Monthly Archives: December 2015

Turning New Year’s Resolutions Into Reality

Go ahead and make New Year’s resolutions. E.J. Masicampo, assistant professor of psychology at Wake Forest University, can help you keep them.

An expert on goal setting and will power, Masicampo offers six tips for turning resolutions into reality:

Commit to a specific plan. Where and when are you going to do what you resolve to do? Committing to a specific plan to accomplish a goal not only makes it more likely to be done, but it also gets it off your mind so you can accomplish other things.

Picture yourself carrying out your plan. Sports research shows that imagined practice is almost as good as physical practice for training new skills and habits. Keeping resolutions is also about creating new habits. When you imagine carrying out the specific plans that you set, you’re more likely to carry them out with ease.

Monitor your progress. One of the simplest things you can do to meet your standards is to keep track of how well you’re doing. If you’re dieting, weigh yourself or record your caloric intake daily. Signs of failure will energize you to change. Signs of success will encourage you to keep on going.

Kill two birds with one stone. Goals often compete and interfere with one another, but sometimes you can combine them. For example, is your resolution competing with your desire to socialize? Turn your resolution-related activities into social activities. This will save you from having to sacrifice one goal for another.

Connect with someone who shares your goal. Goals are contagious. If someone close to you is pursuing a goal, you’ll be more likely to pursue it, too.

Create a routine and stick to it. Every time you engage in a behavior, you make it easier to enact again later. Do a goal-related activity at the same time and in the same place every day or week, and eventually the behavior will become habit.

“We roll our eyes at people’s resolutions because we often see them fail,” Masicampo says. “But, research shows that small changes in how people think about and manage their goals can make all the difference.”

In his social psychology lab, Masicampo studies goal setting, self-control, decision-making, conscious thought and moral judgments. He has published numerous scholarly articles on related topics.

Source- Newswise 


38 Tips For Finding Ways to Relax


relaxing photo

Photo by Greyerbaby (Pixabay)

This past week I met with a few of my former colleagues and we ended up discussing the various ways we tend to de-stress over the weekend. I thought many of the suggestions shared were great and wanted to share them with you!

If you are a parent, family member, or caregiver of someone with a severe or untreated mental illness, taking care of yourself is even more important. Caring for a loved one can deplete you of all your motivation. Even more, if you are a parent, a mental health professional, or simply a living, breathing human being, life can deplete you of all of your motivation and energy on a daily basis. Let’s face it, as beautiful as life can be, it can also bring a load of problem, burdens, and stressors. Because of this, it is very important that you take care of yourself and your health. One way to do that is by relaxing. Relaxing is very difficult for me sometimes and I’m sure you find it challenging to tell yourself “just relax.” So allow me to encourage you by the great list, compiled during a therapy session with a client, of wonderful ways to take time away from daily life:

  1. Read (reading a book in bed is nice at times)
  2. Sleep in
  3. Write (journaling, blogging, etc.)
  4. Pray (prayer is simply talking to God about the things that bother you and asking Him to intervene. Prayer does not have to be a formal activity. Be yourself and relax).
  5. Go for a walk with loved ones
  6. Photography (“buy a nice camera and take pictures of nature, family, and friends”)
  7. Exercise (swim, yoga, walking, jogging, Zumba, aerobics, hiking, gymnastics). I just love Refit, a group of free-spirited women who love to dance their stress away. Check them out!
  8. Meditate
  9. Engage in introspection (sit quietly and rest your mind and soul)
  10. Go for a drive
  11. Stroll through the mall
  12. Buy yourself something nice (doesn’t have to be expensive!)
  13. Listen to podcasts online
  14. Listen to music (upbeat music can have a positive effect on mood, while slower-paced music can encourage feelings of depression. There are times, however, when lower paced music can give you a sense of peace and calm).
  15. Try Pilates
  16. Find a dance class (some classes are offered for free at local Community Colleges, agencies, or gyms)
  17. Sit next to a stream, pond, or river
  18. Go to a pet shop
  19. Play with your dog(s) or cat
  20. Look at a magazine with attractive pictures (looking at photos can give you a sense of joy)
  21. Look at family photos or watch family videos that make you smile
  22. Seek personal therapy (check into your EAP-Employee Assistance Program at work)
  23. Seek pastoral counseling or support
  24. Call a prayer line or submit a prayer request online
  25. Play with your children or other kids
  26. Become a mentor for needy youth (offering your time gets your mind off of your own needs and helps someone at the same time!)
  27. Travel (traveling can entail going somewhere other than your usual spots. Traveling gives you a whole new perspective on life)
  28. Try aromatherapy (purchase some sweet smelling scents and spray around your home, on yourself, or in your bedroom)
  29. Engage in an online group discussion (be cautious and safe)
  30. Watch cartoons! (as silly as this may sound, cartoons are uplifting and can put you in another mindset temporarily)
  31. Get a manicure, pedicure, or massage
  32. Go camping or build a campfire (if done safely, you can enjoy this right in your own backyard)
  33. Go on a picnic with someone you love or go alone
  34. Spend time with someone you love or think about them
  35. Go to the movies
  36. Stay in your pajamas or lounge clothes all day
  37. Sing
  38. Check Pinterest (there are some great quotes and pictures on this site)

