Loving You

Think of the following questions and rank on a scale of difficulty from 1-10, 1 being simple and 10 being most difficult in that you may not be able to complete it.

  • Name 10 things you love about yourself.
  • Name 10 things you love about yourself physically.
  • Name 10 things you dislike about yourself.
  • Name 10 things you dislike about yourself physically.

Which one scored the lowest on the 1-10 scale?  Which one scored the highest?

 

While I hope each and every one of you finds they are more easily able to identify self loving characteristics…more often than not people are quickly able to identify traits or characteristics they dislike about themselves.  How sad is that?!  It is so easy to dwell on what we don’t like, what is not good, and what doesn’t make us happy that we end up never thinking about the things we love and the positive that comes with it!

I challenge you to find one thing you love about yourself and write it down, starting today!  Complete this task every day – write it in a book, in your planner, or on a sticky you can put somewhere you see it every day!  Here…I’ll get everyone started!

 

 

Living In the Shadows

As I sat here in the early morning light I decided to read through some of my previous posts. As I had already thought about my Saturday and all the things I “needed to do”, I came across this post and it seemed just perfect! It is a great reminder to just SLOW DOWN sometimes…

Liz DeFinnis

Do you ever feel like you are just living in the shadows?  Catching a glimpse of sunlight you can find in between the shade provided by the trees on a sunny day?  Sure, an open street with only a few trees here or there may provide full exposure to the sunlight…allowing you to soak up the suns energy…but what about those very shady tree lined streets?  You stay cool and keep moving faster as you feel great walking in the shadows cast down by the trees!  They are shielding you from the suns harsh rays on a hot, sunny day. As you scurry from shadow to shadow on that walk to hurry through the spots where you feel the suns heat, have you ever thought about what you may be missing through the rush?

Imagine that in one of those sunny areas a beautiful flower is creeping up through a…

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Perception of Perfectionism

There is no surprise when I say we are all attempting to survive a world of faux perfectionism.  Twenty years ago this was visible in media as we knew it at that time – movies, magazines, television.  Today, it is in our face day in and day out when we look at social media.

The Perfect Parent

Picture perfect viewpoints of a baby and their three-year-old sibling giving them hugs and kisses in a picture perfect background of a home.  There are not pictures posted of that same three-year-old having a complete 15 minute meltdown just minutes before the picture because they did not get the blue colored plate they wanted when they were served lunch!!

The Perfect Couple

We all know these posts!  The pictures of happy, loving couples showing each other how much they mean to one another through a fancy picture kissing, eating dinner, at a concert, etc.  Maybe even one of those posts that thanks the significant other for being such an amazing support by       (fill in the blank)    .

Perception is Everything

Is it nice that we have social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. to show our beautiful families, loving relationships, successful moments in time?  ABSOLUTELY!!!  It can be a great outlet and allows many people to stay in touch with friends and family that we may otherwise lose contact with due to the crazy busy lives we all live!

Unfortunately, many of us have a distorted ability when it comes to perceiving the posts of other individuals on these types of sites.  Instead of seeing the positive picture as a snapshot in time in that other individual’s crazy life we begin see that EVERYONE is painting a picture of their amazing life!  The Pinterest happy parent doing crafts for each an every holiday, the loving husband expressing his love through a trail of rose petals in the house to a nice large bouquet of flowers, the little kids posing “perfectly” for a “selfie” during an especially adorable play time activity…the list goes on!  The thing is, when we should be feeling happy for that individual who likely has been through a moment of stress in time, as we all go through quite frequently, it is easy to being to feel envy.  Envy for the picture perfect life we are perceiving them to have by looking at that one snapshot in time!

In a way, we are being judgmental and biased in how we view that individual.  Unfortunately though when we scroll through our social media site of choice it is easy to get caught up in the long list of “picture perfect” snapshots we see!  Rarely, do we see something that makes us think “Oh, wow!  Their house is messy just like mine!  It is nice to see they live in their house as well!”.

