It's no secret that a cluttered environment can have a significant impact on our mind. The mess can be distracting and bombard us with extra stimuli. Some of us respond by allowing the anxiety to build, while others succumb to the inescapable urge to immediately tackle the problem. Either way, the constant feeling of needing to clean can breed guilt and frustration. The good news is that there is a silver lining to our cleaning conundrum. When we finally adopt the habits needed to maintain a decluttered home, the mental impact can be magical.
At reflect, we're taking the advice of Japanese bestselling author, consultant, and the new star of Netflix's hot new show, Marie Kondo, who believes that tidying up is so life-changing, she wrote a New York Times #1 best-selling book. In it, she makes the case for minimalist living through a specific decluttering process.
By Jonathan TranPham, founder of reflect
Years ago when my roommate first suggested I go to therapy, let’s just say I didn’t respond with the most open mind.
I’d always been an advocate of therapy and have even recommended it to friends. But I never considered it for myself.
"BAD ENOUGH" FOR THERAPY?
I was sure I wasn't "bad enough" to need therapy. I was functioning overall and was used to managing stress solo. Sure, work was pretty hectic, and I wasn’t sleeping well -- but most of my friends had stressful jobs. And yes, I was frustrated with dating -- but who actually likes the dating scene in SF?
I knew I theoretically could benefit from therapy, but I was reluctant to even consider it. I was worried going to therapy would mean that I was weak or even worse, broken.
Looking back, I’m so glad my roommate pushed me to try.
She made some great points. I go to the gym 4-5x a week to stay physically fit, why shouldn’t I work on my mind too? And going to therapy was like going to the gym for my soul.
More than anything, hearing her personal personal experiences in therapy helped me understand what therapy actually was -- and what it wasn’t.
I decided to give it a try.
WHY DO I NEED A PITCH?
Crafting your elevator pitch is a fundamental part of being a dynamic therapist who affects change. For the therapist, the pitch synthesizes a sense of professional, philosophical, and ethical identity. Your pitch extends credibility for your potential client, making the transition into initiating therapy easier.
Naturally, taking time to create your brand pitch may seem as though it exists only for the sake of business. However, you are empowering your client to feel confident and in control of their decision when you are able to concisely articulate who you are and what you can do for them.
Practicing meditation is a great way to incorporate mental wellness into your life. Mindfulness cultivates one's ability to focus on the present without judgement. And research has shown that meditation not only relieves stress and anxiety, but it also improves brain function and creativity, reduce the signs of aging, as well as help you feel more connected, grounded, and appreciative of life. We love it as a great complement to regular therapy, or it can be a separate practice altogether.
Even limited practice has been shown to re-wire how your brain works for the better, including activating the left hippocampus (which assists in learning, cognition, memory, and emotional regulation), reducing the amygdala (the area regulating anxiety, fear and stress), and strengthening the temporo-parietal junction, or TPJ (associated with perspective taking, empathy and compassion).
Whether you are a beginner wondering how to get started or or already a serious meditator, there are now many great options to support your practice. Here are five of our faves in the San Francisco/Bay Area:
For the past 68 years, May has been observed as Mental Health Awareness Month to draw greater attention to and destigmatize behavioral health. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five adults struggles with a mental issue each year. And up to 70 percent (yes, seventy!) of primary care visits are mental health related. These are huge numbers. Chances are you or someone you know is dealing with something related to their mental health.
Each of us plays a vital role in the mental wellness of those around us, whether we realize it or not. Yet it can be challenging to translate mental health “awareness” into our daily lives. There's a lot you can do -- and it's easier than you think.
By Dr. Sadie Phillips, reflect’s head of therapy
2016 was rough for many reasons: an ugly and divisive political election in the US, Brexit, increased instability around the world, and the passing of some iconic stars including David Bowie, Prince, Nancy Reagan, Alan Thicke and in the last couple of weeks Zsa Zsa Gabor, George Michael, and mother/daughter Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher (within a day of each other). And that’s not even the full list.
In trying to make sense of the past year, I keep coming back to one of my favorite quotes:
I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.
By Jonathan TranPham, reflect founder
Every year on my flight home for the holidays, somewhere above Arizona, I get really excited.
