"Practice smiling more. Look at others and in the mirror. See what reaction you get. My hope is its contagious." - jessica nickels
In a recent lunch and learn series at a worksite, I covered the topic popular stress. In this specific session, I discuss how humor can help reduce stress!
Bad news, one in three of us deal with worry, stress or pain on daily basis. Good news, about 71% of us smile or laugh on a daily basis. How does this news connect? It shows us that even though we are exposed to negative emotion and experience, we are also experiencing positivity. Science supports a 5 to 1 ratio. Meaning it takes 5 positive experiences to outweigh 1 negative experience. The best news is that these experience do not have to be extravagant, like a vacation (though that would be nice).
Today we are going to explore 3 simple and positive solutions to adding more smiles and laughs to our our day.
1. Expose yourself to positivity more.
Practical application, ask yourself these questions:
2. Seek out the humor in the moment.
Our brain is sensitive to negative experiences. It goes back to the day when we had to be alert of the big harry mammoth or other life threats. When we had to be alert of all threats to our being. Our brain really hasn’t changed and reacts just the same. Instead, the big harry mammoth is a stressful email from your boss. However, today we have the knowledge to change our perspective and reaction.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you have a goal to be healthier and to you. that means exercising more. It’s Monday night and you get to the gym and the parking lot is packed. Your immediate reaction is “OMG I can’t find a parking spot!” (harry mammoth).
This is when you hit the pause button and ask yourself, "What is funny about this?" The reality is there are several spots in the back of the lot open, but you don’t want to walk to get to your workout. Put simply, you don’t want to exercise before you exercise. That’s funny!
Give it a try yourself and complete this chart.
What are some chronic threats that cause you think negatively?
Is there humor in those threats? If so, what is it?
3. Fake it until your brain makes it.
The muscles in our face send a message to our brain to release the hormone endorphin, which helps make us feel good and reduce stress hormones like cortisol. Smiling also makes us more desirable to be around, which attracts fun people! Practice smiling more. Look at others and in the mirror. See what reaction you get. My hope is it’s contagious.
Like any change, this takes practice to build into a daily habit. Remember, this should be a positive experience, so if seeking smiles and laughs is stressful, ask for help!
Interested in bringing the Stress Series to your worksite? Contact me to set it up!
Jessica Nickels, Counseling Intern
Expectations can lead to disappointment. What we often fail to do is live life in the middle of it. We are so focused on the end goal that we MISS the life! - ROBIN HELGET
Our realities are formed by the thoughts of how life should be in our head.
The thoughts in our head can make or break us. For years, many of my clients and practically everyone I've had an honest conversation with, have struggled with something I call the “inner critic” or for some, “inner demons”. This critic is the voice that tells you how things could be better, creates expectations of how life or circumstances should be, or tells you that you are consistently missing the mark. It tells you that you can’t yet rest or be happy because you have to get “there” first--wherever “there” may be.
This critic is often a primary player in depression, anxiety, and trauma. If we listen to it long enough, the words of the critic start to become our truth. We believe what the critic tells us so much that we become unsatisfied with our lives and constantly beat ourselves up for making small mistakes, eating the cookie, yelling at our kids, or snapping at our significant others.
Have you ever been really excited about something? Something that you have been looking forward to for a long time? Maybe it was an event, a date, seeing a person or saving and buying an item. Or, maybe it was getting married, buying a house, having a baby. You created so much hype around this particular thing, envisioning what it would be like, how you would feel, and what you maybe would say. However, you quickly found yourself disappointed or frustrated. This was going to make you so happy! So why do you feel worse than you did before?
Expectations can lead to disappointment. What we often fail to do is live life in the middle of it. We are so focused on the end goal: of the event, of the day, of the baby, of the man, of the marriage, of the house, of the job, of the life--that we MISS the life! Focusing on the destination often leads to lack of fulfillment. Why?
