• Strategies for Managing the Loss of a Loved One

    Strategies for Managing the Loss of a Loved One

    In the past 15 years or so I’ve had about 4 truly significant deaths in my family (or those I would consider like family). Every time I’ve experienced the loss of a loved one I’m grappled with questions like why them, why now, and why this way. I recognize that to some degree I will probably never get those questions answered, so in some way I have to find solace with their passing. Yet regardless of your belief system – the afterlife, heaven or reincarnation – accepting that you won’t be able to engage with your loved ones as you once knew them is difficult. So dealing with that sense of grief can be challenging.


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    Here are some coping skills that may help:

    1. Acknowledge and accept your feelings: It’s important to express your emotions and not bottle them up. It’s okay to feel sad, angry, or overwhelmed. Allow yourself to feel and express your emotions. This can include talking to someone, writing in a journal, or engaging in creative expression like art or music.
    2. Take care of yourself: Grief can take a toll on physical and emotional health, so it’s important to prioritize self-care. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating well. Self-care is crucial during this time.
    3. Reach out for support: Grief can be isolating, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Talk to friends, family, or a professional counselor about your feelings and memories of your loved one. You don’t have to go through this alone.
    4. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can help individuals stay present in the moment and manage overwhelming emotions. Try to stay present at the moment and focus on your breathing. This can help you feel more grounded and calm.
    5. Engage in activities you enjoy: Doing things you love, like reading, painting, or listening to music, can help distract you from your grief.
    6. Stay sober: Using alcohol or drugs during this confusing time is not a good idea. It can only make the process more difficult.
    7. Seek out a support group: Joining a group of people who are also grieving can provide a sense of community and understanding.

    Remember, grief is a process and there is no “right” way to grieve. Remember that healing takes time. Be patient and kind to yourself, and remember that it’s okay to ask for help when needed. Give yourself grace and seek out the support you need.

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  • Nurturing Your Mind, Body, and Soul Through Journaling

    I believe when most of us hear the word “diary” or “journal” we think about an emotional preteen/teen girl venting about her feelings and experiences in a book she keeps hidden from the rest of the world. As we’ve gotten older we now know that journals aren’t only for preteen girls. I hear some of my clients say “I don’t know where to start” or “I don’t know what to write in a journal”.

    To give some context, journaling is an effective method for self-reflection, personal development, and stress release. Writing down your thoughts, emotions, and experiences can help you achieve clarity, process unpleasant emotions, and get a deeper understanding of yourself. In this blog post, we’ll look at the advantages of journaling and offer some advice on how to get started.


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    The Advantages of Journaling

    Here are 5 specific ways journaling can be beneficial to you and your mental health:

    • Reduces Anxiety and Stress

    Writing about traumatic or stressful events has been found in studies to improve mental and physical health by reducing symptoms of anxiety and sadness, that you’re holding both in your mind and body. It can help you reduce tension and release pent-up feelings.

    • Improves Self-Awareness

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    • Enhances Creativity

    Journaling can be an excellent method to express yourself creatively. Writing might help you generate fresh ideas and explore various points of view. While journaling you can try to focus less on “perfection” and let your thoughts and voice flow freely.

    • Memory and cognitive function are improved.

    It has been shown to boost memory and cognitive performance. Remembering crucial details, events, and ideas can be improved by writing down your thoughts and experiences. It can also improve cognitive function and mental agility by stimulating the brain.

    • Helps Process Difficult Emotions

    Being about to write out your thoughts can be a useful method for dealing with tough emotions. You can acquire perspective and clarity by writing down your ideas and feelings. This might assist you in working through difficult feelings and moving forward.

    Getting Started with Journaling

    So now that we know some of the benefits of journaling, let’s list how to get started on your journaling journey.

    • Select a Journal

    The first step in writing is to select a journal that feels welcoming and comfortable. A regular notebook, a digital journaling app, or a bullet journal with customizable layouts are all options.

    • Set aside time

    Next, establish a daily routine for writing in your journal. It could be first thing in the morning, over your lunch break, or right before you go to bed. Make it a regular part of your schedule, whichever time you choose.

    • Write Freely

    Allow yourself to write freely and without judgment when you sit down to write. Don’t be concerned about grammar or spelling. Allow your thoughts to pour onto the page.

    • Experiment with Different Approaches

    Experiment with several journaling strategies to see which ones work best for you. You may try writing in a stream-of-consciousness style, following prompts, or delving into certain themes or topics.

