Posts Tagged empowerment


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World Mental Health Day 2018

World Mental Health Day 2018

October 10th was World Mental Health Day. In solidarity, people all over social media posted about their mental health experiences, spreading awareness, and working towards stopping stigma. But how do you help a person who is experiencing a mental illness? That’s where recovery comes into play.

 

WMHD blog 3More commonly than you would think, the definition of recovery is misconstrued. People think that recovery is a one-time event but really, recovery doesn’t have an end. Rather, recovery is the continuous process of improving one’s health. The goal is to live a healthier and more fulfilling life. The recovery journey is unique to each person. People will have achievements and setbacks in their recovery, but it’s all part of the process. That’s why it’s important to celebrate the progress that people make in their recovery.

 

It’s also very important to spread awareness and educate everyone about the process of recovery. That’s why we talk about recovery for not one, but two months:

 

The month of September focuses on substance use while October focuses more on mental health. Both substance use and mental health recovery maintain that recovery is an ongoing process, however substance use recovery emphasizes harm reduction and decreasing or eliminating substance use while mental health recovery aims to reduce or eliminate symptoms. This can be best achieved through a combination of medication, therapy, and rehabilitation. Just like any other illness, mental and substance use disorders can be reoccurring. That’s why it’s important to know that recovery is ongoing. Recovery is all about making connections, having hope, establishing a strong sense of self, finding meaning or purpose in what you’re doing, and being empowered. These tenants of recovery serve as a foundation for living a higher quality and healthier life.

 

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The fact that September and October are so focused on recovery gives us the opportunity to start discussions about mental health and substance use. It’s a reminder that these topics need to be talked about. Staying silent doesn’t help; stigma hurts everyone. There’s so much stigma surrounding substance use and mental health. People think that people who are experiencing substance use disorders and mental illness choose to live this way. They take the person out of the equation and use stigmatizing language like “crazy” and “junkie”, not acknowledging that whatever place these people may be in their recovery journey, they are still people-first. If we can all just make one change in our lives, how about using more thoughtful language? Take stigmatizing language out of your vocabulary and instead say “person experiencing bipolar disorder” or “person experiencing a substance use disorder.”

 

WMHD blog 4            Another important way we can help others in their recovery journey is by reaching out. If you see someone who seems socially disconnected, ask him/her how he/she is doing. These simple words can have a major impact. Isolation makes people more stressed, serving to further negatively impact people’s health. By connecting with others, we can instead help them build resiliency, the ability to cope with and adapt to challenges and change. Resilient people have a good skillset to help them deal with stress and have the motivation to begin or continue the process of recovery. Because of this, building resiliency can be the turning point in someone’s recovery.

 

Helping other people recover is what spreading awareness is all about. Whether someone is experiencing substance use disorder, mental illness, or a combination of the two, talking about not just the illness but about recovery can make a significant difference. So, reach out to someone you know and start a conversation about recovery today.

 

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Written by Leah, intern

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Valentine's Day: Let's Talk about Self-Love

Valentine's Day: Let's Talk about Self-Love

“Accept your past without regret, handle your present with confidence, and face your future without fear.” – Unknown

 


 

With all the hustle bustle of Valentine’s Day comes depressed feelings and anxiety for many. Too often, we define ourselves by who we are in a relationship with, who our friends are, the thoughts of ‘Keeping Up with the Jones’s,’ so-to-speak. And this ‘culture of perfectionism’ and social media?! It’s no wonder it’s hard to sort everything out. And there’s different kinds of love: romantic love, friendship…but there’s also another important kind: self-love.

It can be hard to talk about ourselves favorably. Sometimes we think about things we’ve done and feel guilt or shame, we judge ourselves harshly and it turns into feelings of failure and low self-worth. Sometimes it’s easier to hold hope for others instead-but it’s important to remember to take care of ourselves! Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy, with self-criticism and disapproval, but would you say those things to a friend? Of course not! Treat yourself the way you treat those you care about! And that starts with having self-compassion.

What is self-2-14-17 Self-love blog 1compassion? In the simplest terms, self-compassion means being kind to yourself, being gentle and supportive, and establishing a positive voice that can reason with you when you’re upset or having feelings of self-doubt. Kristin Neff, PhD, says we need to recognize the situation, resist negative thoughts, humanize yourself through empathic language, and commit to positive self-talk. You are not your experiences, your mental illness, or your past and there is no such thing as normal! Ese Moynihan-Ejaife, LMHC, reminds us that emotions are normal and important and although we don’t enjoy the ‘bad feelings’ as much as the pleasant ones, each emotion can provide a important lesson and challenges your preconceived notions about yourself in order to change you in a good way!

Self-compassion is hard! It’s definitely not easy, but it’s worth it. Self-criticism can lead to a weakened 2-14-17 Self-love blog 4immune system, relationship and motivation issues, and increased symptoms of depression. But self-kindess is an important skill for all of us to learn and use daily. Kim Fredrickson says: ‘It’s a process and it takes a while to learn, but it’s worth every effort. It changes you in a positive way and it lasts a lifetime.’

So how do you turn your inner critic into a compassionate friend and give yourself a break? Let’s start with some positive affirmations. Affirmations are statements of support and encouragement that can help get you through tough times and refocus your energy in a positive direction. Muhammad Ali said that ‘it’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.’ Everyone probably has a few phrases that mean a lot to them, but here’s some to get you started:

Just 2-14-17 Self-love blog 2keep swimming… (Finding Nemo)
-I am strong. I am worthy. I am loved. I am enough.
-Be brave. Stay strong.
You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. (Winnie the Pooh)
-I forgive myself and set myself free.
-What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
You are capable of amazing things.
-If you believe in yourself, anything is possible. (Miley Cyrus)
-Everything will be okay in the end. If it is not okay, it is not the end.
-Confidence comes from what I feel about myself. (Demi Lovato)
You are stronger than your circumstances.

Remember, self-love is not narcissistic or self-indulgent; it is an important component of mental health! Empower yourself: focus on building self-respect and allow yourself space to make mistakes, learn, and grow. You are you! It’s okay to not be okay! It’s okay to be whoever you are! You’re never alone!

Self-love is crucial because your external world will reflect how you feel about yourself. Self-love also gives you a safety net to take risks and go after your dreams, because you know that no matter what the outcome, you’ll be OK — your self-worth is not on the line.

In closing, LOVE YOURSELF!  Love doesn’t come once a year-it comes every day with how you treat yourself and how you share the joys of life with those important to you! Don’t give up!

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For more information, check out Kim Fredrickson’s book, Give Yourself a Break: Turning Your Inner Critic into a Compassionate Friend.

Information compiled from Self-Compassion: The Kindess Cure by Robin Flanigan in Esperanza magazine and The Little-Known Secret to Real Self-Love by Elyse Santilli for The Huffington Post. Image credits to the Sad Ghost Club, Danyelle Hooks, and Alexandra’s Sunset Photography.

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