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT
Millennial Therapist & Coach
“Without the human community, one single human being cannot survive.” -Dalai Lama
In modern times, frightfully, we have the ability to go through an entire day without actually interacting face to face with another human. We can work remotely, get our groceries delivered, pay someone to pick up our laundry off of our front step and can text our friends and family members instead of inviting them over. We have all struggled with staying connected in a world that facilitates disconnection- scrolling on our phones when out with friends, not saying hello to our neighbors and forgetting to call our family members on their birthdays. Sometimes our days are too hectic or packed too full of to-do’s to stay connected, but as our autonomy increases our human connection decreases and we oftentimes find ourselves isolated and lonely.
Loneliness not only makes us feel blue, it can also shorten our lifespan. According to Dr. Vivek Murthy, the 19th Surgeon General to the US, weak social connections and loneliness can reduce a persons lifespan at the same rate as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Murthy also stated that, “During (his) years caring for patients, the most common pathology (he) saw was not heart disease or diabetes; it was loneliness.”
The antidote for loneliness is clear: its connection, real life, face to face, genuine connection. And not just connecting with anyone who is around but connecting with your “tribe”. Your tribe is a group of people who you have carefully picked to be a part of the intimate parts of your life, the people who support you and whom you support. They may or may not be your family, your neighbors, your high school friend or your co-workers.
Below are some steps to cultivating and maintaining your tribe:
Amber Reed, LSCSW, LMAC
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” – John Steinbeck
Last month, I shared the basics of self-care: its importance, why we struggle with it, and simple techniques to begin implementing into everyday life. If you need a refresher, check it out here!
This month, let’s take a deeper look into the different components and categories of self- care.
Self-care can consist of physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, relationship, and professional self-care. However, self-care by nature is unique, personal, and distinct to you so some of these categories may not resonate with you or maybe you have others that aren’t listed. These six aspects of self-care are a great starting point to begin viewing your health holistically and ever-evolving.
To assess your current levels of self-care, I encourage you to fill out this worksheet.
Each of these six categories play an important role in your life. Our physical health impacts our mood, ability, and overall health, while our psychological state directly influences the amount of creativity, problem-solving, and information processing we can produce. Our emotional and spiritual wellbeing powers our confidence and centeredness with ourselves and others. Relationship or social self-care is crucial in determining our levels of connectedness with others, arguably the strongest desire in humans. Professional self-care has become more and more important as our work and personal lives become more intertwined and woven together as one and as standards are constantly rising to perform.
While your environment may change constantly throughout the day, one thing remains constant: you. You have the power and the choice to determine how your energy and time is allocated. Prioritize yourself equally among your family, friends, and work. Begin by creating your own self-care wheel with ways in which you fill your self-care bucket, one category at a time. Once you have a picture of what it looks like when you’re balanced, use the wheel to guide your self-care activities when one area may be lacking.
Self-care is a habit that we must practice into existence. As with any new skill, be patient and allow yourself some grace. And most importantly, remember that you’re worth taking care of yourself.
“You are your own worst enemy. If you can learn to stop expecting impossible perfection, in yourself and others, you may find the happiness that has always eluded you.”
You’ve had a tough, long day at work. You’re driving home and envisioning walking in the door, leaving the stress of the day at the door, and having dinner ready on the table. But when you walk in, no one has started preparing dinner. Your chest immediately tightens; your patience disappears, and your anger rises.
Expectations are powerful.
We plan out the future in our minds and create viable options for whichever scenario unfolds. Expectations are a method of comforting ourselves and creating a false sense of control over an unknown situation. However, when our expectations aren’t met, we’re often left with disappointment, resentment, sadness, and anger – the infamous feelings that give expectations such a bad reputation.
We’ve all heard the phrases “don’t get your hopes up” and “if you don’t have any expectations, you won’t be disappointed.” Another common one is “should”: “I should have eaten better today” or “I should be able to handle all of this.” Each of these phrases sends the following false messages about expectations:
But what if the problem didn’t lie in the expectation itself, but rather in how we were dealing with it?
We can’t change our brain’s ability to create expectations, but we can change what we do with them and how much power we give them. Instead of avoiding expectations out of fear, we can focus on learning how to better manage our expectations and use them in a positive, constructive, and healthy manner.
Resolve Counseling & Wellness
Valentine's Day Part One
"loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we can ever do." - brene brown
Many of us grew up watching or reading about fairytales--all about the stories of the princesses and princes who fell in loved and lived in this world of “Happily Ever After”. Many of us were taught that the goal in life was to find and be with a “true love”, a one person you were supposed to be with for the rest of your life.