    • Reflect and Revisit

    Review your journal entries on a regular basis to reflect on your progress and get fresh insights. You may discover trends in your thoughts or habits, places where you’ve evolved or improved, or repeated topics in your writing

    Takeaway

    Try to create a journaling routine! It’s an effective technique for processing your emotions and building on self-awareness. It can give you a safe and productive channel for self-expression, whether you’re wanting to alleviate stress, tap into your creativity, or process challenging emotions. You’ll be able to obtain fresh insights, improve your mental and emotional well-being, and develop your understanding of yourself by making writing a regular part of your routine.

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    Sources:

    Pennebaker, J. W. (2017) Expressive Writing in Psychological Science. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1745691617707315

  • How Spring Cleaning Impacts Mental Health

    How Spring Cleaning Impacts Mental Health

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    BENEFITS OF CLEANING, DECLUTTERING AND ORGANIZING

    Improved Your Mental Health

    Sense of Control of Your Surrounding

    Sometimes when we feel stressed and anxious, we feel like our lives are out of control. Cleaning or organizing your space can give you a sense of control over your surroundings. We all know that clutter can really be distracting and make it hard to focus on a particular

    Cleaning Benefits Your Physical Health

    Opportunity for You to Practice Mindfulness

    Spring cleaning can also be an opportunity to practice mindfulness. Instead of rushing through the process, take time to appreciate the present moment and the small details of your home. Engage all of your senses as you clean and pay attention to the sights, sounds, and smells around you.

    LET’S STAY IN TOUCH!

    WAYS TO START CLEANING, DECLUTTERING, AND ORGANIZING

    Organizing and decluttering can be customized to your preferences. It’s important not to burden yourself by attempting to tackle everything all at once. A thorough deep cleaning isn’t necessary. 

    Here are 8 ways you can start decluttering and organizing your space today:

    1. Sorting through paperwork and shredding documents that are no longer needed
    2. Sorting through your closet and donating clothes you no longer wear
    3. Going through your bookshelf and donating books you no longer read or need
    4. Organizing your desk drawers and discarding any unnecessary items
    5. Cleaning out your refrigerator and discarding expired food items
    6. Sorting through your makeup and discarding any expired or unused products
    7. Organizing your shoe collection and donating shoes that no longer fit or are worn out.
    8. Clearing out your pantry and organizing your food items by category

    Comment below some other ways you can start small and declutter a space in your home.

    Overall, cleaning, decluttering, and organizing can be a powerful tool for improving your mental health and well-being. So, take advantage of the season and give your home and mind a refreshing start.


    6 responses to “How Spring Cleaning Impacts Mental Health”

    1. Jaz Avatar

      Yes I love this! I’m in spring cleaning mode right now and it’s a whole mental cleansing just as much as the house. I’m having major clutter anxiety lately.

      1. Chanelle Spencer, LCSW Avatar

        Thanks for sharing Jaz! Happy to hear you found it useful. Be well 💜

    2. Morgan Avatar

      It’s def that time of year in my house – clearing out things and getting ready fpr a garage sale. Great tips! Sometimes it seems like it will never get all done.

      1. Chanelle Spencer, LCSW Avatar

        Oh, a garbage sale sounds like a great idea. Happy to hear you found the tips useful 🙃

    3. literallylaurie Avatar
      literallylaurie

      This is so true. Purging and organizing is on my spring to-do list!

      1. Chanelle Spencer, LCSW Avatar

        Happy to hear it Laurie! Hope it goes well 💜

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  • The Value of Self-Love in Black History: Promoting Empowerment and Self-Care.

    The Value of Self-Love in Black History: Promoting Empowerment and Self-Care.

     “Even if it makes others uncomfortable, I will love who I am.” – Janelle Monáe

    Self-love is a process of recognizing one’s own potential and worth, and accepting oneself fully, flaws and all. It is about taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional needs, as well as accepting and embracing who you are. It’s more than just treating yourself kindly or thinking positively; it’s about feeling empowered by your own unique individual strengths and qualities. 

    Self-love is an integral part of Black history. Throughout the centuries, the African diaspora have had to navigate the world and face extreme adversity, yet have still held fast to the importance of self-care, self-reflection and self-appreciation. From Frederick Douglass to Paul Robeson to Audre Lorde, Black folks have vocally proclaimed their right to love themselves in the face of systemic oppression, inspiring generations to come. Self-love and self-affirmation are essential components of Black history, and serve as a reminder that our liberation comes through bolstering ourselves and one another.

