Anchor Your Day ~ a mental health blog by Counselwise ~

Anxiety Fact #4

Anxiety does not last forever. Even though anxiety can feel very permanent in the moment, it is a temporary process and does decrease. It ebbs and flows, existing as part of our adaptive mind-body system; when we process what we are worried about, we can often move to a position of feeling calmer. In a past post, we learned that emotion tends to trump reason which will often allow our fears to take over; taking a few deep breaths and then asking ourselves “What can I do about this worry right now?” will help us to allow our rational mind to come in and have some influence over our emotion, therefore decreasing the anxiety.

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” – Corrie Ten Boom

Information for this post and a great website is:

Photo credit: http://Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

Make it Okay: Resource

I recently came across an organization named “Make it OK;” it’s aim: to educate the public about mental illness and to help put an end to the stigma that tends to be a concurrent issue for people who are brave enough to speak their truth. On the interactive website, you will find information about mental illness; did you know for example, that one in four people will develop a mental illness in their life time? They have quizzes to see if you recognize mental illness stigma and describe the tangibles of it such as “Exclusion. Telling someone to toughen up or snap out of it. Calling someone crazy. Treating mental illness as a fallacy for the lazy or attention starved.”

One part that I especially appreciate is the section that share people’s stories; you can watch videos or read about someone’s own experience with mental illness. Like Jess who spiraled into a depression and PTSD after the sudden death of her sister. When asked her advice as to how to help others, she stated, “Asking for help is hard but the stigma is reduced every time you speak out. You’re loved, you’re not alone, and it’s ok to show your emotions and be honest about how you’re doing. In fact, it’s imperative for you to be honest about that (for everyone who is struggling).”

Make it Ok gives out tips for generating conversation about mental illness; it even has a toolkit that can be downloaded that can help promote the message of their campaign.  To check out this great organization:

Photo credit: http://Photo by Jean-Philippe Delberghe on Unsplash


The Case for Tenderness

In a recent podcast that I was listening too entitled “Clear and Vivid with Alan Alda: Father Greg Boyle on Compassion, Kinship and Real Ways to Help Others,” Alan was speaking with Father Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, the world’s largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. I was stuck by the following passages that touches on the process of healing and how it can be generalized in many ways across the human experience.

“Part of [what we do at Homeboy] is healing, so you have to do the work, we want people to excavate their wounds if you will, they have to go back and become friends with their wounds and their own brokenness. We get trapped sometimes with the message that it is all about content but its really about context. Its a community of tenderness where they can feel some relief and some rest from their own chronic, toxic stress; so then they feel safe. They become their own sanctuary that they sought in you.”

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“The Three M’s”

I am borrowing this one from my friend and colleague, Darlene Denis-Friske. It is a strategy she likes to call the “three m’s” and it is related to our call to action when we are in a highly emotional state. If you recall from previous posts, emotion will trump reason every time and the more heightened you feel while caught up in that whirlwind of emotion, the more likely you are to succumb to saying or doing something you will regret after your emotional state returns to a calmer place.

If we can catch ourselves before we move to action (yes, it is possible; take a deep breath to start), we give ourselves permission to slow down, to give some space to it so as to allow our rational brain to have a say in how we want to handle ourselves. This is where the “three m’s” come into play, as we can ask ourselves “is my response mature, measured and matter-of-fact?” 

The beauty of these three words is that they carry a lot of weight. Your response is now developed, practical and sound; and with less emotion, you increase the probability of results. Further to this and regardless of the outcome, what is of even greater consideration is that by choosing the “three m’s” you have moved into the position of “I am important and so are you;” allowing yourself to have a voice while respecting the other. 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Christian Kaindl on Unsplash

Depression Fact #3

Persistent irritability can be a symptom of depression. Typically when we think of depression we tend to consider first the classic symptoms of depression such as low mood and motivation, changes to our sleeping and eating habits, etc., yet irritability can be an indication that you are depressed; especially if it is persistent.  This can be especially true for men, who may not show the visible signs of emotion linked to depression; the same goes for children or adolescents who may act out behaviourally as an indication that something is wrong.  In any case, if depressive symptoms are interfering with the day-to-day functioning of your life, a proper diagnosis is important.