Changing Our Perception

Changing our perception of others is one of the healthiest things we can do for our own well-being!  There is nothing wrong with what others are sharing, as long as we do not take it for face value!  We must be able to see the good in our own life, build our own story of how we perceive ourselves – and in turn realize we also have those “picture perfect” moments in time!  We also are present for the tantrums, fights, difficult financial tensions, losses, and the millions of other stressful, emotional situations that can present themselves as a part of every day life.  The key is to be kind, be present, and be aware of our perception of happiness!  Like the old saying goes, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”….but in this case happiness is in the mind of the perceiver.  Be careful you take in the right message and remain aware of your own happiness!  Happiness is not something you can be given, have, or find…it is a state of mind you must be open to achieving and perceiving!

Individualized Approach to Decreasing Stress and Anxiety

Decreasing Stress and Anxiety

Stress is something we all experience.  Stress can be a result of a short-term issue or a long-term situation.  Long-term stress can cause numerous negative emotional and physical outcomes.  Dealing with stress for an extended period of time makes our body think it is in a dangerous fight or flight situation, triggering an unnecessary fight or flight response from the sympathetic system.  This can result in decreased immunity, digestive issues, sleep disruption, depression, anxiety, and reproductive system complications (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], nd).  

Enough of all that complicated medical talk!  More importantly…what triggers all this stress we experience!?  Ahhh…so many things!  The majority of the time it is exactly that…we are trying to do so many things!  In a single day many people wear so many different hats…taking on a variety of roles!  A single person may take on anywhere from 3-20 roles a day!  For example, I am a mother, spouse, coworker, employee/worker, and teacher all before 9am!  Fulfilling all of those rules requires me to take on a different persona, often many different ones at a single time!  This role demand, aka responsibility, of an average day is typical for many people and can be the trigger for stress!  

Identifying healthy coping methods for decreasing stress and anxiety is key to avoiding the emotional and physical outcomes of chronic stress.  There are so many great resources for healthy coping out there; however, unless an individual takes the time to self-reflect and understand the root cause of the chronic stress it is difficult to discover a successful coping strategy!  Coping strategies are not a one-size-fits-all type of approach to dealing with stress!  That is why finding an individualized approach to decreasing your stress and anxiety is so important!  Signing up for a consultation with Liz DeFinnis is a great start to tackling that crushing feeling of being overwhelmed!  

References

National Institute of Mental Health. (nd). 5 Things You Should Know About Stress. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml

Power of Mindset

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.  When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” 

~Buddha~


 

The power of our mindset is a concept that has been discussed more in recent psychological literature; however, it is not a new concept as Buddha had taught many related ideas.  According to Buddha, our thoughts shape who we are and who we will become, making it very important to consider our current mindset as it relates to our future goals.  Do you think and act like the person you want to be?  Is the person you think and act like the person that will achieve the dreams for your future?

In our society, our surroundings have slowly created a more negative overall mindset.  There are many contributing factors to this negative mindset including the impact of sharing our lives on social media, the stress of living in such a fast paced world, and even the constant connection to the world through media and electronics.  Based on Buddha’s teachings, over time this negative mindset may lead to negative outcomes.  If a pure mind creates a joy that follows us like a shadow that never leaves, what could be the potential outcome of having a negative mind?

Determining the impact of a negative mindset is not the important factor, but instead to discover if you have a negative mindset.  If indeed you do have a negative focused mindset, the next step is to work on shaping it to become more positive and pure in nature.  Self awareness through self reflection can be one of the best methods of keeping our mindset in check.  To truly self reflect, there are a variety of different approaches that can be utilized either individually or in conjunction such as meditation, journaling, and social media sabbaticals.

Finding the best method and guide to reshape our thoughts to achieve a positive mindset is vital.  Seeking individual based professional coaching services may be the best approach to determining the most appropriate individual path for positivity.

Mind Free to Wander

A wandering path appears to provide a less than opportune method of traveling.  A path that requires twists and turns takes more time and effort to get from point A to point B.  A straight line is the more efficient method of travel.  So, what is the best method?  

A winding body of water such as a river or stream appears to wind, twist, and turn in many directions with little effort.  At times it almost looks peaceful as it runs in the direction it has since carved through the land.  Despite the peaceful flow, there was a time during the creation of the path, that the water had to work hard to create a way to get from the origin to the destination.  The work put forth creates a path of easy, peaceful flow for the remaining time of the flowing water’s existence.  