I welcome your suggestions and additions to this list! What are some things you do to de-stress?


All the best to you


2 Ways to Prevent Isolation and Suicide

“I feel abandoned … I feel misunderstand … why do they avoid me?” Almost everyone we serve, and the numerous people I have talked to dealing with a mental health challenge, often say these things about their church, friends, and family. Not only the individual, but often times the families with a loved-one struggling with mental health difficulties or a diagnosis have the same experience. They stay quiet and out of the way to avoid rejection.

Unfortunately this is why many of them hide behind the mask of “I’m fine,” isolate from others, and even why they choose death to escape the heavy burden of depression.

I helped a young man right after he was released from two weeks in a psychiatric hospital; his family was in another city and his church small group never followed up. No one would meet with him, but I got the call. He was bitter, feeling alone and abandoned. Granted, even after two weeks in the hospital his thoughts and behaviors were not yet stable, but as a human being, he had needs just like all of us. Someone who would care, listen, and just be there. Many of our times together we I just sat and listened, but also provided the ingredients below to see him make progress. 

Without the simple ingredients of community no one recovers.

The idea of serving someone who is struggling with a mental health difficulty or diagnosis sounds, and feels, overwhelming. Unfortunately, that’s why people pull away, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are two simple things anyone can do … and what to consider.

1) Rebuild trust through joy…  One of the greatest secrets in rebuilding trust is through joyous laughter. Simply relax and laugh!

We all love and want humor, trying at all cost to elude pain – because it takes the edge off. Think of all the TV commercials you remember most — chances are they are the most humorous ones. Research reveals that humor has huge benefits for people when they’re grieving or dealing with life’s hardships. Laughter has positive physical effects, strengthening the immune system, benefitting circulation and the muscles around your mid-section, and lowering mental and emotional stress. We always use laughter in our Thrive program and Support Groups because people need to be enjoyed.

Laughing through anxiety … one of the people I have coached through our Thrive program experienced extreme anxiety, and our conversations were quite serious. But every week, through the course of our dialogue, I always made an effort to connect with a joyful spirit and share a big laugh together. This individual always walked away refreshed.

Laughing through tension … a family I worked with a while back was having incredible tension with their loved one (with a mood disorder). We simply discussed taking time to play a game or watch a comedy movie together. The simple rule in those times was to lay aside the “issues,” do not bring them up or subtly use them as leverage in any sort of way. They fought through the discouragement and tried it. They were surprised how much it helped. I talked to their loved-one and it was helpful in lower the wall of tension. Life was not perfect, but they were re-building and establishing a message to each other … “We may be at odds, but I still love and enjoy you.” They were rebuilding a safe relationship.

2) Rebuild trust through encouragement… There is a reason why the apostle Paul wrote to the churches,

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,” (1 Thessalonians 5.11) or “Do not let any unwholesome talk come from your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up according to their needs, so that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4.29).

