The 3 R's to Help You Stick to Your Resolution

Hi everyone, my name is Melanie. I am the new administrative assistant of Serene Mind, and I wanted to take a second to congratulate everyone for making it through another year! No matter what happened, no matter how you are feeling or where you are, if you’re reading this, you made it. 

                Such as the New Year, I would like to take a closer look at New Year’s Resolutions. How many of us have made one this year, and moving towards the end of the month, aren’t feeling all that hopeful anymore? How many of us have made the same one that we made last year…and the year before that? I am writing this in the hopes that after reading it, you don’t walk away feeling discouraged, or berating yourself. All of us have things about ourselves that we would like to work on, but there are right and wrong ways to go about it. A New Year’s Resolution should not be something for us told hold over our heads like a demanding cloud of gloom. It should a goal. Humans are creatures of habit. If you have been doing the same things for the past fifteen, or even five years, please do not think that you will suddenly be able to change it at the stroke of midnight. 

                The same way that a habit is made, it can be broken. Some of us don’t know how we even got to the point that we are at today, we just know that change is necessary. Know that is half the battle, having the motivation to see it through, is the other half. I would like to share a little bit of knowledge that I acquired recently that might make this whole thing seem a little more feasible. 

What are the 3 R’s of Habit Formation? 

Reminder: The Reminder is a trigger and it can come in the form of many different forms such as a location, time, struggle, emotion, or action. A good amount of the time, this isn’t something that is within our power to change.

Routine: Then there is the Routine, which is what we do in response to the Reminder. This is where change happens. You control how you respond to that Reminder, and you alter your process. Try doing this 21 days in a row, however big or small it may be, and you are on track to modeling a new behavior.

Reward: The last is the Reward, and this is the joy within ourselves that we feel after a job well done. Don’t forget to celebrate each day that you accomplish your daily goals.

       This formula is broad for the purpose of it being adaptable to all of your different situations and work habits. There is wiggle room, and forgiveness if you allow it. There isn’t room for self-doubt, or beating yourself out, so leave it all at the door, and see what happens. I wish you guys the best of luck in all that you set out to accomplish and have the happiest of New Years.

Goal Motivation

Hi Everyone! My name is Angelica, but I prefer to be called Angie.  I am a student in the Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling program at the University of South Florida. I also work as Mrs. Stephanie’s Administrative Assistant here at Serene Mind Psychology.

In addition to my professional interest in counseling, I am a certified Success and Wellness Coach. In my work as a coach, I help my clients (who all happen to be college students) to first cultivate a vision for how they’d like to live their best lives. Most of that process involves asking them to consider their values, their priorities, and to reflect on their level of satisfaction in eight dimensions of their wellness: Physical Environment, Career, Finances, Physical Health, Friends/Family, Romance, Personal Development/Growth, and Fun/Recreation. From this vision, my clients then set goals to help facilitate balance across each of the eight areas mentioned.

While there is a certain objectivity to the goal setting process, our goals are a reflection of who we are and what we value. The art of goal setting is important to facilitating forward movement in both the coaching and counseling environments. So how can you ensure you set goals that allow you to cultivate a momentum and will carry you forward into living life on your own terms? The key is to set SMART goals! SMART goals are:

  • Specific: Specific goals are those that get down to business. What behavior or thought are you seeking to change in order to improve your satisfaction with your life or holistic wellness?
  • Measurable: Measurable goals allow you to answer the question, “what will it look like when this goal is met?” If you either can’t measure your goal progress or don’t know what to look for, how will you know when you’re ready to set your sights on a new target?

  • Attainable: Attainable goals are those that stretch you just outside of your comfort zone-- but not so far out of it that your goals are no longer within reach. This makes the difference between a goal that is a confidence boost and one that is a confidence bust!

  • Relevant: Relevant goals help us answer the question “why”—why does this goal matter? What purpose will it serve to accomplish this goal? When you know your ‘why’, you can accomplish any ‘what’!

  • Time-bound: Time-bound goals have a timestamp on them: By when will you have this goal completed? It is important to be realistic as you are setting your timeframe; again, this be a make-it or break-it for your confidence!

