Holiday Joy

Holiday Joy

Between Hallmark movies and the constant stream of All I Need for Christmas is You, it’s easy to believe that everyone around us is having a jolly time in the month of December. But this is a socially reinforced construct. For those who regularly sit to either side of the emotional spectrum, these messages can make us feel shame or guilt for not wanting to fa la la la la our way through the day.  Our emotions do not simply change to happy during the four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Expecting ourselves to feel joyful regardless of what else is going on in our lives is a sure-fire way to feel guilty, ashamed and “not enough” throughout the holiday season.

Instead, being open to all the feelings that accompany this time of year is a key to feeling balance and self acceptance. Remember, the one guarantee in life is that things will change. Our positive feelings will change… and so will our distressing feelings. It can feel scary when we think something is permanent when it is really temporary. We can get through temporary things- distressing feelings included.

Try this self-talk technique to help re-center during the holiday season:
“I am here. I am safe. I am.”

The holidays do not need to be stressful. When we re-center back to what is important to us, we stabilize. If a holiday dinner with family is the most important thing to you, put the majority of your energy into that and not towards the things that distract you. If traveling to be with loved ones makes the top of the list, focus your energies on this rather than on gifts or decorating. It is when our energy output aligns with our values and priorities that we feel whole.

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Mindful Gifting

Mindful Gifting

Mindful Gifting

As the season of giving draws closer, we encourage folks not to let the pull of constant consumerism to take over, but to rather intentionally give to loved ones from a place of gratitude. Therapist Holly Schweitzer Dunn compiled a list of options of thoughtful yet classical gifts that pay attention to how the product was made, arrives, and serves the good of humankind. We also asked other MBHA team members to share their favorite way of gifting thoughtfully. 

Give Hope: Eau de Parfum. A beautiful act of embodying an ideal every day!

Get Out of My Head: Inspiration for Overthinkers in an Anxious World by Meredith Arthur, friend of Landon & Holly and founder of the mental health platform Beautiful Voyager.  This book is written from her experiences with anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and offers real-life strategies to help calm the mind and ride the wave of anxiety without getting taken under.

Red Vegan Snakeskin Hollywood Bag: a personal favorite on Holly’s list this year, made with mindfulness of our animal friends.

FW19 Tote Project: 10% of the gross profits from this collection are donated to Two Wings to support survivors of human trafficking in the US.

Clutch 4 Oil Pack: B3 Gives Back is donating 10% of profits from the sale of the Clutch 4 Oil Pack to the Women’s Independence Scholarship Program, Inc. (WISP). The gift of radiant skin with a social conscience.

Hair Despair: Sometimes you just need a reboot. Save Me From’s mission is to create wellness-boosting, sophisticated and powerful personal care products that empower all people to find purpose, realize their potential and know they have the power to accomplish greatness.

Looking to do more good internationally with your giving? Michele’s friend runs an Ohio-based retail & online shop, Pachamama’s Market which sells fair trade, eco-friendly and handmade items. Buying from a local retailer that guarantees fair wages for international suppliers is a win for everyone! Michele’s absolute favorite is the Amazon basket collection. There’s free shipping for orders over $50 until December 31st (in the continental US). Similarly, Ten Thousand Villages in Bluffton runs a similar concept store for you to browse.

Receptionist Michelle Cheney loves to think creatively and locally for her giving. She frequents for unique items to repurpose, such as an old fashioned saw she found and then painted with the logo of the lumberyard where her father spent his career.

Andrea, the office manager loves experiential giving, especially close to home. Her favorite gift is a pair of tickets to the Marathon Performing Arts Center coupled with a gift certificate for a downtown eatery like Rosilli’s.

Therapist Rachel Tincher loves to share her gift of words, regularly penning letters or cards for her family members. A beautiful card, poem or expression of love can be as effective as the right present. (Don’t have the right words at the right time? Emily McDowell Studios has an amazing collection of cards to keep on hand for just that occasion.) 

 

 

 

 

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Supporting our Vets

Supporting our Vets

Our annual practice of honoring Veterans each November reaches far past closing the post office. While it’s great to acknowledge the efforts of our military past and present via a blanket Facebook post, we can also use this day to expand our understanding of a culture and way of life that we’re not familiar because we lack shared experience.

Like most trauma, our Vets may return home from combat with the hallmark after-effects of poor sleep, recurring nightmares, and a highly-sensitive fight or flight response to seemingly everyday noises or incidences. The general public could learn more about how previous experiences travel home through the body and the brain so we could each be more aware.

Therapist Robin Walters-Powell treats Veterans who have returned to civilian life. She finds one of the more un-talked about repercussions this population of people experiences in homecoming is a challenged sense of belonging and value. Our military does a tremendous job of training its recruits to follow command, put the needs of the troop as the priority, and to execute with precision. Once our soldiers return to civilian life, our highly individualized approach to everyday living can become an overwhelming hurdle to connecting to loved ones or the community at large.

Our service individuals desire connection to society,  yet often our society lacks the language or culture that they’ve been trained to operate. Of course, a lack of shared experience – especially in regards to oversees tours and active duty – poses a large barrier to connection: civilians can only imagine or lean on Hollywood’s renditions of battle. With the lack of experience often comes lack of understanding and even compassion to the fact that these experiences have shaped the way our military professionals see and understand the world. Even in non-combat Vets, the structure provided in their years of experience, such as the practice operating based on given orders, feels foreign to the ways of American business and work.

