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5 Ways to Decrease the Stigma of Mental Health

5 Ways to Decrease the Stigma of Mental Health

Introduction by Annamarie Fernyak

In the following blog post, Erin talks about the stigma of mental health and common biases toward people who may be suffering from mental illness. Before Erin’s thoughtful essay, I never considered that I might have biases. After reflecting on Erin’s words, I came to realize that some biases were just below the surface.  

So, what can we do once you know those subconscious inclinations exist? What do I do? 

Be mindful, of course! We each have the beautiful ability to tune the dial of awareness onto our thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations.  By paying careful attention, we gain information and uncover unwanted habits and beliefs. The pause taken to tune into awareness provides the opportunity for you to weigh what is happening at any moment against your values; then an action may be chosen.  It allows purposeful actions instead of reactions.  

Take time to self-reflect. Listen to your thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. Discover if you have habitual ways of thinking or hidden prejudices, and invite yourself to think, act, and exist in a way that positively serves yourself and the world.  

Sending a virtual hug!!!

 

Mindfully,

 

Annamarie


 

“I heard you were sick the other day.  How are you feeling?”  
“You had surgery recently, right?  How are you recovering?”
“Oh no, you have the flu??  Stay home and take care of yourself!”

 

All of the above statements are commonly heard among friends and co-workers on a daily basis.  We are often able to discuss health issues and illnesses, checking on one another, and making sure physical health issues are addressed.  Imagine if the following was overheard:

I heard you had a manic episode last week.  How are you feeling?”
“You had a psychiatric hospitalization recently, right?  How are you doing?”
“Oh no, you had a panic attack?  Please stay home and take care of yourself!”

 

 

If any of the above statements make you uncomfortable, you are not alone. 

Except for those who work in the mental health field, the statements above do not roll off the tongue.  We are completely comfortable talking about the health ailments of ourselves and our friends, family, and co-workers; however, the stigma around mental health often leaves us speechless and silent, rendering those with mental health symptoms isolated and ostracized.

 

So why does this occur? 

There are a variety of reasons and theories.  In the Middle Ages, those with mental health symptoms were thought to be punished by God or possessed by the devil, so they were often imprisoned, burned, or killed.   Perhaps the discomfort around mental health stems from the colonial and industrial periods; at this time, women were commonly viewed as property of the fathers and husbands in their lives, and these men could have them “committed” to a sanitarium at any time, with very little evidence.  In the days of Nazi Germany, horrible experiments were conducted on those deemed mentally ill because some believed the mentally ill were a disposable population.

In the 1960s and 1970s, deinstitutionalization resulted in the influx of those diagnosed as severely mentally ill as these individuals re-entered local communities to receive treatment.  However, this also led to homelessness, and it doubled the number of people identified as mentally ill in the criminal justice system in the following years.  Additionally, the media sensationalize acts of violence and attribute them to mental illness, even if there is no evidence of a connection.

In this historical context, all episodes of mental illness get lumped together.  Whether the person is experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia, depression, or anxiety, the individual is often viewed from the same lens, both internally (view of self) and externally (how others view the person).  If one grows up hearing about “crazy” people, who commit acts of violence or who live on the street, and then experiences mental health symptoms, it can be alarming and unsettling.  Often, people will not admit to themselves or others what symptoms they experience for fear of being hospitalized, losing their job, or not being able to see or care for their children.  

 

What can the average person do then, to reduce this stigma for oneself and significant others? 

Mental health issues are isolating, and lack of connection with others exacerbates these issues. Human connection is the balm that heals. Sometimes, just having someone who is willing to sit with you, even in silence, is the most healing thing of all. Be that connection for someone. There are several things we can do :

 

1. Educate yourself

The more you know, the less scary and strange something will be.  And then, you can help educate others with facts.

 

2. Recognize what biases you have

Examine from where these biases stem, whether from how you were brought up or societal influences.

 

3. Talk about your own mental health struggles

Each of us has ups and downs in our moods and emotions; that is very normal.  Each of us also has times in our lives when we struggle with difficult situations and circumstances.  Talking about these struggles openly makes room and space for others to do so as well.

 

4. Be aware of language

Instead of saying words like “crazy” or “nuts” or “cuckoo”, or even saying things like “he’s bipolar” or “she’s depressed”, say things like “he has symptoms of bipolar disorder” or “those who have schizophrenic symptoms”.  This begins to identify the person as separate and distinct from the condition.

