Beyond the Couch

Beyond the Couch

Beyond the proverbial couch

 

When Landon Dunn meets a client for the first time and welcomes them into his office, he invites them to have a seat on the couch in his office. He then typically cracks a joke about the couch that seems so stereotypical. But to be honest, many clients find comfort in the familiarity of our office and the work that happens within the walls.

For the past week, Mind Body Health Associates has been operating away from that proverbial couch. For the safety of staff and clients we have held appointments virtually, utilizing a HIPPA-compliant platform to conduct video sessions with each of our therapists. As we moved this direction to elevate the priority of social distancing, we were concerned for both the quality and the quantity of the sessions. Would clients feel they could connect with their therapists authentically? Would we see a large number of cancelations? Would those who needed support make a priority of it while at a physical distance from the office?

What we experienced over the past week (the week that feels like a year, for many of us) has been the opposite of our fears. We’ve seen very few cancellations, and have felt the gratitude of our clients for making a safe means of connecting with our practitioners. Even more, where we expected deep anxiety and paralyzing fear, we found clients who were feeling positive, in large part, the interruption has provided the opportunity to feel grateful. Prior to the Coronovrus outbreak, these clients had developed skills and insights using mindfulness. Now, when the rest of the world feels anxious and unsure, these clients feel gratitude for their months or years of practice, as they are now the ones who can provide the wisdom of experience.

For example, one client has been working through traumatic experiences with pretty severe negative behaviors. But now she finds herself offering her coping skills to others by connecting online. By working through the process of healing to health, she has also found her voice and practiced bravery by sharing these skills  for managing the effects of stress and trauma on social media.

Each of the MBHA family members has expressed that while this new reality in which we find ourselves has presented numerous challenges and concerns, by and large our practice continues to feel more gratitude for its practitioners, office staff and most of all, clients, who continue to grow and learn to manage each moment as it arises.

The Unexpected Virtue of Anxiety

The Unexpected Virtue of Anxiety

by Holly Schweitzer Dunn, LISW

In a time where the whole world feels that nagging sense of worry and concern, we can take wisdom from those who have experience in this area: those with ongoing anxiety. Holly Schweitzer Dunn, LISW, has heard this three times already this week:  “Having anxiety has helped me know what to do during all this craziness.”

 
There is a lot we can learn from people with anxiety.  As one client said, “I’ve been preparing my whole life for this.”  People who manage their anxiety daily are well-equipped to handle their emotions during this coronavirus unrest.  This is important to remember:  You’ve got this.  We’ve got this.
 
Here are a few of the good reminders we’ve heard over the last few days:
  • Pausing to be in the moment makes all the difference.  It allows me to remember I am safe in this moment.
  • It is most helpful to focus on what is within my control.  How I act, how I think, what I do with my time- these are controlled by me.
  • Balancing out fear thoughts is key to feeling balanced and stable.
  • Challenging my irrational fears by focusing on what I know is true- based on the evidence around me- brings me back into safety.
  • Thoughts lead to feelings lead to behaviors- when I am in control of my thoughts I am in control of the rest of me.

Our clients with anxiety are showing us the importance of practicing mindfulness consistently. We build the skills of paying attention to thoughts, feelings and sensations when we’re not in moments of panic.  Then when bigger threats do arise, the skills to navigate the stress are more accessible to us.

 
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In Praise of Public Health

In Praise of Public Health

In Praise of Public Health

by Holly Schweitzer Dunn, LISW

As Landon and I walked early this morning the garbage collectors were already out and a police car drove by a few streets down.  I had a wave of gratitude wash over me.  How fortunate we are to live in a place where we don’t even think about these things under typical circumstances.  We know and trust  our neighborhoods will be patrolled, our garbage will be picked up, our pets won’t have rabies, our schools will be healthy places to send our children, our restaurants will be clean, our water safe to drink.  Our public servants do their jobs every day, rain or shine, behind the scenes so that we can live with little need to worry.  My mom, a life-long public servant, summed it up in a conversation we had years ago:  “Public health is working best when people don’t even notice it.”  Thank you to all who selflessly serve our communities.  In times like these it is necessary to come together with gratitude for everyone out there putting their safety on the line for the greater good.  Let’s all support them- not make it more difficult- by following their recommendations.  They are the experts.  

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Mindful Educators

Mindful Educators

Mindful Parenting Course

Mindful Educators:

 

Monday, June 15, 2020, 9 AM – 4:30 PM

At Toledo’s Wildwood Metropark Ward Pavillion 

Mindful Educators is a day-long retreat experience designed to help teachers return to the spark of joy that drew them into their profession so they can return to the classroom ready in heart and spirit. We will apply the concepts of mindfulness to your role as educator, providing tools for the mind and body that will help nurture your passion through the stressful challenges of teaching to the souls of our children.

