Mental health is a topic that is now being recognized as a serious issue today. In this blog, Industry Scholar Intern, Efia Blair, explores the definition of mental health and the surprising things she learned exploring the topic. Efia believes the Coronavirus lockdown shed light on why mental health is so important. The lockdown brought a lot of awareness to mental health because people were stuck in their houses for such a long time that it was inevitable for them to begin to experience mental health issues and illness as they grappled with change, uncertainty, loneliness, and new stressors.
So, What Is Mental Health?
Well, it is your overall emotional well-being, and it is critical for us because it controls our actions and reactions. Various things can impact your mental health. Still, your main concern should be taking precautions to improve or sustain your mental health.
One thing that was surprising to me, that widened my knowledge on mental health, is that not only can mental health affect your state of mind but also your physical health. Your body can stop functioning how it used to because of psychological effects, increasing your possibility of developing an illness. Did you know that? I had no idea the mental and physical health connection was that strong. I also learned that our mental health can affect our ability to make decisions if our mental health is compromised. One more thing, did you know mental health problems can be passed down through genes? I thought your mental health was only affected by one’s environment or if you’ve experienced some sort of trauma.
How Can You Protect Your Mental Health?
Mental health struggles are sometimes inevitable, but many practices can help support good mental health. First, you can connect with a therapist to talk to someone and get the help you need. Sometimes it’s helpful to speak about your feelings out loud. You can also start new hobbies, join a new club, or connect to the people around you. Those two essential acts- asking for help and doing things you enjoy can help protect your mental health in more ways than you realize.
What things are you doing to protect your mental health? What about using a journal like this one or taking the time to nurture your well-being with walks, meditation, or yoga? Please share your suggestions in the comments!
Researched and Written by High School Student Efia Blair for Kensho Psychotherapy Services, where she is an intern through Industry Scholars. If you or someone you know in the NY area is in need of a therapist or counselor, please click here and submit your details for someone to get back to you. The practice offers individual, family, or couples therapy and accepts several insurances like Aetna, 1199, BCBS, UHC, and Optum.
When bad things happen in life, it’s natural for our minds to go to the negative, but it’s important to remember that we can reframe our thinking and look at things in a way that supports momentum. The ability to reframe our thoughts and find optimism takes work, but it’s possible with a few simple steps.
Just Notice. The first step in reframing a situation that may trigger negative thoughts is noticing it’s happening in the first place.
What is the conversation you are having in your head? Especially to something you are anticipating. Is your self-talk helpful? Once you can capture the thoughts that are not, you can begin to capture those lemons and reframe them into something more practical and productive to you.
Look for Unhelpful Thought Styles. We all have default thinking styles that show up occasionally, like seeing the worst in a situation or minimizing your success. When you know those unhelpful thinking patterns, you can notice them faster and challenge them. For example, if we find ourselves engaging in negative self-talk, we can reframe those thoughts and focus on more positive and realistic interpretations of the situation.
For example, in a relationship, if the thought pops up, “If my partner doesn’t agree with me on this, then they must not love me.” This type of thinking ignores the complexities often present in relationships and the things that are going well, quickly triggering frustration, disappointment, and resentment.
What if, instead, we considered the other possibilities and changed that thought to something like, “my partner may not see eye to eye on this with me, but I know they are willing to listen and engage with me, which is a sign of their love and commitment to our relationship.” How does that sound instead? How does it compare to the first thought?
Keep A Gratitude Journal. One powerful technique is gratitude. When we focus on what we are grateful for, we shift our attention away from negative thoughts and experiences and teach our brains to search for the positive. This can help us feel more optimistic about the future, even under challenging circumstances.
Take a few moments daily to identify 2-3 things you’re grateful for. It could improve your overall happiness.
Avoid Worst-Case Scenario Thinking. Everything isn’t going to have a horrible outcome. Instead of imagining what that can be, focus on the present moment and take things one step at a time. This can help you feel more in control and less overwhelmed by negative thoughts and emotions.
Cultivate your people! Surrounding yourself with the right people can make a big difference in staying optimistic and motivated. Having supportive friends and family members willing to listen and offer encouragement can help us feel less alone, seen, understood, and focused. If you can’t find positive people to draw from or feel like negative only follows you- reframe your thoughts! Don’t be afraid to look for the connections you need in your life in the form of mentors, joining associations, or partnering with like-minded groups. You can cultivate your people!