 

5. Support people who are struggling. 

Reach out to someone you know is having difficulty with anxiety, depression, or even a psychotic episode. Let them know you are there.  

 

 

 

 

*May is Mental Health Month and in support of our community, Mind Body Align is offering several FREE resources! Check it out here! 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gifting for the Love Languages

Gifting for the Love Languages

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, we all have a “love tank” inside of us. When the love tank is full, we feel connected, supported, and secure. When the love tank is empty, we feel disconnected, alone, and insecure. But how do you fill someone else’s love tank? You learn what their love language is and you use it to communicate how much they mean to you. It’s equally important that you understand your own love language. This way, you will know how to communicate to your loved ones what it is that you need to feel appreciated and secure.  

But what if their language is different from yours? Or perhaps you don’t exactly know what to do with the information? These concerns can create unnecessary stress when it comes time to acknowledge them with a gift or expression of love. No one needs MORE stress in their life. That’s why we’ve used the 5 Love Languages to curate a gift guide that is intentional and reflects each of the languages uniquely. 

 

Words of Affirmation

 

People with this as their top love language need words to help them feel loved. Choose gifts that make statements and show that you recognize an important aspect of them. 

Gift Ideas: 

ThoughtFull Pop-Open Cards- Each of these themed boxes come with 30 unique quotes. Stash them throughout their belongings to create a fun and unexpected surprise. Popping open the card is super satisfying and their small size makes them perfect to carry in your pocket or bag. 

Write Now Journals- These journals have beautiful and inspirational quotes on the cover and throughout the pages. A lover of words will surely appreciate the ability to keep their own words close by while being inspired by iconic quotes and poems. 

 

Physical Touch

 

The Touch love language is about the physical sensation that comes from a meaningful connection. Pick textural gifts that evoke a strong touch memory of you. 

Gift Ideas: 

Shawls/ Wraps/Blankets/Pillows- The key here is to find items that have a distinct texture and relate to something they already love. If they love to read in their favorite chair, perhaps a cozy shawl or wrap would be nice. If they love to Netflix and relax – a breathable blanket with some weight can help them unwind, if they’ve recently experienced a significant transition in their life, a weighted heart pillow can provide comfort in times of need. 

Sacred Heart Stones – These little trinkets are perfect for a pocket and can easily be retrieved and rubbed with their thumb when they miss you or need to feel comforted. 

 

Quality Time

 

QT people need you to make time for them. Gift them items that come with a follow-up event or date. 

Gift Ideas:

Yoga/meditation supplies + classes: a new yoga mat or bag, perhaps an eye pillow. Commit to attending a class with them by purchasing a class pass in advance. 

Books + discussion- Books are great for self-care but you can show your loved ones that you care by reading the same book and making time for discussion. Think about books that reflect their interests or will strengthen your relationship: The Mindful Couple, Awakened Relating, or The Untethered Soul. 

 

Acts of Service

 

Acts of Service speakers feel loved when you do something nice for them that makes their life easier or better. Think about gifts that will enhance their goals or free up their schedule so that they can pursue the things they really enjoy. 

Gift ideas: 

Wellness Kits:  Has your loved one been sick? Are they hoping to get healthy in the new year? Gift them a hand-curated wellness kit, complete with bath bombs, handmade soaps, reusable water bottles, wellness patches, etc. 

Prompted Journaling- Journaling is incredibly rewarding but busy people may find it to be a chore. Help them reap the benefits of journaling by gifting them a prompted journal such as Calm the Chaos,   I am here now, or 52 Weeks of Gratitude.

 

Receiving Gifts

 

This language may seem like the easiest one but in fact, can be the most stressful. Gifters are usually excellent at gifting meaningful items to their loved ones so you may feel pressure to make the same kind of effort. The key here is to take note of what brings them joy. Big or small, a meaningful gift will go a long way with this love language. 

Gift Ideas:

Unique Finds: trendsetters love a unique find. Think jewelry with a story such as a Mala prayer necklace or a stone bracelet charged in a Sedona energy vortex. 

Conscious Living- Think about items that do good in the world: reusable paper towels, glass water bottles, or fair-trade items such as bags and rugs. 

Holistic and Mindful Living: gift items that will help them with their practice such as a singing bowl, meditation chime, or a crystal grid.

