Category: <span>Mental Health</span>

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The Uninvited House Guest: Emotions

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No one likes to experience worry, embarrassment, shame, anxiety, or the type of intense sadness that feels like a heaviness that will not go away. It’s uncomfortable, intrusive, takes away your sense of control, and often feels like an uninvited guest. If only we could make it go away. Bye girl, and don’t slam my door on the way out! 

Yeah, if only. 

Who doesn’t want to feel good? We live in a world where sunshine and everlasting rainbows dripped in positivity are constantly promoted. There is nothing wrong with a little bit of positivity, but when it means chasing away those negative feelings at any cost, that’s when it can become problematic. In my work, I’ve come across some pretty creative ways of avoiding feelings: 

  • Never noticing and talking about it 
  • Laughter at awkward times
  • Shopping sprees
  • Late-night eating while binge-watching Netflix
  • Oversleeping 
  • Walking away at the height of an argument 
  • And [enter your habit here]

These may be great momentary fixes, but the truth is, they only serve to invalidate your experiences. Without fail, the uncomfortable emotions will resurface again and run wild, often with greater intensity than before. 

Have you ever wondered why your emotions are showing up in the first place? And where you learned to dismiss them? Is it a process you observed while growing up? Or maybe said to you with words like “boys don’t cry,” or hearing phrases like: “you’ll be fine” when it sure doesn’t feel that way at the moment, “toughen up,” or “calm down.” 

Invalidation is sneaky, and the consequence is a human who learns not to acknowledge their emotions without judgment or trust their emotional experience. Worse yet, you realize it’s not worth it to open up to others about how you feel because it comes at the uncomfortable risk of again being dismissed or feeling unheard. 

If I were to sum it up, there is nothing wrong with you. You are not defective because you worry sometimes, are scared of becoming depressed again or aren’t happy all the time. Our life is richer because of our emotional experiences. Emotions allow us to tune in to what we need. It gives us grounds to ask for clarification and express our needs. It fosters attuned leaders and skills like compassion and creativity. Learning to welcome your emotions gives us a real sense of flexibility, freedom, and control.

practice noticing your emotions, awareness of emotions, managing emotions

So how do you embrace your emotions and get to that kind of magic? 

Feelings are just information. One of my favorite books is Visiting Feelings by Lauren Rubenstein. The book invites you to look at your emotions like a guest, but instead of shutting the door in its face, asking it why it’s here. We all experience a wide range of emotions, and to better respond to them, we have to take the time to understand them. 

Start with taking some space when you notice a difficult emotion. It may mean excusing yourself from an argument with a scheduled time to return, stepping out of the office for a bathroom break, or closing your eyes for a few moments to disconnect. At that moment, find your breath. Use it to anchor you. Try something like four square breathing. Slowing your breathing allows your automatic nervous system to regulate and brings more ease to your body and your mind. It would look like this:

1. Bring your attention to your breath.  

2. Inhale and slowly count for four seconds. 

3. Hold for four seconds. 

4. Exhale and slowly count for four seconds.  

5. Hold for four seconds.

6. Do this four-five times. 

When you feel that shift in your emotion or feel overwhelmed, angry, or frantic, pause and just breathe. Once you settle down, you can explore with curiosity the emotions that kicked this off in the first place. 

What is it trying to bring to your attention (like maybe you’ve taken on too many tasks, need more support, worry about an outcome, etc.)?

It’s a great way to learn to notice and read your body signals as you would shift in temperature and the weather. This practice can help you recognize and understand the messages that speak to what you need or don’t need to feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

Psychotherapist, Mental Health Trainer, Black Therapist, Coach

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R is a Licensed Psychotherapist, Speaker, and Mindset Coach for high-achieving women in business. Her joy is tackling mental health on multiple platforms.

Related Reads:

15 Quotes to Calm Your Anxiety as an Entrepreneur

My Thoughts Support My Success

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links on this page, which means we get a small commission of anything you decide to buy to support our tea-drinking habits at no cost to you. 

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15 Quotes to Calm Your Anxiety When Stressed Out

Cheerful stylish African American lady. Able to manage stress and anxiety.  Happy.

These 15 anxiety quotes are meant to encourage you and help calm that feeling of overwhelm when anxious or feeling like life is out of control. Understanding how your mind works and how you talk to yourself when stressed out is key to reducing Anxiety in your life. 

We all have that humble inner voice that tells us what we should be doing with our lives and who we ultimately want to be. Unfortunately, many women push this inner voice aside and instead listen to the one that says things like, “You can’t do this”, “How am I going to make money from this?”, “What will people think of me?” “I feel like a fraud,” “This is too difficult”, and “What if I fail?”. 