Let me know which approach you need to embrace more often in the comments below.
Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R, is a Licensed Psychotherapist and Mental Health consultant. She works in partnership with organizations and institutions like schools and corporations to assess an organization’s emotional health, designing customized mental health and wellness workshops to help teams navigate stress, burnout, and trauma so they can thrive well.
This post contains affiliate links. Read our full disclosure here.
Do you ever take the time to celebrate your progress? For most, it’s barely a thought, only focusing on the outcome, but is this hurting your potential?
Suppose we continue to push this mentality of working hard and hustle culture without space for acknowledging just how far we’ve come? In that case, you leave room for the disappointment of perfectionism and actually increase the likelihood of poor follow-through.
Join me as I dive into this blog on celebrating your wins, valuing your worth, and leveraging that to motivate you or your team.
WHY YOU MIGHT STRUGGLE TO CELEBRATE YOUR PROGRESS:
Do you ever take time to celebrate your success or accomplishments? Or even acknowledge the small wins in those around you?
I can picture you saying, “hmm….I don’t know” or “haven’t thought about that.” Well, think about what the message to yourself is or your organization when you don’t do that.
We are often so caught up on the daily to-dos and the pressure of unrealistic demands that we actually forget to notice what we’ve accomplished, or acknowledge the accomplishments of our peers sharing office air or zoom rooms around us. Well, I don’t think we forget, I think we are conditioned to discount the small wins as “not good enough” because we haven’t reached that destination, completed the project, achieved the goal, or received praise for it.
However, something powerful happens if you take the time to think about what it takes to get to your end goal and the tasks you’ve managed to pull off along the way.
When I trained for the NYC Marathon a few years back, 26.2 miles was the outcome. Still, there were many important milestones along the way- like actually deciding I could run that far (absolutely not a distance runner), hitting key milage like 13.2, 15 miles, 18 miles, and positioning myself for 26.2. What was more important at race day wasn’t the race itself but what it took to get there. Each time I hit a milestone, it reinforced that this was possible, and I also saw the shifts in friends and family around me and their excitement that this was actually happening. All of the above was motivation to complete one of the most challenging events in my life, next to birthing babies.
THE POWER OF PROGRESS IS FUNDAMENTAL TO HUMAN NATURE
Whether you are trying to bring in a big sale, develop a high-quality product or service, forge a new path in life, or get a handle on your anxiety, acknowledging everyday progress can make all the difference in how you feel and perform. That same concept of having and acknowledging the small milestones is not just a great way to motivate yourself, but also your team. If you can help them see the value of the steps, they have accomplished and find ways to acknowledge that as their leader, you are building their intrinsic ability to perform (and maybe even like what they are doing).
The power of progress is fundamental to human nature. Think about the excitement of parents encouraging a child to take a few steps as they learn to walk and the level of trust that child feels in themselves and the external motivator to take that step. Then the joy of the accomplishment. That celebration is an inspiration for that impressionable tiny human to keep walking until it turns into a full-out run. That concept of internal self-reliance is one we have to foster through our personal self-development. However, externally, a powerful and underutilized motivator by managers and leaders is praise.
We never stop being that little kid that responds to external praise, guidance, and support.
REMIND YOURSELF OF THE GOAL
I collaborate with clients to set goals and meaningful milestones because it’s the GPS for our work. It’s a sign of progress that we are going toward their goals, and for my clients, it becomes a focal point for the work. It’s easy to get distracted by the expectations of others or the disappointment we feel if we aren’t working fast “enough” or we aren’t where we should be. Those steps become a blueprint for reframing our focus and keeping us motivated.
BUILD A STRONGER SUPPORT SYSTEM BY SURROUNDING YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE IN YOU.
As I’ve hinted so far, part of your success is dependent on your ability to slow down and acknowledged your progress, or to embrace even the small wins. I encourage my high-achieving and driven women in business to enjoy the journey regularly as we look at developing a flexible growth mindset. Their drive can easily distract from the small but significant gains.
Another critical factor is who is on your team to provide external support? Does your team even know what you’re working on, and are they equipped to recognize those steps and high-five you along that process? You want a team that can nourish your progress and see it as essential to the larger objective. If you want to achieve bigger goals, build a support system of people with whom you can share your goals and who can also believe in your journey and recognize your progress.
