As the conversation continues to grow around the importance and availability of quality mental health resources, many strides have already been taken to raise awareness by corporations and community members alike. May is Mental Health Month, and in fact, this year marks the 70th anniversary of this vital movement. That’s quite a milestone - one that is well worth the highlight!
We want to take a moment to honor all of the hard work and dedication that has taken place over the decades and a few ways to make the most of Mental Health Month.
First began in 1949, Mental Health America and its affiliates developed the observance of ‘May is Mental Health Month’ by reaching millions of people through local events, screenings, and the media. The point? To spread the word that mental health is something that everyone should care about. And that is every bit as important today as it was seventy years ago.
Each year, Mental Health America assigns a theme to unify the movement and hone in on specific aspects of the cause. This year’s theme is kind of a ‘part two’ that follows the 2018 focus on #4Mind4Body. Psychology Today describes #4Mind4Body 2018 as an emphasis on the fact that “health is an all-encompassing matter and we must take care care of our minds just as much as we take care of our bodies.”
For 2019, the #4Mind4Body campaign has been expanded even further to include the topics of support animals, spirituality, humor, work/life balance, recreation and social connections for enhancing mental health and well-being.
What’s amazing is the way in which this theme really does speak to our current, modern mood. Taking a holistic approach, Mental Health America has long supported the idea that mental health especially benefits from a multi-pronged strategy, addressing the whole person and the community at large. The movement has evolved over the decades, always with an honest look at all of the pieces of the wellness puzzle - it’s current, it’s relevant, and it’s relatable.
It’s important to enhance mental health and well-being with the numerous resources at our disposal, and those resources are growing every day, especially in the Bay Area.
The power of the internet has been an essential tool in raising awareness across the board. In today’s world, social media and the 24/7 availability of information connects us all in ways that were unimaginable even thirty years ago. This ability to foster awareness and empower change through this modern lens is incredibly exciting and we fully support efforts to amplify that reach.
4 Ways to Make the Most of Mental Health Awareness Month
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Across all social media channels in May, you’ll likely see green ribbons and hashtags related to Mental Health Month and we encourage you to join the conversation online. The importance of breaking the stigma cannot be overstated. Discover mental health stories from others and even marketing campaigns from corporations, such as Burger King’s Real Meal campaign for mental health. Consider sharing your own story with the world if you are comfortable.
EXPORE THE FACTS
Data within the mental health field can be eye-opening. There is a wealth of information online that supports the need for access to resources. Sharing such facts within your social media activity this month adds weight to the message that it’s okay to ask for help. Healthline, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and Mental Health America are all user-friendly sources for mental health-related information.
CHECK IN WITH YOURSELF
Take some time to visit your own mental health. Are you struggling? Are there areas that could benefit from a trusted professional? Or maybe there are some trouble spots that simply deserve a gentle acknowledgment. By getting in touch with your headspace, you can learn so much - and it’s worth your time. From there, give yourself permission to take it to the next level by adding a professional therapist to your self-care team.
BREAK THE STIGMA
Sometimes the biggest obstacle to accessing mental health resources is our own expectations, our own set of rules that make it hard to reach out. In fact, sometimes it might even be a stretch to take a look at our lives and realize that we have unmet mental health needs in the first place. Here in the Bay Area, where work/life balance alone can be a huge hurdle, it’s pretty common to keep plugging along without checking in. But that’s where you could be missing opportunities to achieve higher levels of happiness and productivity.
Or, perhaps it’s a friend or family member that is encountering struggles with their mental health - Mental Health Month offers an opportunity to show support, broaden knowledge on the subject and enhance the important sense of community around what can sometimes be considered an isolating experience.
Support, acceptance, and outreach are keys to breaking the stigma of mental health needs, and this mindset lowers the walls that stand between those who need help and those who can deliver help.
At reflect, we believe that everyone can benefit from talking with someone on a regular basis. Yet finding a therapist that’s the right match for your unique needs can be intimidating or difficult when tasked with going at the search alone. We can make a difference, by offering the largest self-pay network of top therapists in the Bay Area. Let us help you find your match today. In honor of Mental Health Month, consider it your first step towards a better tomorrow.