That critical voice is like a neon yellow highlighter finding all the negatives. Its presence can be painful, limiting, and paralyzing. What you may not know is it is often connected to anxiety or depression and fuels destructive habits shortchanging your progress, and the progress of the other 40 million adults in the United States alone that are diagnosed with Anxiety or Depression (and that’s just those who know). 

The Thought, Attitude & Action Connection

Anxiety is pretty common, and a hallmark trait is the fear-based worry thoughts that hold women hostage creating doubt, imposter syndrome, and not much action. See your thoughts, attitude and actions are strongly related, and you can take a look at an example of that hereNegative self-talk triggers emotions like worry, anger, or sadness, kicking up a negative or defeated attitude, which then causes you to engage in self sabotaging behaviors with things like procrastination or avoidance. Sounds familiar?

Learning to correct negative thinking patterns and your response starts with understanding the source of these unhelpful stories running around in your mind and beginning to seize control of your inner mean girl. If you want to take a closer look at what this means for you, download the free inner critic workbook to help you calm your inner critic. 

I’m curious, what would you be doing if you didn’t second guess yourself? Or talk yourself out of amazing opportunities? Share those thoughts in the comments below

Retraining Your Brain

As you ponder the impact of your inner mean girl, please note the good news- changes made to your brain by negative thought processes are reversible. While we use strategies based on cognitive behavior therapy to do this with clientsyou can start to do some of this work yourself simply by introducing more positive comments to your life. The research has found the more you engage in positive thought work, the more it stimulates the front of your brain or the pre-frontal cortex- positive self-talk is like a workout for your mind. 

And real talk, reading something positive is just uplifting and is a powerful way to help you feel calm and in control when stress or Anxiety threatens to overwhelm you. 

Managing Stress

Navigating anxiety, stress and overwhelm in the moment is critical. Here are a few ways some of our clients do that:

  1. Embrace mindfulness or regular meditation practice (try apps like stop, breathe, think or calm.com)
  2. Schedule breaks within the day
  3. Brain dump to-do lists and work on the top 3 items at a time instead of being overwhelmed by EVERYTHING on the list
  4. Eat junk free snacks throughout the day to support a consistent mood 
  5. Learn to say “no” and assert boundaries with significant others 

Embracing the positive

Using affirmations, mantras, the above approaches, and working with a therapist or a business mindset coach may be the missing element to fighting against your mind and consistently showing up for your self and your business. As you continue to work on yourself, here are a few positve quotes to get some perspective on your Anxiety and soothe your soul!

Quotes to Navigate Anxiety and Lift Your Spirits

This one is one of my favorites from the Inner Critic Workbook for Ambitious Women:

1. “Thoughts are not facts or realities. They do not define you” ~Amanda Fludd

anxiety, dealing with stress

2. “I give myself permission to suck…I find this hugely liberating” -John Green

3. “Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.”

—Charles Spurgeon

4. Trust yourself. You’ve survived a lot, and you’ll survive whatever is coming. – Robert Tew

5. Smile, breathe, and go slowly. — Thich Nhat Hanh  

6.”You can have it all. Just not all at once.” ~Oprah

And another from the Queen herself: 

7. “The thing you fear most has no power. Your fear of it is what has the power. Facing the truth really will set you free.” – Oprah Winfrey

8. “You dream. You plan. You reach. There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes. But with hard work, with belief, with confidence and trust in yourself and those around you, there are no limits.” – Michael Phelps

  1. “Just believe in yourself. Even if you don’t pretend that you do and, and some point, you will.” Venus Williams

10. “The only person who can stop you from reaching your goals is you.”

— Jackie Joyner-Kersee 

11. “You don’t have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you.

– Dan Millman

12. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”. Isiah 41:10

13. “Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.” – Roy Bennett

14. “It’s OKAY to be scared. Being scared means you’re about to do something really, really brave.” – Mandy Hale

15. “The way you tell your story to yourself matters.” – Amy Cuddy

That said, continue to challenge that inner critic and the mean girl stories it tries to tell you. It’s most likely not true, and you are more powerful than your mind will have you to believe. 

If any of these quotes or parts of this blog resonated with you, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Also, if you like any of the images featured in this post, sharing it through your favorite social media platform like Pinterest or tagging @amanda.fludd on Instagram is appreciated.

