#160 Practice Mindful Compassion

Think for a moment of how you would comfort a child who has just lost his mother. Imagine that child sitting on your lap in a deep state of sadness and you are helpless to ‘fix’ the problem.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#160

Practice Mindful Compassion

One of the ‘new’ buzzwords in psychotherapy is ‘mindful compassion’. It’s not new really… Buddhists have been practicing mindful compassion for thousands of years and one might even argue that most prayer regiments are akin to this practice. Mindful compassion is the specific expression of empathy, goodwill, and compassion towards oneself and/or others. It’s learning how to extend a deep level of compassion, without judgment, to oneself or to others.

Imagine

Think for a moment of how you would comfort a child who has just lost his mother. Imagine that child sitting on your lap in a deep state of sadness and you are helpless to ‘fix’ the problem. Your only comfort can be a deep level of empathy and compassion for the pain that this child feels. Now, imagine that you can generate this same level of compassion for yourself each time you experience emotional discomfort or send that compassionate energy – via thought waves – to another human who may be suffering.

Extend It

This level of comforting – this extension of deep compassion – can be very healing. Cultivating an ability to self-sooth is the focus of new treatments for anxiety and depression. It is also a wonderful way to begin each day – extending compassionate ‘vibes’ to people in your life who may benefit from a little extra love.

Doing so is quite easy if you sit quietly and imagine yourself in a state of deep compassion; going to your core. Next, create an image of the person you want to send energy to… and offer these words:

“May you be well; May you be happy; May you be free from suffering”

Spend 5 minutes in that space, sending love and energy to one or more people – or even yourself. Practicing this on a daily basis will not only increase your personal depth of compassion, it will calm you, build inner peace, and increase the endorphins that are associated with acts of benevolence.

Learn More

This suggestion is a mere blip of an introduction to mindful compassion and I encourage you to investigate leading teachers and practitioners such as Sharon Salzberg, Kristin Neff, Paul Gilbert, or Christopher Germer, just to name a few.

Benefits

This is one of those ‘tips’ that anyone can do; requires no tools; is completely FREE; benefits others; improves mental health; and can be accomplished anytime – anywhere. It may be a perfect activity! So, sit quietly for a few minutes and let the sun shine on your face as you close your eyes and …

Practice mindful compassion.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#206 Take a Mental Day Off

Leaving work at noon – grabbing a pedicure without waiting and getting into the house before anyone else can shift an entire perspective from raunchy to rested.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#206

Take a mental health day off

When was the last time you took a day off for no reason other than to stay home and binge watch T.V., go on a hike, or picnic by a waterfall? All too often we save our vacation days for purposeful tasks or family vacations where the only thing that is different – is the scenery. Sometimes, we just need to have a mental health day.

Use sick days

All too often I find that people accumulate sick days in anticipation of having a major illness. I’ve known people to sell back more than six months of time that was accrued. While that was a nice ‘bonus’, most of us would have been better off taking one or two of those for no other reason than we wanted to have a champagne lunch with a friend.

Taking a Break

Everything is easier when we take a break. When we exhaust ourselves physically, we take a break. When we sit too long, we take a break, and when we’ve worked our fannies off – we deserve a break. Even taking a half day can make a difference. Leaving work at noon – grabbing a pedicure without waiting and getting into the house before anyone else can shift an entire perspective from raunchy to rested.

New Perspective

The little break you take with a mental health day can help you get a new perspective or at the very least, it can give you the metaphorical deep breath you need from work and the people there; stepping back from stress, controversy, or uncertainty. If we are seeking clarity or solutions, it may be the break that offers it to us.

Take a look at your work schedule as soon as you can and identify a time when you can…

Take a mental health day off.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#207 Use Aromatherapy

When we inhale the oil molecules, they affect the limbic region in our brain which impacts our emotions, our memory, our hormones and our heart rate.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#207

Use Aromatherapy

For more than 5000 years, scent – the aroma of oils and plants – have been used as therapies for healing everything from clearing out sinuses, helping us sleep, improving circulation, and calming our mind. It’s considered an alternative or ‘holistic’ treatment to complement medical treatment.

Benefits

The oils used in Aromatherapy stimulate the olfactory system in our body – the one connected to our nose. When we inhale the oil molecules, they affect the limbic region in our brain which impacts our emotions, our memory, our hormones and our heart rate. When the diluted oils are massaged into our skin, it may improve circulation and improve the absorption rate.

Uses

Common plant oils like Basil and Pepper help with body aches and migraines. Eucalyptus is great when we have colds to help us breathe better. Lemon oil, Thyme, and Lavender are known to improve our mood, reduce stress, and enhance sleep.

Caution

Some of these oils can be toxic if used inappropriately. They can promote an allergic reaction or interact negatively with one another so it is imperative that a trained professional guide the use and application of essential oils. An aromatherapist will use a medical history, your current health history as well as diet and lifestyle to develop a strategic plan for medicinal uses.