 

 

Take the FREE Love Language Quiz here

All of the above-mentioned gift ideas can be found at the Butterfly House retail shop. Visit us on Tu-Friday from 10 am – 5 pm or email mary@mindbodyalign.com to have a custom gift package put together for you. 

 

Upcoming Event

Girls Night In: 

The Power of Self-Compassion

February 28th  

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Note from Jen: A “Whole” Approach to 2020

A Note from Jen: A “Whole” Approach to 2020

I invite you to join me in this moment.

 

Right here.

Right now.

Breathing in and breathing out.

Breathing in and breathing out.

One more breath.

In and out. 

 

And, Hello! Welcome to February!  

 

2020 is the year of whole living at Mind Body Align. It’s an entire year of exploration and non-judgemental examination into each area of our lives. We will focus on different topics through our Coffee Talks, podcasts, blogs, and social community. Our intention is that each month’s focus will offer you the possibility of standing confidently in your best life.  Some of us may dive deep and others may hover near the surface, and it’s all ok. If you attended our most recent Coffee Talk I’m guessing that you have already put some thought into the topic of wholeness and what it means to you. If the concept is new, I invite you to read Annamarie’s blog post to begin your journey. 

What does a “whole life” look like? Creating a life that is whole and fulfilling does not mean perfection. It is not tied to euphoric happiness. It is an underlying feeling of contentment and acceptance. Mindfulness is an awareness and acceptance of what is. 

In going through the exercise of examining the whole of your world, there is no expectation or implied striving for balance.  Personally, I have never found my life to be in balance. This used to create a lot of mental suffering, guilt, and self-recrimination. Practicing mindfulness has alleviated these feelings and my hope is that you will find transformation through mindfulness as well. 

 

Take the first step.

 

January’s 10,000 Step Challenge may have been that first step for you.  We had an amazing amount of engagement in the community. It has been fabulous to see people moving, connecting, encouraging each other, and forming new friendships through this challenge. I can’t wait to announce the grand prizes and meet everyone in person at our meetup at Phoenix Brewery on Thursday, February 6th between 5:30 & 7:00. P.S. Keep your eye out for some great content and ideas to keep the momentum from the group going!

Perhaps this year you need to focus energy on professional development. LunchWISE Wednesday kicked off the new year in January with the topic of Imposter Syndrome. It really seemed to resonate; I am still receiving emails and comments. We hear you and our planning team is reaching new heights to bring you inspired, relevant topics. Our February LW is featuring Holly Troupe, owner of The Boot Life.  Holly is going to talk to us about diversifying and succeeding in your market. If you have been looking for new ways to expand your business or side hustle you will want to check this event out! 

I also invite you to check out the events highlighted below, listen to the Second Sip podcast with life coach, Chris Stoner (it’s EPIC), and then meet up with us at the next Coffee Talk featuring accomplished leadership and executive coach, Cindy Biggs as we begin diving into perfectionism and what it means to be perfectly imperfect.

 

Have a wonderful month!

 

Jen

 

Journey to New Perspectives: An Exploration of the Heart

Journey to New Perspectives: An Exploration of the Heart

Have you ever considered your “quality of life” from a whole-self perspective or considered the elements which create a happy and purposeful life? Possibly you have been gauging your personal success or failure against markers established by family, friends, or social networks. How do we know if our goals and resolutions are coming from our hearts, leading us to fulfillment, growth, and purpose, or if they are coming from habits or beliefs that no longer serve us?  What I intend to create with this conversation is the opportunity to explore our hearts for the truth. Let’s take time to take a journey to a new perspective. 

What would you see if you could remove from your awareness the habits, beliefs and unrequited dreams that keep you stuck? I mean really, who would you be and what would you know about yourself? Perhaps there is a way to actively move forward in creating your best life by subtly shifting your focus.

Let’s begin:  take an honest look at where you are now.

 

I have attached a Wheel of Wellbeing.  Where are you right now? Mark on this wheel from 0 to 10, 0 being no satisfaction and 10 being great satisfaction, in each category.  Please note, that there is no judgment that 0 is bad and 10 is good, it is simply an acknowledgment of what is happening in your life at this moment.  It’s important to note that each season of our life requires sacrifice. My hope is that you will approach this exercise with self-compassion. And, please read Mary’s recent blog for an amazing perspective and understanding of the seasons and sacrifices of life.

 

Next: create attainable goals using things that bring us joy.

