Welcome to the Better Days Best Life Blog
Thank you for stopping by! While I don’t really consider myself a “blogger,” I welcome this forum as another opportunity to share bits of information and insight that I hope you will find helpful. Some things may make you stop to think or reflect. Other entries may prompt you to take action when you would not have otherwise. Who knows, you might even learn a thing or two. I encourage you to read my posts with an open mind and a willingness to try something that may be new to you. Please come by often and feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment. I look forward to hearing from you!
Thanks to the Community Wellness Task Force of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff, local residents now have a way to anonymously text with a mental health professional any time of day or night if they have concerns about themselves or someone else. By simply texting 847HELP to 274637, the person will be connected to a local clinician via text, but will be able to retain his or her anonymity because the text messages are sent through a third-party cloaking server. This unique resource aims to help both young people and adults get the support they need in an easily accessible and non-threatening way, with an end goal of a safer and healthier community.
Link: Text-A-Tip Press Release
Check out my guest post on the LEAD website- a fantastic non-profit organization that I sit on the Board of. Hopefully it will help you approach your New Year’s resolutions in a different way. Happy New Year!
Better Days Therapeutic Services and the Better Days Best Life Blog now have Facebook pages. Stop over and “like” us so that you can stay in the loop and get the latest information and blog entries.
Good news for the winter blues! Recent research indicates that winter and dreary weather are not necessarily linked to an increase in depressive symptoms. Many of us assume that the winter blues are unavoidable, but these findings suggest that weather and time of year have very little impact on the true symptoms of depression such as long-lasting sadness, hopelessness, sleep troubles, or problems with appetite. It is true that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) exists and seasonal changes may impact some people differently. However, the study points out that the majority of the population seems to regularly overestimate winter’s negative influence on mood and behavior. So embrace the cold and snow, and welcome winter with a smile!
Taking time to remember the many reasons you have to be thankful is a rewarding thing to do every day of the year. Such an exercise can help you resist getting caught up in the little stuff that has a tendency to bring people down, and instead focus your energy on what is most important. This type of practice can also help to counterbalance any negative thoughts you may have and encourage you to stay more optimistic about the future. Consider keeping a gratitude journal, or simply taking a few moments at the end of the day to reflect upon the many great things in your life. You’ll be thankful you did!
Like many other people, I have taken an interest in a recent news story that picked up quite a bit of coverage. Earlier this month, blogger Jenn Meer wrote about almost accidentally drowning her three-year-old daughter in a bathtub as she multitasked her way through their nightly routine In a matter of a couple of weeks, this story went from a simple blog entry, to being reprinted by the Huffington Post, to an appearance by the author on Good Morning America. Clearly, people have taken an interest! But why? Because it hits so close to home? Because it is a cautionary tale that ended well? I believe it is because “distracted living” has become so commonplace that everyone can relate. Maybe it is an extreme example, but haven’t we all had some sort of near miss when we tried to handle too many things at once?
So what can we do to change? I propose making every attempt to live a more mindful life so that you can be more fully present in each moment. My recent blog post challenged readers to Unplug. This is just one example of a way to disconnect from distractions, and plug back into “real” life. Consider adding mindfulness to your life in a more formal way. If you live in the area, I would love to see you at one of my mindfulness workshops. If you live elsewhere, look for resources online or locally. Establishing your own mindfulness practice is invaluable for so many reasons. But, as this story shows, it can also be a matter of safety. We can all learn from someone else’s wake-up call.
Autumn is definitely upon us! As the temperatures drop and the leaves begin to change, take some time to reflect upon changes you would like to make or are currently making in your own life. Just as seasons change, we are all constantly in flux as well. However, many changes won’t just happen on their own. You may need to make them a priority and devote some additional time and effort to make sure they don’t fall by the wayside. And remember to congratulate yourself for each success along the way! Most important changes are not easy, and it is critical that you not lose sight of what you have already accomplished. So use this time of year as an opportunity to check in with yourself before the busy holiday season gets underway. This type of purposeful reflection can help insure that you like the direction you are heading, or encourage you to reroute if necessary.
Did you know that incorporating a mindfulness practice into your life can actually create changes in your brain? Recent research indicates that participation in an 8-week mindfulness program resulted in measurable changes to the hippocampus (important for learning and memory), amygdala (important for anxiety and stress), and other areas associated with self-awareness, introspection, and compassion. Not only can mindfulness help in your day-to-day functioning and well-being, but we are now beginning to understand how mindfulness also leads to lasting and beneficial structural changes within the brain.
If there is something weighing on your mind, it can be helpful to put it on paper. Consider keeping a journal, writing a letter to someone (that you may or may not send), or even authoring a story. Taking the time to write things down can provide a different, and often helpful, outlet for working through your thoughts. It isn’t necessarily about what you are writing, but rather the process of doing so. Keep in mind that no one ever has to read what you write. Sometimes this complete privacy can afford you the freedom to “speak” your mind more than you ever have in the past. Next time you are having a difficult time with something, pick up a pen. You may be surprised by how much better you feel.
Challenge yourself to take some time away from technology. Choose an amount of time that will be difficult but not impossible for you (i.e., one meal/hour/afternoon/day/weekend). Consider including television, email, cell phone, internet, and anything else that may serve as an electronic distraction. Are you getting nervous just thinking about it? Have you already ruled it out as being too hard? We have become so used to and dependent upon such things, that it is hard to imagine going without. See what else you become engaged in when such things aren’t present. Other people around you? Nature? Your own thoughts or emotions? Is this something you might want to do more often?