I learn through examples, so here is an example of one of my goals for this year:

In order to become the best coach I can be, I will read one piece of material per month that expands my knowledge and skill set as a coach. After reading each resource, I will create a 1-page summary of major takeaways and strategies I can use to integrate the resource into my practice as a coach.

Can you identify each element of the SMART framework in my goal?
 

Mental Health Matters

"Once my loved ones accepted the diagnosis, healing began for the entire family, but it took too long. It took years. Can't we, as a nation, begin to speed up that process? We need a national campaign to destigmatize mental illness, especially one targeted toward African Americans...It's not shameful to have a mental illness. Get treatment. Recovery is possible."

–Bebe Moore Campbell, 2005
Co-developer of Minority Mental Health Month

I’d like to take a moment to first give kudos to the individuals and groups of individuals who have made great efforts to destigmatize mental health over the past several years. Campaigns such as ‘Time to Change’, and Takethis.org have created safe spaces for individuals and their loved ones who experience mental illnesses to vent about their experiences, and connect with others who they can relate to. These sort of campaigns have been created with the purpose of destigmatizing mental health, and it seems that they have done an excellent job of educating individuals about mental health, and fostering hope for individuals by sharing venues for getting help.   

Unfortunately, it seems that many individuals still feel a sense of shame and helplessness when it comes time to getting care for themselves or for their loved ones. Statistics vary depending on the source, but between 1/5 and ¼ of all Americans are currently living with a diagnosable mental health condition. NAMI reports that individuals who are Hispanic, Black, Asian, and American Indian, are as or more likely to have a mental illness as white individuals. But when it comes to receiving care, White Americans are most likely to receive care for their mental health. African Americans and Hispanic Americans do not tend to receive the mental health services that they need and Asian Americans were found the least likely to receive care. 

So what explains this disparity between white individuals and minorities receiving mental health treatment? According to NAMI, individuals in multicultural communities receive a poorer quality of care, experience higher levels of stigma, receive services within a culturally insensitive health care system, may experience language barriers from their clinicians, and have lower rates of health insurance.  These statistics, although discouraging, serve as a sign to mental health practitioners that we need to do more to reach clients of all ethnic backgrounds, especially individuals who fall into these underserved communities. Minority Mental Health Month was developed to improve the public’s awareness of mental health among minorities and to improve access. 

What can you do to help? Educating yourself and others about mental illnesses may be the first step. You can visit www.nami.org for additional information regarding the facts and myths associated with mental health. You can connect with other individuals and families, neighbors and people who have sought help for their mental health in the past. You may also speak with your doctor to see if therapy may be a good fit for you or a loved one.

It is not always easy to talk about mental health but by just reading this blog you are already helping others. Awareness is key and by coming together we can begin to end the stigma associated with mental illness, especially for minorities.

Summer Loving

Hi all! I would like to introduce myself. My name is Bridgette, and I am a counseling student at the University of South Florida. I have been working with Mrs. Stephanie as her Administrative Assistant for the past year. Some of you may know me from our phone conversations, or by my assistance in the therapy room during my practicum experience. I am happy to share that I will be graduating next summer with my master’s degree in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling, and will be a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, and a registered counseling intern with the state of Florida. I enjoy writing in my spare time, as I find it to be a fun form of self-expression. Mrs. Stephanie has asked that I join her in contributing to our blog, and I am thrilled to share my first post!

Aaah, it’s sweet summertime!  Our kids are out of school, or if we don’t have children at home, perhaps we’ve decided to take some time for ourselves this summer. Whether vacationing, stay-cationing, or simply taking some time to relax when we have a moment of peace after work, summertime can be ideal for connecting with oneself again, and refocusing on what is most important to us.  

Summertime can serve as a great time to reconnect with our values, strengthen coping mechanisms, and re-center ourselves. For school aged children, teens, and young adults, summer may serve as the ideal time to begin therapy. Oftentimes when planning for summer we think of all of the most enriching possible activities out there. We register our kids for a great summer camp, and plan educational trips to museums. We plan picnics outside at the beach, and splurge on all access passes to Adventure Island, (anything to beat the scorching Florida heat). We take time to travel, and to be outdoors. What we often overlook during the summer is helping our young ones, and ourselves, to work on our mental health.

