Healthy Minds for All! Top 10 Reasons for Seeking Clarity and Support

Mind Health, and what I call healthy mind practices, are about optimizing balance, resilience, and happiness. It’s about living with clarity, vibrancy, and a sense of peace–and being present for ourselves and our relationships. That’s how I see it. 

However, when it comes to mental health, we hear more about mental illness. We know that mental illness and seeking treatment are still stigmatized in our culture. For starters, insurance companies mind with butterfliesinsist on a diagnosis from a manual (DSM-5) that catalogs “mental disorders” and people who use mental health services are called “patients.” People who might benefit from seeing counselors or therapists have concerns about having a mental health diagnosis as part of their permanent medical record. Others fear opening “old wounds,” favor a “go it alone” approach, or follow a family pattern of reluctance to get support. I hear about this daily: 

-the grieving person who waited 10 years to speak of her guilt;

-the ideal employee who is so stressed and anxious he can’t focus–let alone sleep–any more;

-the distant or anxious spouse who will not come to counseling despite a chaotic, joyless, and/or sexless home life;

-the disapproving parent who believes talking to strangers about problems is for weak or crazy people.

And my clients, themselves, who believe that last message a little bit, but had the courage to contact me anyway.

Mental illness IS a serious problem and needs care and treatment of course. But then there is everyone else who is not mentally ill and who would benefit from and find greater happiness by seeking out professional help to support a healthy mind. 

In honor of everyone who is in this category and the people who love them, I put together the following Top 10 list.

Top 10 Reasons For Seeking Clarity and Support 

# 10 Like most people, you have a habit or way of reacting to things you want to change, but haven’t been successful so far on your own. It may be something you don’t talk about much.

# 9  Life is challenging! It is normal to be unprepared for situations or crises that arise.

# 8  Not everyone has an airtight support system.

# 7  You want to be in a relationship, but were not taught how to choose a partner and make it work.

# 6  Healthy mind practices build resilience and can help prevent problems in the future. There is no vaccination against mental illness.

# 5  Relationship troubles are not necessarily because someone is mentally ill, but you still may need and want unbiased guidance to clear hurdles faster.

# 4  Grief reactions mimic so-called mental illness symptoms. Grieving people are not mentally ill, but may need a guide to navigate the upheaval a loss can cause.

# 3  Stress is an epidemic and impacts mind, body, spirit, and relationships. Healthy mind practices counteract all of the cultural norms in place (job overload, technology, etc) for chronic stress.

# 2  Unlike previous generations, we know that stress can cause or aggravate health problems. If we don’t resolve stress, we become physically ill.

# 1  A healthy mind is the best predictor of a happy life!  A healthy mind brings a sense of vibrancy, clarity, and peace. It makes us present for ourselves and for relationships.

To find out more about mind health and healthy mind practices and what that could mean for you, check out my web-site and blog posts.

 

 

Inspiration—Power-Up Your Mood in 5 Steps


Webster’s defines the word “inspiration” as follows:  
something that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone

This is true, but there is more. Inspiration is a feeling too. Take a moment and think about something that inspires you or simply recall and imagine yourself inspired. What do you feel in your body?  Maybe a fullness in your chest, a tingling sensation, a feeling of excitement.. How do you imagine yourself sitting or standing when inspired? I am certain no one reading this is picturing themselves slumped over, right?  It is a power pose! Inspiration is, in fact, a great mood enhancer. It is a mood power-up if you will.Inspiration—Power-Up Your Mood in 5 Steps Elise Gaul

Seeking inspiration is a healthy mind practice—especially when you shift into lower gear and need a boost. Use it! Here is how..

1. Set an intention to seek inspiration every day (or every week).

2. Discover ways to get your daily/weekly inspiration power-up. Short readings, TED talks, quotes, the image of an inspiring person, music.. Some people get inspired during their morning exercise when they feel their physical strength most acutely.  Find a variety of sources.

3. Pay attention to how you feel physically as you experience inspiration. Hold onto that feeling a little longer. This enhances the effect.

4. Don’t judge whatever works for you. If you like Oprah, a walk in the woods, Vivaldi.. Seeking inspiration boosts mood and is indicative of a significant neurochemical effect. It is real!

5. Notice also when there is too much. If we get inspired from too many sources, we can actually get over-whelmed and in need of a break.  Keeping a healthy mind means knowing our limits and when we need to power-down too.

Benefits of a Mindful Mind

One trait of a healthy mind is the ability to pay attention and focus. When we are unable to focus and our mind is racing, we can feel overwhelmed, anxious, irritable, or even frozen. Meanwhile, we live in a culture that values busyness and multitasking. Our jobs are particularly demanding, and our electronic devices keep us hopping. How can we make this work? It’s simple– we can’t. It’s not sustainable because too much stress makes us sleepless, angry, unhappy, and eventually makes us ill. This is where mindfulness comes in.

Benefits of a Mindful Mind

Elise Gaul with Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness means paying attention moment to moment. Basically, it means being able to perform the healthy mind skill of focusing attention. However, the benefits go way, way beyond improving attention (thanks to neuroplasticity). Research has shown that mindfulness practice benefits include:

  • Reducing rumination
  • Stress reduction
  • Boosting working memory
  • Decreasing emotional reactivity
  • Increasing cognitive flexibility
  • Increasing relationship satisfaction