In life, there are many approaches to building a lifestyle of optimal design for each individual.  The design itself is even unique, to what each individual desires to have as a key component to success.  This makes a holistic, individualized approach to lifestyle design optimal for ensuring a peaceful flow throughout the span of life.  

Our society’s current lifestyle of rushing and fixing issues after they have occurred is not conducive to creating a path of peaceful travel.  Supporting wellness and preventing issues from developing through optimization of physical, time, and emotional balance is the key to inner peace.  The path of life will certainly wind, twist, and turn with the presence of many large and small obstacles along the way; however, setting out on the journey without a peaceful flow will fill the journey with turmoil.  Providing the mind time to wander, dream, and feel at peace through a foundation of balance will provide the best method for traveling on the path of life.  

Happy Birthday to Me

Happy birthday to me…Happy birthday to me!  Happy birthday dear meeeee….Happy birthday to me!  

Yes…I just sang MYSELF happy birthday!  What a wonderful day….it has always been (and likely always will be) my favorite holiday!  Does that sound a little selfish?  Yes…maybe.  But it is the truth and we are all about truth here!  

While many people focus on the negative fact that a birthday results in adding another year, I choose to see it more as gaining an additional year of wisdom, experiences, and spreading love. Every day, month, year is full of opportunities to learn and be better than we ever thought we could be!  So I say, embrace that! Aim to do those things you never thought were possible, because if you don’t try then they certainly never will be possible!  

The years seem to fly by, but I work to make the most of each and every day— making the days worth it and the years successful in the process.  As I enter my 32 year, I can truly say I feel I have made the valiant effort to make the most out of each and every day for at least the last few years.  

Prior to a few years ago, I would say my focus was less on positivity and making the most of things and more on being critical.  Making the mindful shift to positive thinking and a positive approach in life has most certainly made a huge impact on all aspects of my life.  I have found myself experiencing more success and feeling less stress and anxiety when things may not necessarily go the way I “planned” for them to play out!  Writing goals and having aspirations is a huge part of achieving success, but a positive mindset and open mind about the plan to achieve those goals and aspirations can make the difference in your quality of life!  

Over the past five years, I have worked and worked to achieve many of my life aspirations.  While it began five years ago, when I made a vision board 3 years ago it sparked the true achievement of my goals!  When revisiting the vision board just one year later many of my goals were achieved!  Just putting my goals out there, writing them down and making them real helped guide me to make the right steps in order to make things happen!  Since that time, I feel like I have been unstoppable!  

Today is my birthday…and I am so excited to say I am also officially only a few days away from completing my PhD!  This journey to earn my degree has been long and painful at times, but the learning experience along the way has completely been worth it!  I know keeping my mindset positive and working toward all of my goals will keep me on the path for future success in building my blog, writing a book, and becoming published in the academic realm.  I look forward to see what my future brings as I continue pursuing my dreams! 

The Need for Prevention in Mental Health

 

Occupational therapy began when it was identified that people could heal the mind with the use of their hands in daily activities.  Since the profession of OT was formally established in 1917, advancements in many areas of the field have occurred.  Unfortunately, financial changes within the medical care system have created significant cutbacks on the way occupational therapists are able to provide services, impacting many of our clients in need.  One population that has significantly been impacted by these changes is individuals in need of mental health support. 

There are so many things changing in our world in the last 2 decades.  It seems all moments are fleeting and everything is moving so fast.  Increased issues within the realm mental health have also climbed with these fast paced societal changes.  In an article released by the CDC, suicide rates have been rising to the point that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and continues to climb in frequency (CDC, 2018).  To make this statistic a little more concrete, almost 45,000 Americans ages 10 and over died by suicide in the year 2016 (CDC, 2018).  Think about that number right there!  There were most certainly 9 other illnesses that lead to death more frequently than suicide in 2016, but those numbers are hard to swallow when we think about the individuals being lost.  They were mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, significant other’s, children, teachers, doctors, lawyers, housewives…the list could go on forever.  They were not a number, but those 45,000 people were PEOPLE first!  Although suicide is “just” number 10 on the list the cause of death in 2016, it was not on the top 10 list just 10 years ago in 2006.  