So how can our community truly honor Veterans this November? Robin offers a few suggestions:

  • Recognize that the way a service person sees the world is not the same way you see the world. Everyone’s worldview is based upon experience and the military experience is different but neither wrong nor bad.
  • Affirm the contributions of Veterans and the way they benefit the group at large. Speak to the specific ways that their presence makes life better for those around them.
  • Hire our highly-skilled Vets for jobs that require training in specific areas. The military trains these individuals for a wide range of duties that will serve our community beyond enlistment.
  • Support local agencies designed to connect former military with other military individuals. FOCUS in Findlay offers a Battle Buddies program to foster support and mentoring between military individuals in civilian life.
  • Listen with patience without intent to change or correct. Validate past experiences and help them find healthy ways to use those experiences in the community.

 

To consider expanding your understanding, Robin recommends the work of Sebastian Junger, such as his book Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging or any of his series of TedTalks.

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What you can, when you can

What you can, when you can

For some folks, creating a gym routine is a natural and enjoyable part of their lifestyle. It’s helpful for maintaining and even expanding fitness levels through cardio work or lifting weights. Our own Andrea Clements, Office Manager, loves her habit of visiting Anytime Fitness for sessions on the elliptical and utilizing a lifting regimen. 

However, therapist Holly Schweitzer Dunn finds this form of exercise less than exciting. “Anyone who knows me knows that I strongly dislike working out. Seeing people run nowhere on treadmills seems like the personification of depression and hopelessness. Hearing grunts and groans as men and women max out their muscles to the point of damage seems counterintuitive. I believe fitness should be a regular part of a person’s life, done with ease and joy rather than suffering.”

It seems there are others who agree with her. 

Olga Khazan writes for The Atlantic: “In the approach’s slow simplicity, it could be a more sustainable way to exercise…doing whatever physical activity you can whenever it’s convenient is still a decent way to burn a few calories and feel less sedentary. An exercise strategy intended for Navy SEALs is actually perfect for everyday cubicle dwellers.

“But in a way, it fits with a broader cultural trend of embracing imperfection and simply trying one’s best. Americans’ stressed-out lives have given rise to a new philosophy in which we are, essentially, encouraged to admit defeat on certain things (spotless kitchens, impeccable pecs, and so forth). Our schedules won’t ease up on us, the thinking goes, so maybe we should ease up on ourselves.”

For those who are trying to integrate movement into their everyday lifestyle, perhaps this more natural approach – what you can, when you can – will indeed “grease the groove” for your brain and your body to adapt to newer ranges of motion or added strength. Exercise then becomes not “one more thing to do” but a way of living mindfully with your body.  

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Can I get a witness?

Can I get a witness?

“When you’re anxious and you need encouragement not direction.” 

This was the realization of one of Holly’s clients, whom we’ll call Linda, one day while retelling a story of a panic attack. She shared how her boyfriend had been supportive, recognizing her distress. “I know what to do: I need to calm down, I need to breathe…. What I need him to do is witness and walk through it with me.” 

So, how do we become witnesses for those around us in the midst of anxiety, fear, or simply a bad day? All you have to do is listen and tell them why it makes sense. Try adding these to your routine vocabulary: 

  • That sounds hard.
  • It makes sense you would feel that way.
  • I hear what you’re saying.
  • That was a tough position, you were in a tough place.
  • There sure is a lot of emotion connected to this.
  • This is complicated.
  • No wonder you feel this way. 
  • I’m listening.
Perhaps a friend or loved one is experiencing something irrational, but rationality doesn’t need to take the lead in your attempts to be supportive. Begin by simply validating and acknowledging the emotion they’re experiencing. You don’t have to agree to show empathy. 

 

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You’re Shoulding All Over the Place

You’re Shoulding All Over the Place

For all of our therapists, a red flag of overusing the judgment faculty part of the brain is using the word “should.” A judge is someone who divides, decides, casts an opinion or makes a decision about a situation. It renders a Should: this person Should not have done this. It divides an experience into camps of right and wrong, and a judge sits above that situation.

It’s human nature to give thought to past situations that didn’t go as desired. What could we have done differently? How should we have thought about this before? These are human questions. And they can be useful if considered in a way that says, “now, I have a choice” and move from a place of intention rather than reaction. An element of discernment is healthy and normal.

However, discernment turns to judgment when you attach shame to it. When someone tells about an experience and inserts multiple Shoulds, we hear the brain trying to find power when it was powerless. The Should, a core negative belief, is evidence of some self-blame. If the Shoulds keep you up at night about either past or potential future situations, it becomes a potential source of anxiety or depression, or a myriad of other mental health concerns. It can feed a habit of the brain constantly seeking danger, as blame is often evidence of the brain’s way of labeling a threat.

When you find yourself Shoulding, here are a few things you can do:

  1. Personalize it: take it out of what “a good person” would do; there might not be a “right” way to handle your situation.
  2. Ask yourself what you want and/or what you need.
  3. Notice if there is a place that needs the energy of forgiveness – acknowledge any mistakes by yourself or others, and spend a few moments reflecting on the human propensity to mess up.
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