Those who will most benefit from Mindful Educators are those who: 

  • See how the effects of trauma are changing our schools and neighborhoods,impacting the classroom experience for all students
  • Hear in the media and scholarly research about the effects of body-centered and mindfulness-based classroom interventions and want to experiment with them
  • Taste the bitterness of burnout and “helper’s fatigue” and wish to reconnect with a deeper sense of gratitude for their work
  • Feel as if they’ve tried varying methods of connecting with students yet feel some are still “unreachable.”

Mindful Educators is led by Holly Schweitzer Dunn, LISW – and facilitator of Mindful Parenting – along with Landon Dunn, LISW, LICDC, of Mind Body Health Associates. Holly, Landon, and the MBHA team have been working with educators for a collective 25+ years to help them learn to manage the stress that comes from the unique role of teacher. They will offer specific interventions and practices for educators to integrate into their lives, both personally and professionally, to help teachers reconnect with the sense of fulfillment of their work. 

Allow us to take care of you in the peaceful setting at Toledo’s Wildwood Metropark in the Ward Pavillion. You’ll receive a full day of therapeutic tools and interventions used by our therapists who regularly work with educators. Our approach integrates the body-centered practices with mindfulness to help aid relief from the physical manifestations of embodied stress. You’ll be guided in mindfulness exercises, including nature walks and time for solitude and reflection, along with an opportunity to explore yoga movement and breathwork. There will even be a chance to discuss how these personal practices can be translated into the classroom.

Don’t forget to bring your Yoga Mat or Pillow!

Cost and Registration Information:

Cost: Before April 1: $75 individual, $400 group of 6
Before May 15: $90 individual, $500 team of 6
Registation Options

Please complete the following registration form after completing your payment. Thank you! 

Screen addiction and kids

Screen addiction and kids

by Holly Schweizer Dunn, LISW

Mind Body Health Associates practices mental health and treatment with a strong awareness of the role of trauma, specifically how the developing body and brain absorb experiences that develop into patterns for surviving.  These patterns may or may not later serve us positively in our daily living.  For example, addiction behaviors can be “helpful” in numbing pain and avoiding the full impact of painful life experiences; however, addiction also disconnects us from loved ones, damages our bodies and relationships, and leads to drain on family and community. With one eye on this philosophy, we ask, What is the long term effect of screen exposure for kids? How will their bodies and brains adapt to these experiences and later in life seek them out in different ways?

We know for certain that the earlier repetitive behaviors start, the more likely they are to become compulsive or addictive behaviors.  This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics advises limited screen usage early in life.  Even kid-friendly screen access is highly stimulating and, therefore, highly addictive.

As with any addiction, it’s not simply the presence of a problem behavior, but the replacement of positive life experiences with addictive behaviors that becomes the concern. The more kids limit real life relationships and maximize screen-centric relationships, the less developed their social skills become.  Eye contact, reading body language, and directly seeing the impact of your words on others are essential parts of communication and relational development that are impacted by screen usage. The more time kids spend in sedentary situations with technology, the less time they will engage with movement and nature, two keys to overall mental wellbeing that can help kids as they grow.

Ideally, with early exposure comes early parental monitoring.  As parents expose kids to screens at early ages, parents must also start the monitoring and education from the beginning.  Kids are growing up knowing about electronic responsibility, impact on the brain, need for limits and balance (The Schweitzer Dunn rule of thumb is 1 hour of screen time each day and/or at least equal amounts of screen vs outside and movement time daily ).  Just as kids learn family values from day one and these become inherent, screen awareness and health does so as well.
 
For a deeper dive into the world of kids and screen addiction, enjoy this teaching by Joe Dispenza.
 

 

 

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Curiosity and learning

Curiosity and learning

by Michele Minehart, Community Educator

When it comes to brain development, researchers and teachers are both finding that one of the best ways for learning to happen is through the process of inquiry. 

First, the brain enjoys curiosity, which creates a natural positive feedback loop to learning. With curiosity leading the way, the hippocampus lights up, paving the way toward a pleasure-reward circuit, attaching a hit of “feel good” dopamine. 
That positive sensation leads to a greater desire to return to the function of learning again, as the brain has a habit of repeating what the body enjoys. 
Second, curiosity – perhaps beginning with a thoughtful question – to catch a child’s interest opens the mind to receive more information, even that which isn’t directly related to a lesson or topic of conversation. When inquiry begins from a safe space of curiosity, rather than a stress-driven state that emphasizes a success/failure dichotomy, the brain associates positive emotion in the memory, helping the information to be more easily recalled. 
So the next time your 4-year-old leads you down a long-strung series of questions about the sky, aerodynamics, and birds, you can recognize that the learning that she is absorbing through questions and conversation are leading her to a place of greater understanding, not to test your trivia abilities on the topic of aviation. 

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