Keep it  Simple

If you just want your home to smell good and trigger a tranquil feeling, try a diffuser with a diluted scent that you find pleasant (lavender is commonly used for tranquility). There is a large variety of diffusers from reeds, ultrasonic, and mist contraptions that allow the oil molecules to permeate the air. A quick search will return more options than you’ll need.

Once you do a little research and visit a pro you’ll find that your mental and physical well-being can be improved with a decision to…

Use aromatherapy.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

TEN TIPS FOR MAKING THE MOST OUT OF THERAPY

There are as many different types, styles, and personalities of mental health professionals as there are people.

People go to therapy for various reasons certainly. Some are coping with stress or anxiety; others with depression or grief. Couples may seek counseling for infidelity, communication, or intimacy deficiencies. Perhaps others may go to bolster self-esteem and/or confidence.

No matter the reason, there is a distinct difference between those who get the most out of the experience and those who decide that ‘therapy didn’t work’.

Here are my tips for getting the most bang for your buck.

Find a therapist you like.

Obviously, you won’t ‘know’ the therapist but it is imperative that you feel as though you connect to that person. You will be sharing your deepest self with them and a certain level of trust and comfort is needed for you to experience the kind of vulnerability that will ultimately help you. It may take a couple of tries with a few therapists to find one. Be patient and persevere through the process. Most therapists will refer you to someone ‘different’ than them if you let them know it’s not a good fit.

Be honest.

A therapist can only work with the information they receive. If you don’t lay all the puzzle pieces on the table, you are wasting your money and their time. If it is too difficult to throw it all out there in the beginning – say that. Let the counselor know that the story is hard for you to open up about but you hope to tell the whole of it as time goes by. We are trained to be patient and guide you gently to the truth.

Keep a Therapy Notebook.

And take it to your appointments. You only have an hour and in that hour your therapist may share some important information with you. It’s difficult to remember everything when you get home especially if the session was emotional. In addition, there may be ‘homework’ and you’ll have more success if you know exactly what is recommended. If you can’t write in the session for some reason – when you get to your car – write down your thoughts; as many as you can while it is fresh in your mind. In addition, keep the notebook near you in between sessions so that you can write down thoughts and/or questions you want to discuss at your next meeting.

Do the Work.

Not only is it important for you to do the ‘homework’ but you only spend an hour (on average) a week with your counselor. What are you doing the other roughly 150 – 180 hours in between therapy appointments? It’s vital for you to *think* about your situation, your growing opportunities, and the ideas / suggestions that your therapist makes after you leave the office.

Read.

There are thousands of books about various mental health topics and a few of them are excellent in each subject matter. Your therapist has one perspective that is beneficial and either supporting it or gaining another by reading is often valuable. Many counselors recommend supportive reading, so ask. Read, underline, earmark, highlight the parts of the book that resonate with you – ignore the parts that don’t. Not every paragraph or chapter applies to your particular scenario so don’t let the parts that you don’t connect to rob you, deter you from the parts that speak to your heart. Furthermore, if you find you are stuck on something, make a note and bring it up in therapy; perhaps it is a point that you can pull apart and digest in session.

Keep Going.

One of the biggest mistakes people make regarding therapy is that they stop going when they begin to feel a little better. However, lasting change needs reinforced and cemented into place. Clearly, the frequency of sessions can decrease as you improve but maintaining change is a supportive process and your therapist is the key support person.

Be Patient.

Change takes time! Sure, you want to feel better now; we understand. Realize though that true change, the kind that lasts longer than a few weeks – happens slowly. In many ways, you are learning a new language; a new way of being. Chances are your situation didn’t evolve over a short time span and so it’s irrational to think that it can change right away.

Be Kind.

Going to therapy is one of the best ways to practice self-care. You are making time to look at yourself and make a change. That’s great! It’s incredibly important for you to express internal kindness – be a friend to yourself – throughout the process. Many, many people struggle from time to time because no one is perfect and no one can go it alone ALL the time and stay healthy. Make learning to love yourself part of your growth.

Get Support.

Let your peeps – those who know and love you – know about this important step you’ve taken to feel better about yourself and your life. Again – no one is without some element of hardship or challenge from time to time. Working to make positive change in one’s life is an extremely respectable step.

Offer feedback.

Therapists don’t know everything. Sometimes, we hypothesis as we collect information from you and our suggestions don’t work or need to be reworked. Let us know what is helping you and what isn’t. If we make a recommendation and it feels really ‘off’ to you – say something. Our job and our passion is to help you feel better.

There are dozens of different therapeutic ideologies that counselors practice from. Some are solidly positioned inside one frame (i.e., Psychodynamic Theory) and others are eclectic – pulling strategies from a variety of platforms. There are as many different types, styles, and personalities of mental health professionals as there are people. For the best result – first and foremost – find someone you like!

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