Anchor Your Day ~ a mental health blog by Counselwise ~

Anchor Your Day

Thank you for visiting! The purpose of this blog is to provide short, daily counsel on a variety of topics and interesting facts about mental health. We all live busy lives which is why the focus of this blog is to have something relatively quick to read; it can act as an “anchor to your day” so to speak. If you would like to have this blog sent to your email directly on a daily basis, please follow the link below (you can unsubscribe at any time) and join me on the path to self-care. 

The Wisdom of Dr. Seuss

Author of 46 children’s books, Dr. Seuss left behind his spirited personality in his poetry and playful use of words. Here are five of my favourite quotes:

  • “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” – Dr. Suess
  • “Think! You can think any Think that you wish!” – Dr. Seuss
  • “It’s opener there in the wide open air.” – Dr. Seuss
  • “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” – Dr. Seuss
  • “You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.” – Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss gave us permission to just be – to be ourselves, to enjoy life and laughter and adventure. We can always use a little bit of Dr. Seuss in our day 🙂

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Assertiveness and Being Heard

In our third and final post about assertivness, we look to being heard. To be honest, this is a tricky one.  Sometimes we do so much work on finding our courage to voice our opinion, or tell someone how we feel, that we make an automatic assumption that the person we talk to about our needs is going to respond accordingly. And that doesn’t always happen. As a result, we can feel deflated and ask ourselves, “Why even bother?’

The fact is, you can’t change another person and sometimes their habits have become their automatic reactions. We need to learn to find our voice for the sake of making ourselves important; of placing our needs in the running for appropriate attention. I like to remind clients that we must “reward the effort, not the outcome.” We can certainly hope for some good changes and a positive reaction, but the reward is in having recognized our needs and then stating them.

That being said, when we do find the courage to state our needs or our feelings about something, the trick is to do it calmly. Using anger or a sharp tone will fall on deaf ears and the message is lost. The best probability of success will come when we remain calm and stick to the facts; this tends to carry the most weight.

As Dr. Jonice Webb states, “Assertiveness is: Speaking up for yourself — in a way that the other person can hear.” A good definition to keep in mind.

To visit Dr. Jonice Webb’s website: https://drjonicewebb.com/

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@itookthose

 

Assertiveness and Your Voice

Building on yesterday’s post and the description given to us about assertiveness by Dr. Jonice Webb, we can break down the two individual parts to the definition: “Assertiveness is: Speaking up for yourself — in a way that the other person can hear.” 

(As a note: although this definition of assertiveness was pulled from the article I cited in yesterday’s blog post, the rest of this post is my writing only.)

The first part of that statement refers to the process of finding our voice. When we speak up for our self, we begin by being able to recognize what our needs are. Sometimes that means slowing down before we say yes, before we allow ourselves to react, before we make a decision. It means that we begin by processing our feelings – knowing if we have enough energy to agree to something, thinking about how someone else’s behaviour or choice affected us or made us feel, what our opinion might be about something.

Very often, our habits become our reactions. Immediately saying yes to a request, or saying “It doesn’t matter,” – when it does. The first step in being able to have a voice is to first recognize what our needs are. From there, we can not only work up the courage to state our needs, we can do so in a way that allows us to be heard.

To visit Dr. Jonice Webb’s website: https://drjonicewebb.com/

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The Missing Piece to Being Assertive

In an article entitled, “Why is it So Hard to Be Assertive? 5 Skills You Learn” by Dr. Jonice Webb, she writes about the importance of knowing the true meaning of assertiveness. I quote:

“Why is it so hard to be assertive? There are some very good reasons why it’s such a struggle for so many.The first reason is that lots of people think they know exactly what assertiveness is, but they actually only know half of the definition. That missing half makes a huge difference. Assertiveness is: Speaking up for yourself — in a way that the other person can hear. These two aspects of assertiveness, and how they work together, are what make assertiveness a skill which must be learned, rather than a natural ability. Most people have a hard time with the first half or with the second half, and many folks struggle with both. Also, our ability to be assertive varies with the situation, the people involved, and the amount of emotion that we are feeling at the time.”