For more information about the symptoms and treatment of depression:

Photo credit: http://Photo by FuYong Hua on Unsplash

Emotion Defined

The definition of emotion in my Webster’s dictionary is as follows: a strong feeling (such as wonder, love, sorrow, shame) often accompanied by a physical reaction (e.g. blushing or trembling).  In my Dictionary of Emotions by Patrick Michael Ryan, he states, “Emotions are subjective. Emotions help define our internal and external condition and experience.” 

Two rather interesting definitions of emotion that I found online at Urban Dictionary (a website where people upload their own definitions of words) was 1. by Mareena who stated “emotion: something that should be locked up in drawers, or simply kept in your pockets and 2. by RockandRollbabe who states “an inexplicable thing that makes you do stupid stuff that you will regret for the rest of your life.” Both appear to have originated from experience 🙂

And yet another definition is the Latin root word for emotion which is “to move.” The notion that no matter what you are feeling, there is an element of motion to it, a stirring up, a responsive sensation to an event or experience. Perhaps the idea we can take from this is in giving ourselves permission to allow for the flow of emotion, to simply accept our emotions as they come and go and not as a definition of who we are.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Brynden on Unsplash


“Just Say No”

Is not something you say to a people-pleaser. The thought of “just saying no” tends to work against every grain of their reinforced and automatic response of saying yes. That being said, when we always say yes, we put ourselves in a position of not being important; we have negated our own needs and the flexibility required in order to honour what works for us.

Ultimately, in order to move to a healthier position, we need to give ourselves permission to reflect on whether or not it works within our schedule and energy level to say yes.  An example would be “I will have to get back to you about this; I have to check on a few things.” This will give you the space to decide whether or not it works for you. If it does, great! But if you feel that you are sacrificing at your own expense by saying yes, you can move to “I’m sorry, but I can’t say yes this time.” Saying no gently is a good alternative because you are tempering the no; it doesn’t feel so rigid and final. Saying no may not feel natural or comfortable at first but that is okay; you will have begun the process of reinforcing a healthier position for yourself in the long run.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Kai Pilger on Unsplash


Happiness Revisited

In an article entitled “How I Stopped Chasing Happiness and Started Enjoying My Imperfect Life” by Mai Pham, featured on tinybuddha, Mai explores the assumption that achievement equals happiness. She talks about her own experience of having set goals, often driven to perfection, and upon achieving those goals felt ordinary when she expected to feel extraordinary. She noted “I blamed my achievements for my dissatisfaction—that they were not tremendous enough for me to feel happy. So I thought I had to do more. I found a new goal, and I fell into the trap again.”

She makes an interesting observation that in the process of trying to achieve success in order to find happiness, she lost sight of the most important goal of all which was to enjoy her life.

Very often, we are pulled into a frenetic pace, lulled into the dull belief that the more we have the happier we will be. If this becomes the driving force to our goals, we unfortunately miss out on the richer experiences and connections our life has to offer. I especially resonate with her statement that “Happiness is the direction we choose and the way we live our lives,” for it implies a slowing down of sorts; a choice to create goals that are less achievement oriented and more experience oriented; a balance between work and play, a shifted focus on self-care and the quality time we spend with the people we love. Happiness then, becomes less about achievement and more about contentment, enjoyment, peace.

To read the full article:

Photo credit: http://Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash


Anxiety Fact #3

Anxiety is not dangerous. Can it feel threatening? Sure it can; our fears often take over and it makes us feel as though we have no control. We call this thought process “catastrophic or worst-case scenario thinking” which at times, if left to its own devices, can lead to obsessive ruminating and/or a panic attack. But even panic attacks are not harmful or dangerous to us, even though they may feel that way.  Although there certainly is research that shows that chronic stress (which always carries with it anxiety) is, and can be harmful to our health, that is not the type I am referring to in this anxiety fact. Rather it is the act of anxiety itself that is not dangerous; it is a physiological response, one that can be calmed through the act of deep breathing.

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” – thich nhat hanh

Information for this post and a great website:

Photo credit: http://Photo by Geran de Klerk on Unsplash


Change it, Accept it or Leave It

Often times when a client is faced with an issue that they are struggling with, we will explore the concept of “Can I change it, accept it or leave it?” Many people have trouble accepting what they are unhappy with (which is often what has led them to therapy in the first place) and so they are bound somewhere in the process of trying to change it.

I have come to learn that out of those three choices, it tends to be in our human nature to try to change something first.  Very often, we will attempt to change someone else’s behaviour as this appears to be the most logical solution (sometimes pointing out or telling someone how we feel may be enough to want them to change.)  Unfortunately as many of us learn

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