Related Articles:

Calming the Anxious Mind

Getting Clear on Goals to Reduce Overwhelm

Ending Self Criticism and Liking Yourself More

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R is a Licensed therapist and coach for high-achieving women. It’s important to note when resolving complex thoughts, it can be challenging, and it is helpful to enlist the support of a therapist or a coach. If you are unsure what you need, reach out, and we can help you figure that out.

Note: There might be affiliate links on this page, which means we get a small commission of anything you decide to buy to support our tea drinking habits at no cost to you. 

write your goal

What Is Your Goal Langugage?

goal setting tipsJust as we all learn very differently, practical goal setting can look very different as well. What works for someone else may not work for you – and that is just fine. Stay with me as I give you a few creative tips for setting your goals in a way that works for you.

Defining The Goal

When you say “goal,” the term can mean just about anything. You could have a goal to make more money, save up for a larger home, expand your business, etc. These are not wrong goals, but they are not necessarily effective goals. The idea is too broad, with no clear measurement for success, making them that much harder to attain.

An effective method for setting goals is to create SMART goals. SMART is an acronym system for developing actionable, achievable goals. A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Assignable, and Realistic.

Once you have decided what you want your goal to be, you can begin to break it down into smaller digestible or smart pieces. Essentially, specify what you would like to achieve, assign a time frame you would like to achieve it in, understand who is responsible for the success of the goal, and assure that the goal can realistically be achieved.

BOOM – that’s it.

Once you have a clear goal, you can shift to the work required to get there. To help you with this, try our free vision board planner from a recent workshop we did helping other women entrepreneurs get clear on their goals. It’s an excellent way to collect your thoughts and get them out into action steps.

Goal Setting Strategies
Visual Goals Are Powerful For The Mind

Tips for Making Goals Work 

If you have taken the time to create your SMART goal, you must also spend some time with it. Schedule a consistent time to look at what you want to achieve and work on the action steps to get there. By consistently showing up to work on your goals, you are developing new success systems and habits. Habits, once formed, are automatic. They rewire our brains with the discipline needed for success. 

If your goal were a plant, the time you spend with it would be the food it needs to grow. With consistency, it will thrive in its proper season. 

The Language of Goals  

First, figure out your goal language. Are you a visual person? Do you need to think things through? Do you thrive in peace and quiet?

Whatever your goal language, roll with it!

If you are a visual person, spend some extra time creating a vision board for your goal. Having a visual map of your plan will allow you to visualize success better. When you envision what you want to achieve, you consciously decide to look for information about the situation that will improve your performance outcomes. Goal setting strategiesHigh-performing athletes do it all the time- I should know, I was one of them. Before a race, as I settled my nerves, I would see myself running the event. My muscles would fire at the gun, and I would rise out the blocks into formation and turn gears across the 400-meter track- gliding over hurdles along the way. This process helped me create a clear picture of what my body needed to do to get me to where I needed to go.

If you are more of a process and analytical person, try to journal out your goals. Getting your thoughts onto paper will allow you to work through them, see the holes, and may even inspire new inspiration. In fact, you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. Writing also helps to reduce stress, anxiety, and overwhelm- factors that work against goal attainment. 

If quiet reflection is your goal language, find some quiet time and give yourself the space to dream and create. Try a practice from Stop, Breathe, Think, or Calm.com, and dedicate time to starting your process there daily with meditation, then writing. This daily or even weekly practice can help you stay motivated and keep your head clear. 

We all want to achieve better results. Writing down your goals is a good starting point. It’s an easy technique that helps you become more efficient and reduce your stress simultaneously. Let us know your goal language in the comments below and what you are working on. 

 

Goal setting strategiesAmanda Fludd, LCSW-R gets a whole lot of practice writing wellness goals for corporations and helping individuals navigate goals to improve their emotional and business wellbeing. Jump on her calander if you need to connect!

How Much Do You Know about School Anxiety?

As the beginning of the school year is upon us, we want to acknowledge what that means for the many families navigating the anxiety of the upcoming year. Most students have spent over a year learning remotely, disconnected from friends and their routine, and have been catapulted back into school, and not everyone is excited about that.

Many students (and even parents) are experiencing anxiety just thinking about this school year, but what is anxiety, and what does it look like?

More on Anxiety 

Anxiety is a feeling of worries, fear, and/or nervousness about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. By technical definition, school anxiety in our children can look like separation anxiety, social anxiety, and generalized anxiety.