Progress is a complex formula of how we view our support systems (organizations, management, workers, family, or friends) and how confident and equipped we feel in our abilities and ourselves. These join forces to either push us to higher levels of achievement or stunt our growth, contributing to resistance like overthinking, procrastination, stress, and inaction.
Stop minimizing your wins. It’s part of your progress and worth celebrating.
You are worth celebrating.
DO THE WORK: AN EXERCISE TO BUILD MOTIVATION
Let’s switch gears and do some heavy lifting to practice the ideas we’ve discussed so far.
Take a moment to reflect on this question I recently shared with several of the leaders doing a recent mindset workshop:
What beliefs about yourself do you have that may not be a fact?
When you think of your goals, what are some of the thoughts that come up around them that create obstacles to action?
How does the expectations of you based on your identity (such as gender or race) influence those thoughts?
Remember the work starts with your understanding of yourself and how your life experiences or expectations cause you to respond both internally and externally. Have you considered what parts of those thoughts or processes are getting in the way of your progress?
Let’s take a look at your progress: Take 10 minutes to brainstorm your wins for this week. Go ahead, set a timer, start writing, then come back to this piece.
How many wins were you able to come up with? Celebrate that.
Notice how it feels to acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments. Permit yourself to feel the pride, joy, or even the discomfort that comes up with acknowledging yourself. Sit with that feeling for 15-30 seconds as you remind yourself you are worth celebrating, you are doing a great job, and you are fully capable of navigating the next step towards your goal.
You can easily do this for the team as well. What wins did your staff or business hit in the past week? Who had a role in that? Celebrate them.
As you get into a regular practice of reassessing and acknowledging yourself, it gets easier to motivate yourself and build and support those around you.
Disclaimer: We independently review everything we recommend and suggest what may be helpful to you. Take a look, but do your own research before purchasing. If you do buy through our links, we sometimes earn a commission at no cost to you.
Goal setting for the new year is a process loaded with emotions like excitement, hope, disappointment, and anxiety as you reflect on what you weren’t able to accomplish and where you want to be.
If we pull the curtains back on these emotions, we probably find a mind ruminating on mistakes and setbacks and having a hard time with why they can’t follow through with goals and plans and keep their most important promise – the one to themselves. If you think about setting New Year’s resolutions alone, we get excited when that ball drops with all the possibilities, but by February, all the machines are empty again at the gym, all the items on our to-do list suddenly feels too complicated, and we are too busy to keep our commitments and our motivation tanks.
But committing to – and crushing – your goals doesn’t have to be this exercise in overwhelm.
In this blog, I’m sharing some thoughts I’ve had about following through on your goals (even past the resolutions) and the role of mindset in staying on task.
But before we break down the struggle with follow-through, let’s first take a minute to get on the same page about what the word even means. What do I mean when I say follow through?
Well, according to the websters dictionary, follow-through means “to complete (an activity or process that has been started)”. In other words, follow-through is an action (or set of actions) that you do in order to continue something you’ve already started, hopefully to an endpoint, or a goal.
We follow through with a lot of things in our lives, like getting up in the morning and getting dressed to get to work, when we cook a meal from prep to finish, pulling into a parking spot, etc. There are a lot of things we do often and easily get to the endpoint.
The obstacle comes when we want to follow through on a task that is challenging, unfamiliar, or new.
It’s when we set a goal for ourselves- whether it’s finishing a project by a certain deadline, learning a new language, building your side hustle after you get home from work, or getting to the gym five times a week (at the same time as all of the above), that follow-through gets to be more challenging and we fall off the wagon.
Why Do We Let Ourselves Down?
It’s not on purpose. Who wants to break a promise? And to ourselves!
The truth is, we tend to fight harder to keep our commitments to others than we sometimes do for ourselves. For example, you may find yourself working late to meet a deadline and put off going to the gym. Somewhere in our human development, we’ve learned to put the needs of others before our own, without the counterbalance of boundaries and self-advocacy.
Another reason we may not keep our commitment to self is our perfectionist and high achieving self, set the bar too damn high with unrealistic standards that are not attainable. That’s right, you set yourself up for failure.
It also doesn’t help that as a society, we are saturated by images and messages around us that say you should be able to do everything and make it look effortless. Growth and achievement are the opposite- it’s complex, dirty, messy, requires mistakes and flexibility.