Let’s face it - life can get very overwhelming at times. Whether there’s been a sudden loss, new realities, unresolved issues or pressure of any kind, the balancing act between managing our emotional world along with our work/life balance can be challenging to say the least. These days, it can definitely feel like we are getting pulled in a thousand directions at once. One false move, and the whole house of cards comes down. The Bay Area presents its own issues within the areas of career, finances and work/life balance - it’s not uncommon to feel like you’re walking on a tightrope everyday.
That struggle between emotional wellness and work/life balance may benefit from some professional help. Much like we need assistance with our taxes, we can also reach out to professionals who will support our desire for a healthy and happy life. Professional therapists bridge the gap between, “can I do this?” and “here’s our plan.” Whether you suspect an underlying mental illness or simply need an outside perspective to talk it out, therapy can benefit you in many ways.
According to Forbes, there are some pretty intriguing reasons to give talk therapy a try. The number one reason? Therapy has lasting benefits. This is because a therapist helps people work through the issues and develop tools to deal with future problems. While just about everyone can benefit, recent studies found that 60% of adults with mental health concerns did not receive mental health services in the previous year.
Consider bringing a therapist into your support system and you’ll find that it is a fantastic opportunity to level up your professional game and improve your personal life. It can help you handle emotions from problems or stressors, even if they are not dramatically traumatic or life-altering. Therapy can deliver results relatively quickly; the American Psychological Association reports that many patients felt improvement within two weeks of talk therapy. 75% of the clients who work with reflect will gain new insights about their lives within the first four sessions.
Here’s a closer look at four great reasons to put “find a therapist” on today’s to-do list.
Four Benefits of Therapy
Reduce Work and Career Stress
Not only are work and career issues a significant strain on mental health, they require peak performance in order to be successful. That can sometimes feel like a vicious cycle - the very source of stress demands that you operate at your most effective. Understandably, these issues aren’t discussed much within the workplace, and although friends and family can lend an ear, this bears a limit.
A professional therapist provides a neutral, outside perspective where deeper issues are uncovered and a plan can be put in place. It will take some of the strain off your plate and help you feel empowered rather than embattled when facing work the next day. Discussing your work woes with a therapist can be extremely productive for your professional experience, maximizing income and most importantly, enjoying what you do!
Life happens. Constantly. There’s no “pause” button on the stream of events and circumstances that come and go. Therapy delivers tools and techniques from a trusted professional to help you approach situations from a new and more objective perspective. These new strategies lead to feeling more in control of yourself and your reactions; anxiety is reduced and better decisions are reached. This is because working closely with a trusted professional therapist builds confidence and helps to maintain a hopeful outlook. How? By developing your decision-making skills, emotional response, clarity of purpose and coping mechanisms, you’ll be able to trust your new strengths.
Clarify Blind Spots
Even with mindfulness in place and a clear sense of who you are, there is a chance there are still a few blind spots that you’re simply not catching. A therapist is trained and experienced to identify areas that are opportunity for development. Old patterns or habits, a narrow perspective, and relationship stressors are great examples of common blind spots. These areas can be analyzed with a keen eye for removing obstacles that block you from achieving your goals. Sure, talking with friends and family is an important part of your support system however, a trusted professional therapist is neutral and focused on working closely with you to find clear solutions without any emotional stake in the process.
Enhance Life Satisfaction
Life is meant to be lived well. But that doesn’t always happen, does it? And when things get overwhelming, the pressure sometimes leads to poor choices. Perhaps nutrition goes out the window, moods are sour and the bloodstream feels like it is 99% caffeine. To say that life is satisfying when overloaded with pressure is definitely a stretch. This is where the clear benefits of therapy come together in a larger, more comprehensive bonus: you’ll simply enjoy life more. That’s hard to measure yet easy to spot. Time with a professional therapist will be encouraging and productive.
A safe space to get some real results that last. Your overall outlook on life (and yourself) can shift from fearful to hopeful, from confused to clarified, and from frustrated to peaceful. You deserve to enjoy a high-quality life, and therapy provides a clear path along with someone to help you each step of the way.
If you’re ready to re-launch your life through therapy, let reflect help you find the best therapist in the Bay Area to meet your needs. 90% of reflect clients find a therapist they like - perhaps it’s time to add yourself to the equation. Get matched today for a better tomorrow.
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 SPEND 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.
TALK IT OUT -- TRY THERAPY
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.
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.
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:
Helpful tips for managing stress, incorporating mindfulness, and promoting a healthy lifestyle