May is Mental Health Awareness Month!
As many of you know, in my 20s while working as a nurse, I suffered from bulimia, medicating myself with food to combat a depression. I had no idea I could free myself from craving and depressive symptoms until I was recommended to see a therapist by a boyfriend who was breaking up with me. Back in the 80s, I thought therapy was for people who were suicidal, addicted, or "crazy". And I was a member of the healthcare community! My beliefs were due partly because of, (a) my denial of the severity of my symptoms, (b) my lack of awareness of available mental healthcare services, and (c) the stigma attached to receiving mental healthcare. Many Americans will not seek mental healthcare today, for these very reasons.One of the reasons I was so depressed (and in need of comfort) was because of all the negative and ruminative thoughts I had about myself. For example:
"You're too fat!"
"No one wants to hear what you have to say"
"You're a bad person"
"You're not enough"
"You're not worthy of love and happiness"
When I began therapy in my 20's, I learned how to identify my thoughts and feelings, as well as their origins. But they did not go away. I learned how to distract myself from cravings, but they did not go away.
Then, 9 years ago, I began to meditate. Over the past few years, being still long enough to see the negative thoughts as "just thoughts", not identifying with them, and being compassionate with myself while experiencing them resulted in a reduction of those negative thoughts, and a reduction in cravings. Finally, a light at the end of a very long tunnel!
And research bears this out! In the journal "JAMA Internal Medicine", Goyal and colleagues reviewed 47 studies of over 3,500 participants, and found that taking an 8-week class in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR, can improve anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. What was most amazing is that the effect sizes for the improvements found through meditation were stronger than the effect sizes for the improvements found from antidepressant medication (unless someone was very severely depressed, then antidepressants beat meditation as a treatment modality). Because of these findings, Goyal recommended that "clinicians should be prepared to talk with their patients about the role that a meditation program can have in addressing psychological distress".
If you, too, suffer from negative thoughts, I first recommend you learn to meditate. Signing up for one of the classes below can help you establish a consistent daily meditation practice. If that doesn't help, consulting a therapist or psychiatrist may be extremely beneficial.
And whenever you experience those negative, pesky thoughts, I recommend you stop, take a breath, observe the thought without judgment, and then nurture yourself for having to experience it. I often put my hand on my heart and say, Oh...that's a painful thought! In addition, click on the picture below for another tool to help you identify and reduce those "stupid thoughts".
Faulk Center for Counseling's
3rd Annual Butterfly Release to commemorate Mental Health Awareness Month
Thursday, May 9, from 4:30 to 7:30
Early detection and treatment of mental health problems is essential to an individual’s overall health and well-being. Like the transformation of a butterfly representing change, rebirth and renewal, individuals who seek help from the Faulk Center for Counseling learn to think differently, feel healthier and live happier.
Click here to learn more
Click here to donate a butterfly!
Summer Mindfulness Classes
Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) is an 8-week course that combines the skills of mindfulness and self-compassion, providing a powerful tool for emotional resilience. Mindfulness is the first step in emotional healing—being able to turn toward and acknowledge our difficult thoughts and feelings (such as inadequacy, sadness, anger, confusion) with a spirit of openness and curiosity. Self-compassion involves responding to these difficult thoughts and feelings with kindness, sympathy and understanding so that we soothe and comfort ourselves when we’re hurting. Research has shown that self-compassion greatly enhances emotional well-being.
Free Information Sessions:
Tuesday evening in Wilton Manors, 5/21, 6:00 to 7:30 pm at Zen Mind Space in Wilton Manors with Sharon
Wednesday evening in Boca Raton, 5/22, 6 to 7:30 pm at Boca Raton Physical Therapy with Sharon
Summer Classes Begin:
Tuesday evenings in Wilton Manors, 6/4 - 7/23 from 6:00 to 8:45 at Zen Mind Space with Sharon
Wednesday evenings in Boca Raton, 6/5 - 7/24 from 6 - 8:45 pm at Boca Raton Physical Therapy with Sharon
Sign up for Class or for free information session here
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is an 8-week program based on the practice of mindfulness.The key to mindfulness is a non-judgmental awareness that enables you to respond with greater clarity, stability and understanding to life’s stressors, rather than reacting in unhealthy ways. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. pioneered MBSR at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in 1979, and this program is highly respected in the medical community, with classes in over 720 medical centers, hospitals, and clinics around the world. The program consists of eight weekly two and 1/2 hour classes, and a one-day retreat (on a weekend) between sessions six and seven.
Free Information Sessions:
Mon, 5/20, 11:30 - 2 pm at Yoga Source in Coral Springs with Piero
Tues, 5/21, 12:00 to 2:30 pm at Zen Mind Space in Wilton Manors with Sharon
Thurs, 5/23, 6 - 8:30 pm at Boca Raton Physical Therapy with Piero
Sat, 5/25, 10:30 - 1 pm at Boca Raton Physical Therapy with Piero
Winter Classes Begin:
Mon, 6/3 - 7/22, 11:30 - 2 pm at Yoga Source in Coral Springs with Piero
Tues, 6/4 - 7/23, 12:00 to 2:30 pm at Zen Mind Space in Wilton Manors with Sharon
Thurs, 6/6 - 7/25, 6 - 8:30 pm at Boca Raton Physical Therapy with Piero
Sat, 6/8 - 7/27, 10:30 - 2 pm at Boca Raton Physical Therapy with Piero
Click here to Register for Class or Free Information Session