It is easy to focus on the hurt, the betrayal, the damage, and making sure we keep distance from their “strange” behavior, but  we can focus on GIVING them encouragement. It will strengthening them and even help in reducing their symptoms (anxiety, fears, depression, voices, mania-anger, and even tactile hallucinations). I often do this with people in distress and I see two things: tears of relief and their difficult symptoms begin to minimize (even within minutes). Why because it empowers them to a new reality about themselves and begins to calm down the mind and mood.

The biggest struggle with mental health difficulties and mental illness is the ongoing challenge of negative thinking. So much of their therapy is learning to manage and restructure these negative thought patterns. Encouragement rebuilds a person’s self-worth and boosts them into living off that new “belief-worth.” It is part of building emotional wholeness, and we all need it!

Plus, when you look at the Bible, this is God’s nature. He looks past our flaws and the diagnosis and always encourages us with a greater purpose of who we are.

The most powerful thing you can say to someone is, “I believe in you.”

During one of Peter’s early encounters with Jesus, Peter tells Jesus to reject him because he is so plagued with his failure and being unworthy to God, “go away from me I am a sinful man” (Luke 5.8). Jesus doesn’t respond saying,“Yeah, you need to work on that … you can’t really be with Me until you’re more whole.” Jesus calmed his fears and gave him encouragement – the only way God saw him. Jesus gave Peter his true identity and a purpose, “Don’t’ be afraid, from now on you’ll be a fisher of men.”

Jesus knew the dominion of sin was not Peter’s identity, nor his purpose. Jesus knew it was His grace that would be Peter’s new reality. It’s almost like Jesus was saying, “Before you can really understand and believe in Me, Peter, I believe in you … and I have great things for you.” What was Peter’s response … He left everything to follow Jesus.

Encouragement produces hope.

After one of our support group meetings, I took 5 minutes to encourage a man with co-occurring issue with addiction and mental illness. He was destroying his own life, his marriage, and his family. He was so hurt, he was full of anger and despairing hopelessness. After simply listening to some of his pain, I encouraged him with the valuable characteristics I saw in him, connecting him to an attitude of hope. I looked passed the pain, scars, and mistakes and reminded him who he truly was … his full worth to Jesus. His anxiety and tension faded, the tears streamed down his face … it was like a cup of cold water for a soul in drought. He was all ears, received my directive counsel, and even that week made some better choices (he left his nets of despair and followed after Jesus’s worth in him … grace to improve).

Suicide is the escape to be free, but encouragement is an empowering grace to live.

I used this same approach with one person with a mood disorder and had recently made a huge mistake (sinful choice in the height of mania). We talked, rather they cried through it all, because I discovered they were on their way to end their life. Suicide was the only option to be free. BUT they began to see a different perspective for themselves. It was a journey, but this person is alive and continually comes back saying, “thank you, this literally saved my life.” 

Joy and encouragement does not equal overnight change.

These tips may not work the first time or event the second, third … or in the next month. Most of the time, some people are so discouraged and hurt that they end up cussing you out (and I have had some of those encounters, too). I don’t take it personally, it’s their pain … and I simply look past it to see what Jesus sees.

If you’re a family trying this with your loved-one and they seem more agitated, be patient because you are setting a new course for the relationship. This does not mean you do not have appropriate boundaries for yourself and them, this is more about building a healthy environment for your relationship. It’s a lifestyle change, the recovery process feels more like a marathon, or boot-camp, than a quick sprint.

Just try it to break the isolation and deter suicide … I believe in you!

Let me know what you also think. What else do you think helps to prevent isolation and suicide?

Comment here and on our facebook page. 

Joe Padilla

Founder / Executive Director

Mental Health Grace Alliance

We Need To Stop Calling Suicide ‘Selfish’

AUGUST 12, 2014
Sarah Laughon

Since the news of the suicide of someone who, as a comedian, you’d think would lead a happy-go-lucky life, I’ve heard a lot of people say a lot of things. One thing that keeps getting repeated is how selfish Robin Williams must have been. I’ve heard this word “selfish” get tossed around time and time again when someone takes their life. And, quite frankly, I’ve had enough of it. It’s time we stop calling a mental disconnect a personality flaw. Being selfish, in our society, is generally seen as a bad thing. So when you call suicide selfish, you’re calling it a bad thing. And it is, but not for the reasons you are implying.

