Asking good questions

Asking good questions

by Michele Minehart, Community Educator

 

The Nobel prize-winning Jewish physicist Isidore Rabi once explained that his mother taught him how to be a scientist. ‘Every other child would come back from school and be asked, “What did you learn today?” But my mother used to ask, instead, “Izzy, did you ask a good question today?”’ (Source) There is divided opinion on if a person can ask a “bad” question, but it’s unanimous that some questions are better at bringing about thoughtful or rich responses.

If a person wants to get better at asking questions, specifically of herself, there might be a few practices that can help to grow in question-asking skill. For more thoughts on asking good questions, a podcast with journalist Dean Nelson on the power of inquiry and getting people – maybe even your own self – to open up.

  1. Start with Why. When confronted with a fact (or opinion), ask of it: why? The simple task of asking why rather than making assumptions will unearth a hearty soil for growing curiosity. Then move on to other investigative questions: What story do I hear? Is it true? What is my body trying to tell me? What can I accept in this moment? Who do I want to be in this moment?

  2. Don’t ask questions that will only be used to confirm a suspicion. Instead, find a way to allow the question to open the door to other observations and ideas. Instead of “Why didn’t you like dinner this evening?” ask, “What were you hoping for from your dinner this evening.” Assumptions hidden within questions narrow responses.

  3. Recognize that questions can accomplish both “information exchange” rather than “impression management.” HBR reports that spending more time asking questions actually lead to a more favorable experience of a person. Using questions reaches beyond simple information, paving the way for vulnerability – the seedbed of connection.

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Getting Curious

Getting Curious

by Michele Minehart, Community Educator

 

As the new year commences, many people use the fresh start to create new habits or work toward new goals. At Mind Body Health Associates, we want to support you in those endeavors. One element we believe can help sustain long-term growth and creation of healthy lifestyles is to arrive at any point of change with a spirit of curiosity, rather than approaching yourself with shame, fear, dread, or relying on inner strength and willpower.

This year the Mind Body Health Associates team is asking, what would happen if you approached your habits and lifestyle less with a spirit of judgment and more of one filled with curiosity?

The “sober curious” movement is gaining attention in mainstream media (like NPR and The Guardian) for its generous approach to leaving behind alcohol – a common resolution is to “drink less”. For many in recovery, the decision to get sober was one of life and death; the consequences of alcohol or drug use would take them down a path of complete destruction. For this reason, groups such as AA have been valuable resources for maintaining a path to sobriety and Landon Dunn, LISW, LICDC makes a regular practice of referring individuals to these programs. But for some people, they may not feel like they have a life and death problem with substances but they might also be hearing their inner voice prompt them to pay attention to consumption.

The sober curious approach simply says, what if you were to get curious about your relationship to alcohol? What if you didn’t make a decision today to abstain for the rest of your life, but rather gave space and time to explore the issue at hand? And when you remove the element of judgment for your personal response, you can keep shame at bay when you notice something that doesn’t fit with your personal values.

The sober curious approach can apply to many facets of life, one we’ll just call curiosity. You can be sugar curious, movement curious, even relationally curious.

  • What might it look like and feel like to take a break from sugar?
  • How might my body respond to different movement modalities?
  • What could our friendship look like if we became more intentional about how we spent our time together?
  • What would happen to our marriage if we shared a 5-second kiss each day?
  • What are my feelings about my daily work beyond measurements of “success”?

Here’s to a great year that asks questions of the bigger picture of what it means to live intentionally and getting curious about what a better life might look like.

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New Eating Habits for Kids

New Eating Habits for Kids

Transitioning Toward Nutrition

 

As the year progresses, the resolution to continue to move toward nutrition in family meals can start to wane. Rather than only inspiration, consider new habits to help carry your intentions. Therapist Holly Schweitzer Dunn, LISW, works specifically with individuals on food and body related issues and knows the benefit to keeping the body running on nutrient-dense foods while not approaching food in a way that creates a mind of “good foods” and “bad foods.” Instead, creating baseline healthy habits will help children grow into more adventurous and well-rounded eaters that listen and honor their body.

1. Start small:  add a spinach salad with dinner, put out cut veggies with other after school snacks
2.  Eat the rainbow:  This is a quick and easy reference to ensuring you get a full variety of nutrients every day. Make sure that your meals have color.
3.  Smoothies:  Easy ways to pack in veggies and fruits throughout the day.  Breakfast smoothies are portable (can drink them in the car on the way to school) and tasty enough for picky eaters.  Using whole milk (Probst Farm is a great source!) and honey makes a creamy, thick drink that tastes like a milkshake.  Throw in a handful of spinach and you get a serving of veggies that can not be tasted in the final product.
  • Milk, frozen mixed berries, honey, and hemp seed
  • Milk, frozen banana, peanut butter, cocoa powder and chia seed
  • Milk, frozen peaches and mango, yogurt, mint, honey, hemp seed
  • Milk, frozen strawberries, peaches and bananas, chia seed
4.  Use a food processor to help “hide” veggies in the food you typically cook.  Finely processing carrots, celery, zuchinni, onion, and squash as a base to tomato sauce, soup and casseroles thickens them and adds lots of important nutrients to recipes.
5.  Eat real food.  This means no artificial sweeteners, diet or low calorie, shelf stable items. Author Michael Pollen says that real food is that which your great-grandparents would recognize as foods. (They probably wouldn’t know what Cheez Wiz is).  If fresh veggies are too pricey or hard to manage, use frozen instead of canned as frozen are picked at the peak of freshness and maintain more of their nutritional value.
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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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