    Although self-love can be difficult to maintain, especially if you’re going through a challenging or oppressive time, it is important to remember that it is a process that takes time and effort.

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    Here are some tips to help you develop a healthy practice of self-love:

    1. Accept your flaws – We all have things about ourselves that we would like to change or improve, but it’s important to remind yourself that these flaws don’t define you. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of yourself and your life.

    2. Say nice things to yourself – Practicing positive affirmations can help you start to think better of yourself. Make sure to focus on the things that you like about yourself, even if they are small, rather than pointing out all of the things you wish were different.

    3. Praise your successes – Don’t be afraid to recognize and acknowledge your accomplishments, big or small. This will help build up your self-confidence, which is an essential part of self-love.

    4. Prioritize “me time” – Taking care of yourself and engaging in activities you enjoy can help you stay connected to who you are as a person and boost your self-esteem. Whether it’s reading a book, taking a walk, or watching your favorite movie, make sure to take some time each day or week to do something just for you.

    5. Find a support system – Developing relationships with people who support and accept you can be an invaluable resource for learning how to love yourself. Reach out to family, friends, colleagues, or even a therapist if needed, who can provide guidance and understanding during times when self-love may seem hard to come by.

    Self-love is fundamental for overall well-being, so make sure to take the steps necessary to cultivate it in your life above all else. With patience and practice, you can learn to appreciate the qualities that make you unique and accept yourself for who you are.


  • Embracing Yourself: A Journey of Self-Love

    Embracing Yourself: A Journey of Self-Love

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    Don’t let other people and their expectations consume you. Time spent healing, growing, and allowing yourself to simply exist is not time wasted. You are not “behind” in life or less of value because you are not where you want to be. How people treat you is not indicative of your worth.

    Allow yourself to have standards and values that suit you. You don’t have to wait until you look a certain way or have certain things. Never diminish your personal standards, for when you encounter someone or something that meets your standards and it for some reason doesn’t work out you can walk away knowing that:

    1. You are worthy of what you want regardless of circumstances
    2. You have moments and memories that fulfilled your standards at the time to hold onto

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    To have true self love we have to forgive ourselves, treat ourselves with respect, change the attitude we have towards life, and change the negative opinions we hold against ourselves. One of the most important relationships we will have in our lifetime is the one we have with ourselves.

    Affirmations to remember:
    I believe in my capabilities
    I am proud of myself for getting this far
    I am grateful for what I have, and I won’t dwell on what I don’t have
    I attract abundance and prosperity
    I am allowed to take up space and exist
    I am worthy of genuine love and support
    I deserve to feel safe and to be safe

    “Self-love is a process. It will require time. It will require patience. It will require change, solitude, pain, and everything that isn’t much pretty in this life. But in the end, it will be worth it. It will be beautiful. It will be you.” —Juansen Dizon

    you are worthy of love signage on brown wooden post taken

    You are worthy of love and deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. Remember to prioritize self-love and acceptance, as it is the foundation for a fulfilling and happy life. Embrace your unique qualities and talents, and never forget your worth!


    Happy Valentine’s Day!

    About the Writer…

    Jamaica Okech is a current Masters student studying Social Work at the University of Texas at Arlington. As a native Texan and member of the Black community she has a passion for finding ways to reduce harm in the lives of those in need. Jamaica is inspired to be in the mental health/counseling field due to the gaps she has witnessed in the treatment of historically marginalized communities.

    As an aspiring clinician, Jamaica believes in the importance of therapy as a helpful tool to support individuals in their healing and self discovery journeys. In her therapeutic approach, she provides an unbiased safe space for her client to grow at their own pace. She provides support by prioritizing their wellness through trauma informed care,  empowerment, and personalized treatment.

  • Why is self-compassion considered important?

    Why is self-compassion considered important?

    Self compassion is allowing yourself to feel understanding and kindness towards yourself, despite your failures, disappointments, imperfections and shortcomings.

    This pressure may be more of a hindrance to progress than we anticipate. Some tasks or skills will take practice and patience. Growing up my parents refused to say the common phrase “Practice makes perfect.” Instead, we would say “Practice makes better.” Rather than trying to achieve perfection we can work towards being better.


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    Self-compassion is an act of the will, a choice to be kind and understanding when faced with personal failings.”