The CDC is working to determine the linked causes of suicide and to implement a comprehensive approach to addressing this rising issue in America.  It was noted in an article published by the CDC just days after the reported suicide of Kate Spade that suicide is not typically caused by a single factor.  Currently, suicide prevention is focused on individuals that are noted to be at risk for suicide, particularly those with an identified mental health condition.  Unfortunately, the CDC noted that more than half of the people that die by suicide do not have a diagnosed mental health condition.  Other circumstances led to emotional stress such as relationship issues, substance misuse, physical health problems, and personal stresses related to money and housing contribute to an individual’s risk for suicide (CDC, 2018).  If prevention of suicide is only aimed at the individuals with an identified mental health disorder, then we still would have lost 22,500 people unexpectedly to suicide in 2016.  So, the question lies in what we can do to address this issue from a prevention standpoint that reaches all people that could potentially be struggling with mental health issues and possible suicidal ideations behind closed doors.  

Balance was identified as a major component related to mental health issues, leading to development of stress and possible regular mental health symptoms (McKenzie, Patel, & Araya, 2004).  Balance is an equal proportion of various factors.  One could make a case for the fact that moderation in all areas would result in successful balance.  In our society, balance of occupations has become an afterthought.  Our lives are so busy and full of “things” we end up in autopilot, just trying to survive each day, year, and month.  Working toward achieving a balance of all occupations could provide a much needed opportunity to feel balanced internally, in turn preventing the development of distress and mental health symptoms.  These occupations that need balancing include self care, caring for others and our home, sleep, education, work, play, leisure, and social participation.  

Occupational therapists are the health care provider most equipped to work on addressing the important need of balancing occupations.  Helping individuals already experiencing issues is most definitely important; however, imagine if health care provided an opportunity to prevent the start of these issues!  If occupational therapy services could be provided to all on a regular basis, along the lines of going for an annual check up at the family doctor, it could promote mental health and overall wellness.  Too often we address issues after the fact, rather than preventing the issues from developing in the first place!  Prevention in the end would be cheaper and promote improved overall outcomes, therefore resulting in improved quality of life for all individuals!  

References

CDC. (2018, June 7). Suicide rates rising across the U.S. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0607-suicide-prevention.html

McKenzie, K., Patel, V., & Araya, R. (2004). Learning from low income countries: Mental health. British Medical Journal, 329(7475), 1138-1140.

2017 recap…2018 intentions

 

 

It is crazy to think I have taken a sabbatical from writing for almost an entire year!  Although so many amazing things were in the works during this time…I miss the writing and reflection that comes with it!

In 2017, I planned a year of hard work that would result in success.  Simplifying life, renewing health, and following my heart and dreams.  We managed to move twice…yes TWICE in 2017.  The second move was a relocation to Palm Bay, FL.  This was a three and a half hour move away from our initial Florida home in Lake City.  Although the move was sparked by landing my dream job teaching full time, it meant leaving our Lake City family.  This decision did not come lightly, but was ultimately the opportunity of a lifetime we could not pass up!

There is just something about writing down the plans for a year and having the opportunity to look back on them a year later!  Seeing what I had planned for 2017 I can say some things were a complete success…while others will still remain a focus for 2018!

Last year I wrote:

“2017 will be a year of hard work and success.  Life will be more busy, but simpler in many ways.  Simplifying every day, week, month, and ultimately the year by decluttering, organizing, and planning.  In the past, just doing these three things would lead to stress and anxiety…but not anymore!  Letting go is now going to be a daily habit.  As hard as it can be sometimes, it also gives a fantastic feeling of accomplishment!”

I truly plan to continue this in 2018!  Our new home has a fantastic 1200 square feet…meaning organization is the ONLY way to survive!  I still struggle with letting things go, but this needs to remain a focus in order to not drown in all of our “things”.  Experiencing moments and creating memories with my family is by far more important than collecting things!

My planner and goal writer are full this year and I cannot wait to pick back up and continue with my writing as a part of my personal goals for 2018!  This will be the year I officially complete my PhD and move forward with my professional goals with teaching.  My oldest “baby” will begin Kindergarten this year, so there will be so many exciting changes for us as a family!