Stop me if you’ve heard this one before but journaling can actually improve your quality of life. If you’re like me, you may be thinking “Yeah right like I really have the time to sit down to a bureau with my feather pen dipped in fresh ink to write in a red leather-bound book about all my adventures like Bilbo and Frodo Baggins” but in actuality you have more time than you think.
There are three common myths about journaling that I’d like to dispel in this particular blog:
Common Myth #1: I Don’t Have Time To Journal – Believe it or not, journaling doesn’t have to be a four-hour long engagement with you and your thoughts on paper. It can be a quick couple of lines jotted down to describe your day or some lingering thought you had or perhaps just a reflection on something you heard or experienced (I mean that’s pretty much like being on social media where you already work wonders easily with 140 characters or less).
Common Myth #2: My Life Isn’t Interesting Enough – Rubbish. You are a human being, exisiting in a world full of so much good, bad, and downright ugly where you interact with people all the time whether it be colleagues, family, or friends and you’ve yet to cease to live to tell the tale! You have more going on in your life than you think and it’s great material from which to
Common Myth #3: Journaling Is For Great Writers – Nay! You do not have to be a Pulitzer Prize-winner to be qualified to keep a journal. Journals do not judge you for having poor grammar or incoherent run on sentences nor should you! So feel free to write whatever comes to mind and don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense because it doesn’t have to.
The cool thing is journaling has adapted to the digital age. This means for those of you who are tech savvy and prefer the electronic alternative to the old pen and paper method, you can download free journal apps on any of your mobile devices. As for myself personally, I enjoy the best of both worlds so I bought a journal and I downloaded an app for when time is sparse.
Journaling has a myriad of benefits. Just the idea of keeping track of your thoughts, reflections, and experiences can be very rewarding for your posterity who may not have had the opportunity to know you while you roamed the earth. It can be a source for inspiration and creativity when those moments of genius strike. According to a widely cited study by James W. Pennebaker and Janel D. Seagal, “Writing about important personal experiences in an emotional way…brings about improvements in mental and physical health.” Proven benefits include better stress management, strengthened immune systems, fewer doctor visits, and improvement in chronic illnesses such as asthma.
Needless to say journaling has endless benefits and you can always use something that will benefit you.More
As I have worked with several clients who struggle with depression, I have noticed a consistent theme among those who prescribe to religion. Many of them tend to carry a belief that if they would only be more righteous, they would not be struggling with depression, or other mental health issues. If they would only pray more or read more holy writ. If they could only be more devoted to God, Adonai, Allah, Prabhu; then this illness would be removed from them. The following are some of the challenges I have found with this flawed belief.
- Most religions teach that human struggle is necessary and expected for growth and progression. Therefore, this belief is in direct conflict with the very teachings one prescribes to. Depression, or any other challenge, can be seen rather as a part of one’s “refining” process, not a detriment to it or a punishment because of that natural process.
- Making a medical health comparison, I don’t believe that most people would believe their God sees physical injuries or wounds as evidence of impurity or sin. So, why then do we make that assumption regarding mental illnesses? Is it because one who is religious may associate their mind with their identity more than they would their body? Do we take more accountability for what goes on in our head than our body? Additionally, sometimes people who could use valuable treatment and resources, avoid it because they believe between themselves and God, they have it covered. Regarding our previous example of infection, wouldn’t God expect one to pray AND seek good medical care?
- Why would only some be punished by depression for sin, and others not? A more accurate interpretation may be, that it has nothing to do with sin or righteousness, but rather a genetic predisposition for the illness.
- Many times, those who believe that depression is a bad omen, reduce their religion to a source of guilt, rather than the uplifting support it may have been previously. Many people report that religion can be a tremendous support and relief during times of trial. The belief that one is not righteous enough to be cured of depression, robs them of the components of religion that can bring hope and peace during times or horrific challenge. Religion and God can be a tremendous tool in one’s journey to healing and health.
I believe there is a reason why so many of my clients tend to fall into this flawed thinking trap. One of the side effects of depression can be a sense of numbness or apathy. Unfortunately, when you are numb, it likely means you can’t feel God either. One may mistake the sudden lack of spiritual feelings, as a disconnection from Him, or a punishment.
I would urge all who struggle with this thought pattern now, to trust in the things you already know to be true regarding the character of your God. Allow yourself to be human and injured, the way He allows you to be.More
- Always remain emotionally distant. When you have a problem keep it to yourself. Never allow yourself to be open and vulnerable to the other person.
- Reach out to old flames on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and any other social media sights, so you can see what they are doing on a daily basis.
- Start talking to these old flames regularly. Find out about their current likes and dislikes. Examine if they are happy in their relationship.
- When you are sad, angry, hurt, confused, and/or any other negative emotion toward your spouse turn to this new/old friend for support. Your spouse does not need to know. This information will only burden them and create even more emotional distance. Lean on and confide only on this new friend. Emotional closeness with someone of the opposite sex holds no danger for you. In the long run you are looking after your spouse and hopefully protecting them from hurt feelings.