    Kristin Neff

    Dr. Neff defined self-compassion in three elements:
    1. Self-kindness vs Self-judgment — Understanding that we will inevitably experience failure and life difficulties but treating ourselves with gentleness is a way to accept it rather than self-criticism or ignoring our pain.
    2. Common humanity vs Isolation — Recognizing that suffering and inadequacy is a human experience that we all share. The common phrase “you are not alone” comes to mind here. You are not the only one that will make mistakes and our mistakes and failures can connect us just as much as our successes.
    3. Mindfulness vs Over identification — Be mindful of negative emotions and thoughts. Don’t ignore your pain but also don’t be consumed by it. Remember that self-compassion is not to be confused with self-pity, self-indulgence, or self-esteem. Practice compassion towards yourself.

    There are many ways to practice self-compassion. Some ways are to practice positive self-talk, exploring through writing, or creating healthier habits. Find an exercise that suits you and try to maintain it in this new year.

    Have a wonderful New Year!


    About the Writer…

    Jamaica Okech is a current Masters student studying Social Work at the University of Texas at Arlington. As a native Texan and member of the Black community she has a passion for finding ways to reduce harm in the lives of those in need. Jamaica is inspired to be in the mental health/counseling field due to the gaps she has witnessed in the treatment of historically marginalized communities.

    As an aspiring clinician, Jamaica believes in the importance of therapy as a helpful tool to support individuals in their healing and self discovery journeys. In her therapeutic approach, she provides an unbiased safe space for her client to grow at their own pace. She provides support by prioritizing their wellness through trauma informed care,  empowerment, and personalized treatment.

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  • Achieving Your Goals: Setting & Reaching Your Goals for Success

    How many times over the years have we set goals and expectations and never really achieved them?

    Here are some reasons we don’t achieve our goals:

    1. Our goals are too big.
    2. Our goals are based on society’s expectation of you.
    3. We aren’t actually interested or invested in the goal.
    4. Our goals are based on others’ goals or accomplishments.

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    The key to success in any endeavor is setting meaningful, attainable goals. Goals give us something to strive for and help us stay focused on our vision. They help us stay on track and remind us of our desired outcome.

    1. Set realistic goals that are achievable and measurable. Don’t set goals that are too lofty or unrealistic, as they can be difficult to reach and lead to feelings of discouragement. Having accountability with others helps to keep goals achievable as well.
    2. Break down large goals into smaller ones. This makes it easier to stay on track and keep progressing towards your goal. Checking on your progress regularly help to keep it active.
    3. Make sure to celebrate your progress. Achieving small goals is just as important as reaching your larger goal, so make sure to recognize your successes along the way.
    4. Stay focused and motivated. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t reach your goal right away. Persevere and stay focused on your goal and you’ll eventually get there.

    Subscribe to get a FREE printable copy of our SMART Goals Worksheet.

    This workbook will help you create action plans for your success. Creating S.M.A.R.T. long-term and short-term goals will help you to reach your desired goals.


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    Setting new goals and creating new routines and habits can be scary. So it’s also very important to be mindful how we talk to ourselves as we work towards our desired outcome. Practicing daily positive affirmations is important to attaining our goals. Not letting fearful or unhelpful thoughts overcome your mental space is going to be something you work through on a regular basis. However, with the right supportive circle, determination and persistence you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

    “I am lucky that whatever fear I have inside me, my desire to win is always stronger”

    Serena Williams, Professional Tennis Player

    Takeaway

    A fresh start is a powerful thing! The new year brings a new opportunity to define your goals for your personal life and your business. Take some time this week to consider where you’d like to see yourself in the next 3 months, and write out your goals. Make sure your goal is S.M.A.R.T. Remember to think about why you are making this goal your goal.

    Comment below one of your goals for the new year.

    2 responses to “Achieving Your Goals: Setting & Reaching Your Goals for Success”

    1. literallylaurie Avatar
      literallylaurie

      This is helpful and aligns with my own thinking! I need to celebrate my success more! 🙂

      1. Chanelle Spencer, LCSW Avatar

        Yes! Celebrate those wins Laurie, you deserve it 💜

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  • Managing Anxiety During the Holidays

    The holiday season is often accompanied with stress and pressure. There are responsibilities that involve plans with loved ones, shopping, cleaning, and entertaining on top of maintaining your usual routine. Holiday anxiety happens commonly, and it can pose a mental health issue if left unchecked.

    close up photograph of two person holding sparklers

    “The holidays are a wonderful time, but they can quickly become overwhelming if you neglect to plan ahead.”