Suicide is bad, it’s awful. It is the ending of a life. A living, breathing, thinking, feeling person. It steals loved ones from us. Let it be stated that I am not, in any way, trying to lessen the pain of those who have lost someone to suicide. Death, losing someone, is horrendous and emotional and sad, no matter what the cause. But we have got to stop calling someone who commits suicide selfish. Someone who ends their life is going through a mental struggle we should feel blessed and lucky to not understand.

To not be in a suicidal mindset, to be healthy mentally, is something most of us take for granted. Suicide isn’t something that simply happens. Suicide is a result of someone being so lost that they think ending their life is the only option. It’s not something someone decides to do one day. It’s something that happens when someone loses a long, seemingly endless, internal battle.

“Suicide is not a selfish act. It’s not for attention. It’s for relief. As sad as that sounds, it is. Someone who commits suicide, who goes> all in> for an act that takes it all away, is looking for a way to feel better.”
Suicide doesn’t happen to selfish people, it happens to depressed ones. We can’t keep calling something that people have no control over selfish. It’s selfish of us to tell them “feel better” or “just be happy.” Because when you say those things, you’re not thinking of the person you’re saying them too; you’re thinking of yourself. You want them to get better but you aren’t thinking about how difficult that may be for them. Depression is not something you can just get over and depressed is not something you can just stop being. Depression is a chemical imbalance and sometimes it knocks you down before you can catch yourself. And sometimes the push it gives you is too forceful to pull yourself back up.

Suicide isn’t selfish. It’s sad, yes, but not selfish. It’s selfish of those left behind to try to make light of the deceased’s situation. Suicide is not a selfish act. It’s not for attention. It’s for relief. As sad as that sounds, it is. Someone who commits suicide, who goes> all in> for an act that takes it all away, is looking for a way to feel better. At the point when someone is suicidal, they aren’t thinking about other people, but they aren’t thinking about themselves either. (Which, by definition, rules out their SELFishness.) They are lost, confused, and consumed by a dark feeling that takes away their ability to truly think about the world around them. They get swept up in a bad place and, sometimes, unfortunately, can’t find their way out.

It’s hard to understand how someone could take their life, I get it. I’ve been there. Losing someone to suicide is not fun and you just want answers. But we have to rejoice in the fact that we can’t answer the “why” question ourselves. Because, if we could, we’d be in that same, terrible place our loved one was. We’d understand what it’s like to think suicide is the only option. We’d also realize that it’s not selfish. But I truly hope that you never understand those emotions and realize the confusion behind them.

We, the people left behind, can feel upset and sad and mad and all other types of emotions. But we’ve got to stop trivializing suicide and simply writing it off as selfish. It’s so much more than that and the feelings run so much deeper than that.

So next time you hear someone call suicide selfish, I urge you to tell them to think twice. Tell them they’re lucky to not be able to understand it. Lucky to be able to think of it as selfish, not as necessary, or the only option. Lucky to not be fighting -and maybe losing- a battle. Lucky to be here and be alive.

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About BIPOLAR DEPRESSION | bpHope – bp Magazine Community

Bipolar depression disrupts and devastates lives, and tends to dominate the course of one’s illness. Yet, it’s still difficult to diagnose and a challenge to

Source: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About BIPOLAR DEPRESSION | bpHope – bp Magazine Community

7 Things You Need To Stop Expecting From Others

The biggest disappointments in our lives are often unfulfilled expectations. This is particularly expressed in our relationships and interactions with others. Adjusting your expectations of other people will greatly reduce unnecessary frustration and suffering, for yourself and others, and it will help you focus your attention on what’s really important. It is time to: 1.…

Source: 7 Things You Need To Stop Expecting From Others

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