 

Start with colored pens, (4 sheets) paper or chalkboard and colored chalks (I use lots of colors to make it visually fun). Sit quietly in contemplation or listen to your favorite “feel good” music. Write everything you love about yourself. “I love my nose, toes, ability to relate to people, health, strong voice, etc.” Remember to focus on things you love about yourself; listing things related to your mind, body, and spirit.

On another sheet of paper or a different section of the chalkboard, note everything that you love about your life. “I love my spouse, children, time that I have to read, time and money that I have to travel, that people trust me, etc.” The key to being authentic in this list is that you feel love as you recall these people and life experiences.

On the third sheet of paper or area of the chalkboard, select one person you love – again, allow yourself to feel love as you recall this person – and list everything you love about them. 

Now, you have three different lists: love of self, love of life, love of an individual. Put the elements of this list into categories that coincide with the 8 categories in the wheel of wellbeing: personal relationship, love relationships, personal growth, leisure and play, environment, life purpose, physical health, and financial health.  Feel free to add or change the title of a category as it suits you. 

 

Just one thing more.

 

Finally, based on what already brings you love and satisfaction in each category, ask yourself this question. What is one thing I can do that will bring even more love to this area of my life? Just one thing.

Now, here is a crucial part. This “one thing,” the one action you can create to bring even more love, must come from the heart or gut-brain and not the brain in our head. Our thinking mind will look first to what it doesn’t want and where you “aren’t good enough,” and second, to provide an answer for “improvement.” Are you with me? For this exercise to be authentic, you will want to allow the answer to unfold; to arrive in your mind while being immersed in the sense of loving and being loved. You will know the best action when the contemplation of it brings you joy.

 

So, let’s review.

 

What is one thing you can do to enhance what you already love about the 8 categories in the wheel of wellbeing: personal relationship, love relationship, personal growth, leisure and play, environment, life purpose, physical health, and financial health.

So much of who we are at this moment is a collection of habits and beliefs gathered throughout the years and decades of our life. Real growth doesn’t have to be difficult, and living your best life can be achieved by shifting your focus, and actively moving forward toward fulfillment.

Are you willing to take a journey to discover yourself anew? I look forward to hearing about your experience.

A Holiday Meditation

A Holiday Meditation

Each week our team at Mind Body Align gathers on Tuesday afternoons for a brief group mindfulness meditation. It’s a chance to connect not just as colleagues but as humans “being”.  This was my week to lead and I really felt pulled toward this fabulous meditation from Jack Kornfield as our monthly topic of gratitude was coming to a close plus we are all about to celebrate Thanksgiving.

I love the way it reminds us to begin our gratitude meditation by recognizing the way we feel and how we have cared for ourselves, then we express gratitude for all things and finally we move to express gratitude for others and wish them joy.

We were so moved by the words that we began our Coffee Talk with the meditation and now we want for you to be able to access it throughout the holiday season and beyond.

Meditation on Gratitude and Joy by Jack Kornfield

Let yourself sit quietly and at ease. Allow your body to be relaxed and open, your breath natural, your heart easy. Begin the practice of gratitude by feeling how year after year you have cared for your own life. Now let yourself begin to acknowledge all that has supported you in this care:

With gratitude I remember the people, animals, plants, insects, creatures of the sky and sea, air and water, fire and earth, all whose joyful exertion blesses my life every day.

With gratitude I remember the care and labor of a thousand generations of elders and ancestors who came before me.

I offer my gratitude for the safety and well-being I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the blessing of this earth I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the measure of health I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the family and friends I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the community I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the teachings and lessons I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the life I have been given.

Just as we are grateful for our blessings, so we can be grateful for the blessings of others.

Continue to breathe gently. Bring to mind someone you care about, someone it is easy to rejoice for. Picture them and feel the natural joy you have for their well-being, for their happiness and success. With each breath, offer them your grateful, heartfelt wishes:

May you be joyful.

May your happiness increase.

May you not be separated from great happiness.

May your good fortune and the causes for your joy and happiness increase.

Sense the sympathetic joy and caring in each phrase. When you feel some degree of natural gratitude for the happiness of this loved one, extend this practice to another person you care about. Recite the same simple phrases that express your heart’s intention.

Then gradually open the meditation to include neutral people, difficult people, and even enemies until you extend sympathetic joy to all beings everywhere, young and old, near and far.

Practice dwelling in joy until the deliberate effort of practice drops away and the intentions of joy blend into the natural joy of your own wise heart.

You can read the original post on Jack Kornfield’s website here