Our success, performance, and happiness are deeply connected to our own beliefs about ourselves and our thinking styles around our capabilities. It’s easy for audacious goals to trigger doubts and avoidance- maybe I don’t know enough to do this, this is too hard because I’m not good enough or strong enough or as [blank] enough to attain that level, or I’m just going to fail at this too.
These negative thoughts and ideas easily trigger undoing actions like talking ourselves out of things or finding what we believe are more critical things to focus on.
It always helps to track those goals and work on changing them and we have several pages that tackle that in our new Digital Wellness Planner.
How to Follow Through On Your Goals:
Write them down. Decide on a goal and write it down. Place reminders of your goals on your desk, on your phone, and anywhere else you look often. The reminder to stay on track is sometimes all you need to help you make better decisions.
A dose of reality. Reassess your goals from time to time. Is it realistic? Well, neither were Elon Musks’ goals. You do want to dream outside of your limits, but note how it makes you feel. You do want to eventually experience some progress in the direction of your goals, however small. Aim for a balance of intrigue and challenge, with a dash of struggle, but lean away from delusional.
Let go of limitations & finally work on yourself. Learn to tune into your own limiting beliefs that have been well crafted to keep you safe. It’s harder to achieve your goals when you respond to those beliefs and fears. Embracing a growth mindset is key here. Read more, make time for podcasts on your way to work, surround yourself with other ambitious people, and get connected with experiences that will challenge your mindset and optimize your outcomes.
Please don’t do it alone. It can be tough to keep resolutions on your own. Yes, you can probably do a lot by yourself, but all the quotes on success talk about the village and going further and faster together.
According to research from The American Society of Training and Development, people with an accountability partner are 65% more likely to reach their goals.
Small digestible steps. Once you are clear on what you want, set the goal, and don’t look at it as one big overwhelming whole, but break it up into small, realistic objectives that collectively will help you get to your destination. If your goals are too big or vague, it is also more challenging to sustain.
Repetition is key. Repetition speaks to the process required to get to your outcome. We often focus on what we want, like losing 30lbs or writing a book, but not on what is necessary to get there. Maybe it’s going to the gym twice a week or if you want to be an exceptional writer getting up at 5a and writing for an hour every day. It’s the repetition of those actions that lead to achieving those goals.
Mix in self-compassion. That critical self will probably appear several times as you work on your goals. By adding self-compassion to the mix, you can change the impact of negative self-talk. When you notice a negative thought, just notice it and visualize it floating away- like a balloon floating away. The better you get at slaying that inner critic and replacing it with something more positive or helpful: Like a hug, encouraging yourself like you would a friend, or shifting to your favorite mantra, the greater your chances of success.
Get your stress and anxiety under control. It’s hard to focus on your goals when you are not in optimal physical or emotional health. Things like overeating, alcohol, withdrawing to your room all day, self-harm, or engaging in avoidant behaviors are counterproductive to your success and a sign you need professional help to support your progress. Knowing your triggers and adding to your coping toolbox is an excellent self-care strategy.
Maybe your goal this year is to find two to three healthy ways to relax and cope with stress.
Don’t forget to have fun. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the process that we forget to enjoy the journey. Work hard, celebrate the small victories, and find ways to make fun a priority. It’s much easier to work on a task when some part of it feels good. Don’t just look it where you want to be, think about how you want to feel.
Do you ever struggle with follow-through? What is your top strategy to follow through on your plans? Let me know below!
If you are a woman in business, entrepreneur, educator, coach, etc, and would love to be a part of our accountability group for women of color, visit the Mastermind page here for details. Sometimes we just need consistent support and accountability to hit those goals.
Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R isn’t just a Psychotherapist. She is here to help women in business tackle the fear behind success, master their emotions, and use their strengths to achieve the next level in their business. Take a look at how she can support you here: amandafludd.com/coaching.
Disclaimer: There are affiliate links on this page, which means we get a small commission for anything you decide to buy. We only recommend quality products, but you should do your research before making a purchase.
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 here. Negative 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 clients, you 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.
Navigating anxiety, stress and overwhelm in the moment is critical. Here are a few ways some of our clients do that:
Embrace mindfulness or regular meditation practice (try apps like stop, breathe, think or calm.com)
Schedule breaks within the day
Brain dump to-do lists and work on the top 3 items at a time instead of being overwhelmed by EVERYTHING on the list
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!
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
“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.”
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.