This article resonates for me in that it focuses on the two areas we must consider when becoming more assertive; the first area, being able to recognize our needs and the second, being able to express them in a way that we feel heard. We will take the next two posts to look at each area so as to gain a greater understanding of this valuable skill.

In the meantime, check out Dr. Webb’s full article: https://drjonicewebb.com/why-is-it-so-hard-to-be-assertive-5-skills-you-can-learn/

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@wwwynand

 

 

Five Things That Tell You You’re Doing the Work

We like to say in therapy that it’s about “doing the work.” The understanding piece is important in getting there; so is self-reflection; but at some point we have to roll up our sleeves and dig in. Here are five ways to know if you’re doing the work:

  • Not immediately placing blame when reacting to something. This means you are taking the time to evaluate how you reacted, why you are having that response, and how you want to move forward in dealing with situation.
  • Creating new coping strategies. This process first begins by being able to recognize old ways of coping that may have protected you in the past, but are no longer serving you.
  • Creating clear boundaries. This includes learning how to say no, putting drama in it’s place, and learning which relationships to cultivate and those you need to manage.
  • Accountability. Not only for your own choices, but for the behaviour of others as well. It is about learning to carry only what is ours.
  • Self-care. You got it! You are doing the work when you can recognize your worth and celebrate it with time set aside for self-care.

Exploration is only piece of the process. “Doing the work” is another 🙂

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Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s; 5 Tips

September is World Alzheimer’s Month. A time when we can recognize and appreciate both those struggling to manage with Alzheimer’s and those who care for them. Because Alzheimer’s disease causes brain cells to degenerate, it slows down cognition; it will inevitably also cause behaviour changes in our loved ones. Here are some tips for caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s:

  • Keep things simple. Say  or do one thing at a time; very often what gets lost in dementia is the stringing together of sentences or tasks. You can also get them to help, “Let’s walk to the mailbox,” or “Why don’t you help me fold the socks.”
  • Give gentle reminders of their basic needs. People with Alzheimer’s often will forget to eat or drink; they have balance issues so require sturdy shoes and space to navigate. They will eventually need assistance with their hygiene and staying on task to shower or wash up.
  • Keep in mind that their behavioural changes are caused by their disease. This will require some patience as they may begin to show anger more easily, become fretful and repetitive, act in ways that indicate they feel depressed or sad. Arguing or trying to reason with someone who has dementia is often futile; you are better served to keep your own frustration in check – take a deep breath, count to 10, take a short break if necessary.
  • Focus on safety. Having Alzheimer’s will often make a person feel unsafe and vulnerable. Reassuring them that they are safe when they become agitated will help.
  • Try to incorporate what brings them comfort. Play their favourite music, bring back TV shows they watched in their childhood, play simple card games, etc.

Living with Alzheimer’s is a difficult and grief-filled road; for both those affected and their caregivers. Learning how to navigate both the cognitive and behavioural changes that accompany the illness will help in processing your own emotions as a caregiver.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s: https://alzheimer.ca/en/Home

To get help if you live in Renfrew County: https://dementiahelp.ca/

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@tuti_hi

 

The Deeper Meaning of Clutter

I came across this quote:

“You can’t reach for anything new if your hands are full of yesterday’s clutter.” – Louise Smith

Although I suspect that the deeper meaning of this quote is about how being stuck in our past can hinder our future, I like the quote for its tangible reference to clutter.

It is interesting to me how many clients, when having achieved a sense of movement forward, will often begin by cleaning their homes of its clutter. They will admit that their houses have been neglected, that they have stopped putting effort into the organization of their  everyday environment. Just as their effort to organize their own lives has fallen to the wayside.

Our homes are often a reflection of how we feel inside; as a result, it is often part of our human experience to adjust our environment with life changing events. We can begin to organize and “build the nest” when we are expecting a baby, just like we can re-organize rooms during our empty nest phase. After a separation, we re-do our bedroom as a way to reclaim the space.