I’m so busy with work and packing the days leading up to Christmas that the flight is usually my first quiet moment to think. And when I do, it hits me all at once. I feel like a kid waiting for Santa. I become giddy with the thought of spending time with family and friends and seeing all the pretty decorations that fill every street, mall, and house in Houston (yep, everything is bigger in Texas!).
Then inevitably about 72 hours later, deep in the haze of shopping and eating with said love ones, I drift into another fantasy: I dream of being Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone, left by myself during the holidays to do whatever I want.
While I love being home, I also dread the holidays a little. The reality is they’re usually no Christmas Vacation. But why? And more importantly, what can we do about it?
By Jonathan TranPham, reflect founder
Earlier in the week, I wrote a post with advice on how to deal with the anxiety caused by this long and tense presidential election. I assumed if we could just make it through, there would be light at the end of this Shawshank-esque tunnel of crap.
Boy, was I wrong. Instead of electing our first female President, America made history in an entirely unexpected way. Our nation got hit by a bus on Tuesday night, a bus that Donald Trump drove all the way to the White House.
Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States. Even as I type those words, I can’t muster the strength to say them outloud. Is this real life?
Given our reader demographic and location, I assume most of you were with me in being #withher. And you were probably with me this week in asking yourself these questions:
How did a man whose most notable foreign policy stance was a wall become President?
How did someone endorsed by the KKK and Putin rise to our highest office?
How did a man who’s unapologetically sexist and racist become the Leader of the Free World?
Then it hit me. Amidst my shock, I realized something: I was grieving.
By Jonathan TranPham, reflect founder
I’ll be so happy when this election cycle is finally over on Tuesday. The last year and a half have caused me -- and the country -- major anxiety. Change is always hard, and normal elections usually get heated. But this race feels far from normal.
Research show America is more divided than any time in recent memory. And the differences run largely down party, racial, gender, and socioeconomic lines.
Maybe it’s because a real chunk of the American population feels left behind by opportunity. Or maybe it’s because perceived threats of terrorism from abroad and at home have caused us to constantly question our safety. It could also be all the hateful rhetoric being spewed making us wonder who we are as a country (and whether we belong). And don’t get me started on the damaging effects of social media or the faux scandal-filled 24 hour news cycle.
Regardless of the cause, this race is high-stakes and uncertain. There’s a lot to worry about.
The Atlantic recently did a great piece about how national-level uncertainty can wreak havoc on individual stress levels. And a lot of people are feeling the heat.
The Southern Poverty Law Center recently found that minority students are “concerned for their safety” by the possibility of a Trump presidency. And therapists across the country are reporting that the misogynistic language being used has been especially traumatizing for women, sometimes even triggering latent verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse memorized. The list goes on.
By just acknowledging how we feel and understanding why we feel this way, we go a long way in starting to manage this stress.
The good news is that we’re less than 48 hours away from the end of this circus (I hope). The anxiety we face should subside a bit too.
In the meantime, here are some tips that can help you survive the 36 hours and get to the other side in one piece. Let's just hope our country does too.
By Dr. Sadie Phillips, reflect's head of therapy
At some point in the last month, you’ve probably felt stressed. You might even be stressed right now. Stress can be triggered by anything from demands we face in our jobs to challenges dating to lack of sleep as a result of a newborn baby.
Many of us who are successful in our careers and personal lives learned early on that being “successful” requires us to push through any stress to challenge ourselves, accomplish more, and win.
We're so used to stress that we've normalized it. This pattern of thinking is bad. Like really bad.
Stress is like that friend from college who is way too much fun. He or she is the life of the party and push us to do things we never imagined we’d do. But if they stay around too long, dishes get broken, your apartment becomes a mess, and eventually, your life is turned upside down.
Continuing to ignore stress ultimately catches up with us. And when it does, it’s not pretty.
It’s time to have an honest conversation about the real impact of stress and how to make lasting changes to effectively manage the stress we face in our busy lives. And this is one topic you can't afford to put off any longer.
Helpful tips for managing stress, incorporating mindfulness, and promoting a healthy lifestyle