Thankfully, in 2018, many of these beliefs and norms have changed, but for some of us the pressure of being married, staying married, or not-even-close-to-married weighs on our shoulders--especially around Valentine’s Day. If you’ve been divorced or widowed, this reading will still apply, and I know that today along with many other days may be extra difficult.
If you’ve found your true love, if you’re with your true love, if you’re seeking your true love, or if you’ve lost your true love, I have four words that will help you: look in the mirror.
So, today, on this Valentine’s Day and whatever this day means for you, remember to look in the mirror. Remember to speak kindly to the person you see staring back at you, to offer grace for all the hard things going on in her life, and to really see her. Say “Hello.” Say “I love you”. Say “I got this.”
Here are a few of my favorite self-love activities you can do today:
Make sure to check out the blog on Thursday for the Part 2 Series called “Valentine’s Day: The Aftermath”.
**Robin is offering a new client special for life coaching! For any NEW client, enjoy 50% off your first Life Coaching session. Join the rest of Millennials on a mission to create a more fulfilled and balanced life. Schedule online and put VALENTINE’S DAY in the “Comments” section to claim the discount!
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT
"Accepting the notion that each person has some form of genius will not solve all the problems of life, but it can give more people the courage to develop a life of meaning and find ways to contribute to the world. everyone already has some talent or vision; what is rare is to find the courage to follow one's vision all the way to the destination to which it aims." -Michael mead, The GENIUS MYTH
Take a minute to remember your childhood. Think about the way you learned about success, about your purpose, or about your place in the world. Think about the ways in which you were taught about how you were supposed to behave, to act, to grow, to learn, and to be in different settings. Were you allowed to be yourself? Were you supposed to fit into a mold of an expectation?
Think about those expectations now. Do you still try to fit into the mold of who you think you should be? Did you reach the successful job, the house with the picket fence, the kids? Did you reach the expectation of having good friends, a stable income? If you have reached these, you may be happy. In all actuality, you’re expected to be happy once you’ve achieved these milestones in life. But what if you’re not? Happy, I mean. What if you’ve achieved all these things that you were taught you were supposed to have to be happy, and yet, there still is a part of you that feels missing?
Many of us confuse the need for achievement with the need for fulfillment. Achievement is more of a measurable concept. You set measurable goals for yourself, such as reaching $60k per year, and once you reach it, you’ve “achieved” that goal. At the same time, you may have set this goal for yourself with the idea that once you get there you’re going to be happy. What many people find is that they are achieving their goals, maybe even surpassing them, but it’s never enough. Once you hit $60k, you shoot for $100k and THEN you’ll be happy. Once you hit $100k, you shoot for $200k and THEN you’ll be happy. See a pattern? It’s a never-ending ladder that you’re always trying to get to the top to, except there never is an end.
Fulfillment comes from using your inner gifts. Fulfillment comes from knowing who you are and knowing what you want, the person you want to become, the purpose you were created to fulfill here on earth. Fulfillment is the feeling that of peace--that you know there is meaning in your actions, in your beliefs, and in the way you think. Many people have spent so much of their life reaching toward achievement that they have neglected what would fulfill them--what it would mean to live a life of meaning and purpose.
If you’re reading this and thinking “That’s me”, know that you aren’t alone and that millions of people are feeling the exact same way. Instead of focusing on the fact that you are unfulfilled, think about some steps that you can take in order to work toward developing this in yourself.
Ask yourself some of these questions:
“What am I good at?”
“What do I enjoy doing?”
“If I could do anything in the world, with nothing stopping me, what would it be?”
Or maybe you need to start smaller:
“What traits do I have that make me me?”
“What makes me different from the person standing next to me?”
“What makes me unique?”
Some of these questions can help get you started to making the changes to start living a life of fulfillment versus achievement. Once you start making the changes and feeling the difference, you will likely reach a level of achievement you never thought was possible. If you are struggling with these questions and would like some support along this journey, seeing a coach to help you find your meaning and purpose may be helpful.
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT
Millennial Coach & Therapist