If you find yourself falling into any of these categories and feel that the relationship with your spouse is not going well, call Wasatch Family Therapy today. We are ready to help you through this difficult time and teach you effective ways to strengthen your relationship, and keep proper distance and boundaries in areas that may lead to cheating in the future.More
While I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this, I have to let you in on a guilty pleasure of mine; I love watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Most reality TV leaves me scoffing, changing the channel or, commenting with ridicule and judgment (I can’t help it), but when it comes to viewing Kim K and the rest of the family I walk away from each episode thinking “huh, amid the chaos there is something going well with this family”. It took me a while to sift through the grandiose- ego driven aspects of the show to find what I consider to be 3 real strengths that they demonstrate that could be applied to family therapy.
- Pit and Peak
In one episode, the family sat down to family dinner, something they seemingly do often, and over the course of the meal each member took turn talking about the “Pit and the Peak” of their day. In other words, they were all present to check in with each other and share their experience of the day. There wasn’t much problem solving going on, but that seemed to be okay. The purpose of the exercise was more to hear and be heard.
*How this applies to family therapy: Spending meal times together and disclosing how your day went can be a great way to understand where people are emotionally, as well as offer support and praise. When we check in (and do it often) we are better able to avoid personalizing someone else’s bad day and this reduces conflict.
- Be Real (real assertive that is)
For those of you who watch (and I know you’re out there), it is clear to see that this family has no problem putting themselves out there. While it may be a bit narcissistic or over the top in the show, what is also happening is self-validation. The Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, and Kris are willing to be vulnerable and verbalize when they are dissatisfied with one another. Rarely does this family let things get swept under the rug. When they are frustrated they let the other know and this creates the opportunity (for drama) AND for resolution. Yes, there are many times where they do not demonstrate assertive clear communication, but they are willing to put themselves out there and work it out.
*How this applies to family therapy: Passive communication often creates resentment and stress in families. Practicing assertive communication (like letting people know how you really feel) on the other hand, leads to a higher likelihood that those un-met needs that are causing conflict, will be met. Families that can “Be Real” with each other in respectful and validating ways are more likely to resolve and rebound from conflict and build secure attachments to one another.
From creating their own music videos on family vacations, to wrestling, or playing pranks on each other, this family prioritizes play. No doubt that they are not short of drama or chaos, but their efforts to play and have fun with one another help counter balance the pandemonium and strife.
*How this applies to family therapy: When we forget to have fun with our families it limits our opportunity to learn and grow together. Play can be a stress relieving and bonding experience. With children, play can help them learn and develop various skills such as motor skills, cognitive skills, and social skills. Play teaches the parents to be patient towards their children and can have the added value of increasing the child or teens self-esteem knowing they will be attended to. Families who take the time to play together, are often more cooperative, supportive and have better and more frequent communications.
While I am not suggesting that we all start emulating the Kardashians, these few point may be work trying to incorporate into your family dynamics.More
Do your thoughts ever run away with you?
If you answered “yes” to that question, you’re not alone. Thoughts may come and go like clouds in the sky, and emotions may change like the weather, but when a thought storm comes rolling in, it can feel overwhelming, stifling, and paralyzing. In those moments, it is helpful to remember the following:
- Anxiety is the body’s natural response to fear. It puts your body into “fight or flight” mode and it is completely legitimate to feel a fear response to a real or perceived threat.
- Tuning into your body’s fear response is the only thing you can control and it’s the first thing you’ll want to attempt. Your brain can’t function and help you dial back your fear response if your body is readying itself for a fight or a sprint.
- When you experience anxiety, check to see if you are in current danger or if you are worried about potential danger. Then adjust your response. If you are in current danger, get to a place of safety. If you are worried about potential danger, begin a calming process to help yourself understand what it is you’re worried about and why.
- Pay attention to your breathing. When we are in fight or flight mode, our breathing changes to rapid, shallow breaths to help us move quickly in defense of our safety. Once we reach a place of safety, our breathing changes to slower, deeper breaths to help our system calm itself and return to a baseline of normal functioning. How do you breathe when you are anxious? If you can recognize your breathing and mindfully work to slow it, you will begin to calm yourself in the process.
So what do we do with our thoughts? We treat them like clouds passing in the sky, like pieces of the weather patterns in our lives. We treat them like cars on the freeway. We watch them come and we watch them go. We recognize that some thoughts will make our breathing rate increase and others will help it decrease. We realize that our thoughts are powerful but they are not the only reality we can choose to believe. We see our thoughts for what they are, ongoing experiences and commentary about our lives. Like radio static in the background or elevator music when you’re placed on hold during a phone call. Thoughts are present but they do not have to always be overwhelming or overpowering when we are able to remember that they change as frequently as the clouds in the sky. As we learn to watch the shape that our thoughts form, we can give our thoughts permission to change without taking us along for the ride. In doing this, we give ourselves permission to observe the process without becoming overwhelmed by or hooked into it. It takes practice and it takes awareness to get into the habit of observing your thoughts as thoughts on the stage of your reality. It is one of the most helpful ways to assist you in managing your relationship with anxiety.More