     Dr. Daisy Sutherland

    signs of anxiety during the holiday season

    1. Excessive worries that won’t go away
    2. Physical anxiety symptoms (rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, sweating, upset stomach, etc.)
    3. Social isolation or withdrawal
    4. Panic attacks
    5. Trouble sleeping or insomnia
    6. Feeling hopeless and helpless when under distress
    7. Change in appearance regarding less attention to self-care or hygiene

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    It is important to have healthy holiday boundaries if you know you are someone who often experiences holiday anxiety. The following tips are a guide to healthy holiday boundaries that you may try to establish this season.

    Guide to Healthy Holiday Boundaries

    • Be Empowered to Skip. Go Late. Leave Early or Drive Your Own Car to Holiday Parties
    • Ask For What You Want or Need
    • Say “No” Without Guilt
    • Say “Yes” Because You Want To, Not Out of Obligation or To Please Others
    • Let Go of Trying to Control What Other People Eat, Drink, Wear, Say, or Do
    • Express Your Feelings in An Assertive And Respectful Way; Avoid Passive-Aggressive Behavior
    • Take Care of Your Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Needs
    • Spend Time with Supportive People
    • Take Responsibility for Your Own Happiness and Don’t Be a Martyr
    • Don’t Make Excuses for Yourself or Anyone Else
    • Act According to Your Own Values and Beliefs

    Takeaway message…

    Happy Holidays and I hope all of you have a Happy New Year!


    About the Writer…

    Jamaica Okech is a current Masters student studying Social Work at the University of Texas at Arlington. As a native Texan and member of the Black community she has a passion for finding ways to reduce harm in the lives of those in need. Jamaica is inspired to be in the mental health/counseling field due to the gaps she has witnessed in the treatment of historically marginalized communities.

    As an aspiring clinician, Jamaica believes in the importance of therapy as a helpful tool to support individuals in their healing and self discovery journeys. In her therapeutic approach, she provides an unbiased safe space for her client to grow at their own pace. She provides support by prioritizing their wellness through trauma informed care,  empowerment, and personalized treatment.

  • “Winter Blues” or Seasonal Affective Disorder?

    Do you experience a change in mood during the shorter, gloomier winter days? This is colloquially called the “winter blues.” You might notice that you’re generally more depressed and lethargic during this time of the year.

    The winter blues may make you more unhappy than usual, but they usually won’t stop you from having fun. However, if your winter depression begins to impair every aspect of your life, including your job and personal relationships, you may suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

    The emergence of SAD, a subtype of significant depression that occurs during the winter when there is less natural light, is indicative of the condition. Many people typically experience symptoms in the fall that last through the winter.

    Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder

    There are some biochemical signs of seasonal affective disorder, yet the precise origins of these periodic mood changes are still unknown.

    • Serotonin, a crucial neurotransmitter for regulating mood, becomes unbalanced in the body when it receives little sunlight in the fall.
    • Similar to how fewer daylight hours tend to mess with your body clock and sleep schedule. Melatonin, a hormone associated with sleep, is overproduced due to prolonged darkness throughout the day.
    • Vitamin D deficiency, which is frequent during the winter months due to less sunlight, may be a cause of the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.
    • Women, teens, and young adults are more likely to experience the seasonal affective disorder, mainly if there is a history of depression in the family.

    Signs and Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

    The following are the main signs of seasonal affective disorder:

    • Depression
    • Sleep problems
    • Having frequent suicidal thoughts
    • Lethargy
    • Erratic eating patterns, marked by overeating and episodes of loss of appetite
    • Craving for carbohydrate-rich foods and consequent weight gain
    • Excessive sleeping and drowsiness
    • Irritability
    • Feeling down and unsociable.
    • difficulty paying attention
    • Loss of excitement for activities you once enjoyed
    • persistent feelings of worthlessness, despair, and regret

    Tips To Manage Seasonal Affective Disorder

    If your mood dips in the winter, whether it’s a more severe depression or just the blues, here are some suggestions to lift it back up.

    1.    Soak in the sunlight

    If you are experiencing the “winter blues” or SAD, the sunlight you get in a given week may impact your mood.

    One of the main causes of seasonal affective disorder is a persistent lack of sun exposure since it results in hormonal abnormalities that might cause despair.