When we begin to feel as though we are back on the right track, we want our home to be tidier, neater. By reducing the clutter, we reduce the things that do not matter, focusing instead on meaning, purpose and ultimately a feeling of contentment. Looking about at our neater space, we can feel a certain satisfaction that we feel rooted to the space around us, bringing us comfort and a feeling of faith in ourselves.

There is a deeper meaning to clutter 🙂

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@danielcgold

 

3 ways of Holding Space for Others

What does it mean to ‘hold space’ for another person? Sometimes a loved one comes to us with their challenges or their concerns. Sometimes it can be about something we may have done that has upset them; other times they may be sharing an experience outside of their relationship to us. Essentially, when we hold space for someone, our intention is to be present and invested to their experience. 3 ways to achieve this include:

  • Place your intention in listening as to understand what they are saying, not as to respond. In other words, when you hold space for someone, it isn’t necessarily to give advice or to tell them what you would do (unless they specifically ask.) Your intention is simply to listen so that you can gain an understanding of what they are going through.
  • Trust that they can take care of themselves. This can be a tough one if you are holding space for your child, or someone who tends to land in a ‘poor me’ place a lot. It means being aware of your own need to fix, be responsible for, judge their experience. Part of holding space for others includes believing that they have the ability to take care of their own needs and choose their own direction.
  • Help by naming their emotions. Sometimes people get trapped in the expanse of their emotions. Holding space for someone can be about gently pointing out what they are reflecting to you by way of deeper emotions. An example might be “I can see how angry this is making you; perhaps it is also making you feel sad.” Sometimes naming the emotion helps to bring it to the surface.

Holding space for someone is about intention. It is a lovely gift that we can give to others; it is a lovely gift to receive.

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@marcobian

 

A Little Reminder about Fear

I came across this writing by Brianna Wiest:

“Of all the things you can clean and fix in your life, fear is not one of them. It will always be there, a gentle humming undercurrent to whatever it is you do. It can be loud or it can be soft. You can try to hold it back or you can learn to coexist with it, to nod to it as you pull away from the shore. You cannot cleanse yourself from fear, nor should you. It’s how you learn to live in spite of it, the mental strength you develop to listen to your best self, not your most scared one, that will be the point of your evolution. Your fear is not a problem you can fix. It is part of you, as valid as all the rest, that needs to be cared for, and settled with, and slowly quieted over time.”

Fear is an innate feeling, tied to our survival brain; as a result, we are geared to look for danger, both real and perceived. But we can work with fear, we can examine it, question it. We can use curiousity to temper it. We can work to quiet it over time.

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5 Tips on How to Stop Appeasing People

Yesterday’s post talked about why we might appease someone. Once we recognize that this might be a part of how we communicate, we can begin to work on healthier strategies. Here are 5 tips on how to potentially stop appeasing people:

  1. Recognize that you have a choice. If we are appeasing others because we fear their rejection, or worry that they will be angry at us, it often feels that we don’t have a choice. Reality tells us we do. The moment we moved into adulthood we became in charge of ourselves, our actions, our mistakes, our successes and our ability to choose.
  2. Examine your relationships. If you have people in your life who tend to be controlling or manipulative, you may have learned that appeasing them was easier than setting a boundary. Examining your relationships is a good way to determine if you may need to make some adjustments as to how much you give to them.
  3. Know your triggers. If you recognize that appeasment comes as a trauma response, begin to work with your triggers to calm your system. This will allow your rational brain to temper the fear response that automatically rears itself to protect you.
  4. Know what you own. Someone else’s anger is their responsibility; if you appease them because of it, they learn that anger is an effective way of getting what they want. That being said, protect yourself from abuse – physical, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse – all of it is not okay.
  5. Practice saying no. Start with a trusted friend or therapist – by practicing with them (and role playing more difficult responses), one can gain confidence in learning how to say “I’m sorry, not this time.”

When we do things out of kindness, or make a thoughtful decision to take the high road, we are feeding our internal spirit. When we people please or appease others, we take away something of ourselves. Learning how to stand a little straighter will help us along in our journey to be true to ourselves.

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@lazycreekimages