The benefits of therapy are innumerable. Research indicates that 75% of individuals who enter therapy show some benefit (APA, 2017). The following are some benefits of attending therapy over the summer as I have identified. Keep in mind that everyone is different, and as you are reading I encourage you to open yourself up to what benefits you could see for yourself of going to therapy.

  • Gain coping mechanisms In counseling we cultivate coping mechanisms that will be carried with us far beyond our time in the therapy room. Oftentimes when life throws us barriers, we develop coping mechanisms that don’t serve us. We may not even be aware of what these maladaptive mechanisms are. In therapy we learn to identify our not so helpful coping mechanisms, and to find what is healthy, and what works for us.

  • Manage our stress The summer can be an ideal time to take a break from our usual routine, and to work through out stressors with our therapist. The act of going to therapy itself may also serve to reduce stress. Therapy means having regularly scheduled appointments to look forward to for y-o-u.

  • Improve our concentration Whether we have a break from responsibilities this summer, or if we are still engaged in school and work, summer can be an excellent time to refocus, and to gain skills to help us concentrate throughout the year.

  • Cultivate self-esteem It’s the dreaded time of year again when we get to see the beautiful (beautifully photoshopped) models showing off their tans and their ‘beach bodies’. Rather than focusing on trying to look like the celebrities we see, this summer perhaps we can turn inward to work on cultivating our self-esteem.

  • Get a handle on our anxiety and depression Although we often think of wintertime as a time that individuals most often feel depressed and anxious, summertime can often bring those feelings to the forefront of our lives. The extra time off may be a relief, but it may also bring to light feelings we are coping with all year long. In therapy we can gain the skills we need to cope with feelings of anxiety and depression.

  • Gaining insight of ourselves Our modern society doesn’t often provide us with opportunity (or time) to take a step back and think about ourselves as individuals. Therapy, for some, may be the first opportunity for a higher level of introspection, and may be an opportunity to feel truly heard and understood by a compassionate listener.

If you or a loved one has been on the fence about when the right time for counseling is, I hope you consider taking time for yourself this summer to find a counselor who is a good fit for you or your loved ones needs. Whether you are reading this post this summer, or if it’s any time of the year, I encourage you to find a clinician who will work alongside you while you work on yourself.

"13 Reasons Why" We Need to Listen

The controversial show "13 Reasons Why" has everyone talking about teens and suicide. The series portrays a high school teen, Hannah, who takes her own life after experiencing a downfall of devastating events with 13 individuals. Hannah tells her story from her point of view, about all the people that could have saved her and moments that were most significant. The show demonstrates the importance of empathy, understanding, communication and listening. Had the events in Hannah's life been different, had someone reached out to her, told her how much she was loved and simply listened, she may still be alive.

Although, many clinicians would agree that teens who watch this show may try to mimic Hannah's tragic end; many would also agree that this show may help teens talk about suicide and hopefully adults can learn to listen. The reality is the more we talk about suicide the less it happens.  

Here are just some, 13 to be exact, ways we can try to prevent teen suicide:

1. Connect and reach out to your teen  

2. Trust that they do want your help

3. Encourage them to believe in themselves 

4. Use positive language when speaking to each other 

5. Spend time together, bond over activities you both enjoy 

6. Do not use physical, emotional or mental violence 

7. Be attentive to your teens emotions

8. Learn not to minimize how they feel 

9. Get to know their friends 

10. Learn if they are being bullied at school 

11. Be a positive role model and model behavior that you would expect from them 

12. Communicate and talk about why suicide is not a way out 

13. Listen to how your teen feels and hear what they need 

We can spend time criticizing a show about teen suicide, or we can learn to use it as a tool to teach teens that suicide is not a solution. It is about time we learn to listen and prevent senseless tragedies. Suicide is never the answer.