What you and your child may experience daily:

  • Separation Anxiety- or children basically being afraid of being away from their parents. This makes sense after being home with you for most of the past year. The idea of leaving parents or the safety of their home can become distressing for students. This can express itself as difficulty waking up in the morning, crying to enter the school building, and in some cases refusing to attend class or school altogether.
  • Social anxiety is an intense fear or worry in social situations or just thinking about being in a social context. Your child may express concerns about fitting in or feeling embarrassed amongst their peers and describe feeling self-conscious in social situations. It can show up as a reluctance or refusal to go to school, dropping extracurricular activities, being more withdrawn at home, or children visibly distressed at the end of the day or going out of their way to not be seen.
  • Generalized anxiety is when they anticipate the future with every possible negative outcome, usually characterized by many “what if” this or that happens questions or scenarios. With this type of anxiety, young people are just worried about everything- be it getting good grades, if they’ll get into college, if they will get covid by stepping outside, etc. Usually, these worries have no discernible cause.

Supporting and Encouraging Your Anxious Child

The most important thing you can do is pay attention to any significant changes in your child as parents and educators. Are they struggling to pay attention in class, not socializing with other classmates, avoiding eye contact, or trying hard to avoid school or different social situations? You can even look for physical symptoms (because distress often shows up physically): Nausea, headaches, trouble sleeping, or changes in their appetite. The article “How to Help When Your Child Is Anxious About Going Back to School” suggests a few ways in which parents and teachers can help with children experiencing anxiety. The most important one is recognizing the signs of anxiety. Once you do, we suggest the following:

  1. Talk to your child or students about why they are anxious, along with discussing any possible scenarios that cause them to be worried. Helping them prepare for upcoming stressors and interjecting realistic outcomes can be helpful. The key is to approach with support and never brush off a child’s fear, even if it doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, because it is a significant issue for the child.

 

  1. Don’t judge or criticize what your child or teen is experiencing. The intense anxiety and unhelpful thoughts of those dealing with anxiety may seem ridiculous to someone who has never experienced it, but it still is a real experience. That said, take time to educate yourself on your child’s experience. As parents, we don’t always have all the answers.

 

  1. Be careful not to reinforce avoidant behavior. We want your child to learn to navigate their fears, but they may need more coping tools to do so, instead of staying away from school or social situations or being forced into it with a do what I sayor else approach. We want them to learn that some anxiety is ok. If you keep trying to protect them from that, you’ll reinforce their lack of confidence in handling stressful and anxiety-provoking situations.

 

  1. Notice your own anxious reactions. Anxiety sometimes runs in families as well. Notice how it shows up around your children or other aspects of your life. Either way, your goal is to model healthy coping skills for your child. If you are struggling with anxiety yourself, it might even mean seeking professional support for yourself as well.

Download the FREE Depression and Anxiety Checklist

5. Try creative ways to get their worries off their minds. One activity that can be done is journaling. Having them write down whenever they are feeling anxious. Then have them rewrite that story with a more helpful ending or practice leaving the worry behind in the journal.

 

  1. Remember to celebrate progress (and even yours in holding back and letting them fail and/or thrive on their own). No matter how small it may seem, encouragement equals continued positive action.

If you are all out of ideas, and things are escalating, it’s ok to ask for help. Globally, social anxiety disorder is the third most prominent mental health issue- that means you or your child are not alone in your experience- so no shame in talking about it.

Start with your school counselor for ideas on supporting your child, maybe their primary care doctor, or reach out and contact a licensed therapist for an assessment and plan of action. Anxiety can be addressed with skills and support, both from a professional and the entire family system.

 

Article written by Kilcy Martinez, Social Work Intern at York College, and Amanda Fludd, Executive Director at Kensho Psychotherapy Services. Our goal is to support your wellbeing and strive to do that in many ways including therapy, group experiences and corporate wellness events.

 

Why Mental Health Plays a Role in the Success of Your Business

Mental Health is a workplace issue

Mental illnesses from a macro viewpoint are associated with higher rates of disability, absenteeism, and unemployment. Emotional experiences like depression and anxiety often interfere with a person’s ability to focus and complete tasks and have even been reported to reduce cognitive performance about 35% of the time. While the impact may not rise to the level of a clinical diagnosis for most workers, they are still susceptible to stress and burnout, seriously affecting their ability to contribute meaningfully in their personal and professional lives.

 

Data from several countries worldwide indicate that mental health problems are behind a considerable number of employees dropping out of work, particularly as we navigate returning to work post-pandemic. It’s the elephant in the room that can no longer be avoided, with Covid-19 having a lasting impact on the workforce. It was hard before, it’s a crisis now, and we are at a juncture that requires us individually and collectively to shift our work culture and prioritize mental health. 