    The body produces melatonin and serotonin, which control the circadian rhythm, in response to sunlight. Melatonin, which is primarily in charge of regulating the circadian rhythm, is affected by light levels. Light directly influences the same neurotransmitters as antidepressants do, so in a way, it functions similarly to those drugs.

    Try to get as much sun as you can each day during the winter. Walk outside in the direct sunlight, draw the drapes back, or open the blinds. Try to choose light colors that reflect outside light, even inside your home.

    You could try to spend some time by the window while drinking hot tea and reading a book.

    2.    Exercise more often!

    The feel-good chemicals in your brain may be released by exercise. Start by parking a block away from the workplace. Or go bigger by enrolling in a dance class or joining a local gym. Making it enjoyable increases your likelihood of sticking with it.

    An early morning jog can benefit early risers and provide them with energy for the rest of the day. While the sun is shining, running offers both exercise and light therapy benefits.

    Yoga, gentle aerobics, and walking are some activities that improve your mood.

    3.    Examine your vitamin D intake.

    Depression and low vitamin D levels are related. One requirement for the body to produce vitamin D is sunlight, which might result in insufficient quantities in the body.

    The risk of seasonal depression may be reduced by taking a vitamin D supplement if you live in a region with little sunlight or have a life that prevents you from getting enough sun exposure.

    But before taking supplements, speak with your doctor about the ideal dosage.

    4. Spend time with both animals and/or people.

    Reach out to connect with others, including people and animals, if you feel alone.

    Studies have shown that interacting with people or animals can improve one’s mood. Remain in touch with the people you value. Visit social gatherings. Volunteer in an animal shelter.

    Accept social invites, even if you can only stay a short while. Never forget that social interaction fosters a sense of self-worth and community. A pleasant discussion with a kind friend can result in a smile on your face.

    5.    Spend a few minutes each day in meditation.

    Both the body and the mind are successfully relaxed during meditation, which increases the activity of the areas of the brain linked to happiness and decreases the movement of the parts of the brain related to stress.

    It has been demonstrated that meditation reduces stress and depressive symptoms while altering brain chemistry.

    Regular practice is more significant than extended workouts. Over time, 10 to 15 minutes a day can be beneficial. Start your meditation practice for a short while, then progressively extend it to at least 10 minutes daily.

    The final word – How can seasonal affective disorder be prevented?

    • Try color therapy to lift your spirits and evoke certain feelings throughout the dark winter months.
    • Bold colors and light will add some cheer to your home.
    • Finding a new pastime or interest can keep your mind engaged and help prevent the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.
    • Think positively and maintain an upbeat outlook to chase away the winter blues.
    • To drastically raise your mood, listen to uplifting or optimistic music.
    • Traveling to a place with a warmer climate and an abundance of sunshine has a significant impact on your physical and emotional health.
    • Stick to your usual sleep routine no matter how much you want to sleep until noon.

    References

  • Gratitude is a Powerful Tool

    Gratitude is a Powerful Tool

    During the holiday season, being thankful and showing appreciation are often encouraged. We are thinking of gift ideas, ways to “pay it forward”, donating to different causes, and being intentional about returning kindness. This is a time to notice and appreciate the positives in life while finding ways to return kindness.

    Gratitude is a powerful tool for increasing life satisfaction because it amplifies good memories about the past and enhances social connections. The positive emotion of gratitude connects us to the kindness of others. Think of the people in your life—parents, friends, teachers, coaches, teammates, employers, and so on—who have been especially kind to you. Reflect on their impact on your life and consider reaching out to express your gratitude. There is power in expressing gratitude to someone who has touched your life.


    “Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good”

    Maya Angelou from Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer


    Easy ways to apply Gratitude:

    • Writing lists of several things one is grateful for
    • Thinking/writing about things/people one is grateful for
    • Writing (sometimes delivering) a letter to someone thanking them (for a gift)

    About the Writer…

    Jamaica Okech is a current Master’s level student studying Social Work at the University of Texas at Arlington. As a native Texan and member of the Black community, she has a passion for finding ways to reduce harm in the lives of those in need. Jamaica is inspired to be in the mental health/counseling field due to the gaps she has witnessed in the treatment of historically marginalized communities.

    As an aspiring clinician, Jamaica believes in the importance of therapy as a helpful tool to support individuals in their healing and self-discovery journeys. In her therapeutic approach, she provides an unbiased safe space for her client to grow at their own pace. She provides support by prioritizing their wellness through trauma-informed care,  empowerment, and personalized treatment.