Ah, happiness. It feels so elusive, doesn’t it? Life throws curve balls at us on a regular basis. one minute, everything is perfectly okay, humming right along. Next thing you know, something (or someone) can enter your space and disrupt your mindset. From there, it could all go downhill unless you take action to protect your positivity and your mental health.
These days, happiness is even harder to come by due to a seemingly endless sources of stressors. So much so that the most recent World Happiness Report has determined that happiness and life satisfaction have been on the decline in the United States. Across the board, the general population is dealing with major stress factors in the most fundamental aspects of our lives: financial, career, housing, health, and family. Time certainly doesn’t seem to be slowing down enough for all of life’s demands to be met – at least, not without some sacrifices along the way.
When life gets busy, all too often, self-care drops to the end of the to-do list. While this is a natural response, it’s actually rather counterproductive and unhealthy.
After all, we believe that the purpose of life is to be happy! If dealing with life’s Mount Everest on a daily basis is robbing you of the opportunity to access your happiness, there are ways to build that back in to your life again. Getting back to happy utilizes our own body’s ability to get those endorphins flowing and improve your mental, emotional and physical well-being. You deserve it.
Happiness isn’t just a mood, it’s a state of mind and a physical response. Healthline explains that endorphins, serotonin and dopamine are important neurotransmitters that are involved in our natural reward circuits that promote an overall sense of well-being by decreasing pain and increasing pleasure. When we carry out activities that bring reward – perhaps a delicious meal, a breath of fresh air, listen to a favorite good song, and so on – the brain releases serotonin, dopamine which is the feeling of happiness, even if it’s fleeting.
The problem is that in the day-to-day grind, it might be odd to put “stop and smell the roses” on the To-Do list. However, much like putting your oxygen mask on before attempting to help others, it’s important to take the time to deliver these moments of happiness to yourself to reduce stress, lessen anxiety, and give yourself a more positive outlook.
Fortunately, there is a wave of interest in all things self-care related these days. That’s excellent news because it’s time to give yourself permission to practice it. In fact, the more self-care you add to your day, the better you will be at managing a routine without losing your grip when something stressful happens. Take advantage of the following five ways to boost your happiness that will make life worthwhile and fun and also have a thoroughly positive impact on your overall well-being.
Even 20 minutes in a change of scenery and fresh air will get those endorphins flowing naturally. In order to maximize the experience, give yourself permission to drop your mental chatter for this short time and fully connect with your location. Look at the sky, trees, listen for birds or other new sounds. Attempt meditation. Note the temperature and how it makes you feel. Breathe it in, breathe it out, and just connect. A study by researchers at Stanford found that “nature walkers had reduced activity in a particular brain region, the subgenual prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is associated with rumination, or worrying on the same issues over and over, a problem described often in depressive and anxiety disorders”
It’s all about the Experience
Sure, things are nice. Clothes, books, electronics, you name it. However, what actually makes us feel most rewarded are experiences. Time with a friend, travel, attending a cool event or diving into a new hobby delivers not only the experience itself, they create great memories that can be revisited at any time. Talk about a win/win.
Limit the time you pend on Social Media
Today’s technology connects us to people around the globe, at the touch of a button, 24-hours-a-day. That’s pretty incredible, right? Problem is, it’s all too easy to start the compare/contrast game as we sift through an infinite supply of heavily filtered photos and people presenting their idea of what appears to be a perfect life. The National Alliance on Mental Health reports that in the U.S. alone, 7 out of 10 people are active social media users and that while social media has its benefits, there are negative implications. NAMI suggests that we be more mindful of what we consume online, aiming to reduce screen time in order to build real-world experiences.This is a strong case for moderation and developing other habits when you want to escape during a commute or sitting on the sofa.
Get out there and get moving in whichever way you can. Studies have shown that within merely 5 minutes of walking, dancing or anything else that raises your heart rate, the brain releases enough of those happy endorphins to boost your mood in a big way. 10 minutes gives your mind a chance to react to new stimuli and relax, and 20 minutes of exercise offers head-to-toe benefits to every system in your body. According to Healthline, even brief physical exertion lowers blood pressure, increases circulation and reduces anxiety. You don’t have to go to the gym, a brisk walk with a friend or working a longer walk into your daily commute is a great start.
Sometimes, finding our happiness can be tricky. It’s one of those concepts that can seem so much easier said than done, even when natural endorphins have been deployed. That’s because the mountains we climb on a daily basis are, in fact, big mountains. They weigh on mental health because they matter and need to be resolved and therapy is not solely when someone is in a crisis. Most of us see a dentist twice a year for maintenance, therapy can provide similar benefits.
Consulting a professional with an objective, outside perspective can be an essential step to tackling any trouble spots that are creating life obstacles and dampening your happiness. The great part about therapy is that you don’t need a mental health illness to talk to someone, you just have to be ready to talk about whatever is going on in your life.
Let reflect help you select the right therapist for your goals, your needs, and your style. There are many different types of therapy that offer a chance to get an outside viewpoint and learn new insights through a trusted professional. With reflect, you’ll find a great match for your needs across the Bay Area. Together, the path can be cleared of speed bumps that are hindering your ability to fully embrace joy and live that happy life.
In every business, the most important challenge is how to get clients or customers. Without paying customers, no business will run for very long and the saying, “if we build it, they will come” no longer applies to the real world. To get more customers or clients, business owners need to learn how to market their business
For some, marketing is fun and crunching numbers for individual marketing strategies comes naturally. Meanwhile, therapists are rarely trained marketers and prefer to focus their efforts on their clients which leaves them struggling between finding clients and helping them. If you find your practice dealing with this struggle, follow these four tips to get counseling clients with a bit more ease.
Most working American adults are affected by stress at some point in their daily lives. This stress is, perhaps unsurprisingly, most frequently coming from the workplace. From competition with fellow employees, to not getting paid enough and/or tumultuous relationships with employers, work-related stress is common and can be unhealthy and impact performance. In fact, a recent study from Everest College found that 83% of U.S. workers are stressed. But, what is work-related stress?
Let’s face it, we live in stressful times. Rates of suicide, depression, and anxiety are up across the country. The National Alliance on Mental Illness found that 1 in 5 U.S. adults will experience mental illness in a given year. That’s over 48 million adults! Between financial pressure, family pressure, relationships, and the constant expectation to look perfect on social media, it’s understandable to feel stressed out or worse. Therapy is a meaningful way to work through life’s stressors and, fortunately for everyone, therapy is finally gaining the popularity it deserves. In fact, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that “Millennials are the therapy generation.” This generation is more open to seeking assistance for mental health problems and is changing the landscape of mental health treatment. We’re okay with that.
Therapy has been used to treat mental health illness and conditions since the 19th century. Healthline reports that “Behavioral therapy has successfully been used to treat a large number of conditions.” Some of those conditions include anxiety disorders, depression, and substance abuse. However, you don't have to have a “disorder” or mental illness to see a therapist. Therapy is wildly successful in treating conditions that we all might experience at one time or another, such as work stress, the death of a loved one, or any other terrible life event that may happen. We are all human and we all can benefit from therapy, especially when there are obvious signs that life sucks right now and it’s time to see a therapist. The following are a few of those signs.
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.
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.
Helpful tips for managing stress, incorporating mindfulness, and promoting a healthy lifestyle