Mental health was a massive issue in the workplace before the pandemic. It was hard before, and it’s a crisis now. 

 

Workplace Well-being

Mental health is something we all possess. When it is good, we have a sense of purpose and direction and feel that we can cope with whatever life (and work) throws at us. But just as our physical health fluctuates, so too our mental health. This is even true for solopreneurs or entrepreneurs, with one study out of the University of California finding that out 49% of entrepreneurs surveyed had at least one mental illness, and about one-third struggled with two or more conditions like depression and anxiety.   

Emotional challenges at work can contribute to: 

  •   Decreased productivity and performance
  •   Reduced engagement with one’s work
  •   Decreased physical capability 
  •   Poor communication with coworkers
  •   Increase in employer mental health spending with behavioral health claims responsible for a 20% increase in that area.

At any one time, at least one in six workers are experiencing common mental health problems (some studies have it as one in five), and it’s no surprise that these adults are tasked with dealing with their mental health in the workplace. Depression contributes to about 400 million lost workdays annually. Poor mental health costs US employers up to $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year, and within the UK, mental health problems in the workplace cost the economy approximately £70 billion annually. 

Good mental health enables not just the individual to thrive but the business. The WHO has estimated that for every $1 invested into the treatment and support of mental health disorders, business see a return of $4 in improved health and productivity.

 

Tips for Managers, Leaders & Colleagues

Some common signs that can surface in colleagues who are struggling with their emotional well-being:

 

1. They exhibit (or often talk about) physical symptoms, such as tiredness related to disrupted sleep or persistent headaches. 

2. Withdrawal from the team, more isolative.

3. Loss of interest in work, sadness, or constant worry

4. Noticeable irritability or conversely complacent 

5. Reference to increased alcohol consumption

6. Procrastination, indecisiveness, slowed productivity (missing deadlines and deliverables).

7. Absence may increase, or alternatively, they start to work much longer hours, starting early or staying late.

 

Employers are uniquely positioned to encourage employees to get help if they are experiencing issues with their mental health. Not only that, most workers want their employers to champion mental health and well-being in the workplace.

 

Employee/Self Care is Key to A Thriving Workplace 

Five small changes that can be made with little effort and improve employee well-being: 

1. Flexible hours. Discuss with your staff a reasonable plan to reduce their stress while navigating return post-pandemic. One size does not fit all.  

2. Enforce working hours. This can be done by limiting out-of-hours work and encouraging reduced email access outside of office hours

3. Increase supervision and team support: If possible, avoid employees working in a solely isolated way. If they are working from home extensively, make sure there are regular check-ins not just on work but also on challenges that impact the work.  

4. Share resources: Provide support services, share available resources like EAP information, child care options, and how to access staff members or consultants who have training in mental health and workplace stress. Make sure support is widely and regularly communicated. 

5. Promote self-care breaks: That may include reminders to eat healthy, group walks, or quiet time at the end of meetings. 

 

Other ways companies are investing in corporate wellness:

1. Changing company cultures – Get intentional about creating a culture of understanding and openness around mental health. This can mean HR programs taking steps to prevent burnout and build employee resiliency. It could also mean supervisors being mindful of and allowing employees to speak openly about mental health challenges or even implementing mandatory self-care time. Some companies have even implemented paid or unpaid mental health days from work, and staff is encouraged to utilize it before they feel overwhelmed or emotionally unwell. 

 

2. Incorporate a Wellness Menu – If wellness is not a regular part of the culture, invest in it. Progressive agencies are mandating self-care, and a part of that is providing options for staff to pick from during the workweek, such as the 30 mindful mornings or wellness workshops I recently facilitated at a Law Firm in NY. Other options include training on topics such as overthinking and productivity, stress and the body, or trauma-informed care. 

When the agency prioritizes care, it sends a message to the employee that your wellness matters, and that is often reciprocated back with increased productivity and a reduction in turnover. 

 

It will take all of us to help alleviate the impact of COVID-19 related stress and the emotional impact it continues to have on ourselves, colleagues, and communities. Our Mental Health Consultant Team can support you in your journey to promote workplace well-being and raise mental health awareness in the workplace or to personally develop yourselfGet in touch to find out more.

You can find additional resources from The American Psychiatric Association (APA)  here or when emotions are significantly impacting functioning refer colleagues to therapy here: Psychologytoday.com, Cliniciansofcolor.com, Therapyforblackmen.org, and Openpathcollective.com.

 

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R, Psychotherapist and Corporate Mental Health Consultant

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