Jacob Moore is a public speaker, wellness coach and the founder of NoStigmas, a social movement for mental health equality.
NoStigmas Founder, Jacob Moore speaks at Celebrate Life 2014 on World Suicide Prevention Day in Chicago. Read More
NØSTIGMAS Founder, Jacob Moore was invited to give the keynote speech to close Grand Valley State Universities Mental Health Week. This video contains highlights from that speech.
Habit #5: Therapy (Part 6 of 7)
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” -Carl Rogers, Ph. D.
Over the years, there are various occasions when problems in our lives can cause enough emotional distress to make us feel completely and utterly overwhelmed. Everyone goes through life altering events on their personal timelines. Some are positive while others are negative: new employment, losing a loved one, having a child and empty-nests syndrome for parents. These stepping stones in life can alter a person’s mood so drastically that their mental wellness is submerged in anxiety. At this point, it may be time for a form of therapy.
Whether it’s talking with friends about problems or seeing a professional, some type of therapy is always helpful when dealing with mental issues. It doesn’t have to be a gushy journey of self-discovery. Start by writing down a list of things that frustrate you in your current situation and then ask yourself why each one negatively affects you. It’s important to understand behaviors and emotions in order to modify these feelings. Through these actions, it is possible to regain control and head in the direction to a more pleasurable life.
Types of Therapy
There are four basic types of therapy to improve mental wellness. Individual therapy involves the relationship of the patient and the therapist. Perhaps the most known form, individual therapy is a great way to improve individual mental wellness. Group therapy is when two or more patients attend the same session and this form allows for patients to share experiences and connect with others who have also had similar experiences. Marital, or couples therapy, is ideal for when one person may have a mental disorder or when there are simply communication barriers in the relationship. Attending couples therapy helps couples improve their relationship and move forward. The final form is family therapy. Through this form of therapy, members of a family will help an individual with a mental disorder improve their way of life. It also helps the other family members cope with the disease and clarifies the illness so everyone understands current and future situations.
Approaches to Therapy
Once a type of therapy has been chosen or provided, it’s important to understand a few different approaches to therapy. Psychodynamic therapy is designed off the conclusion that an individual is having emotional problems from an unresolved issue from the past. This form is usually spread out of three to four months but could last for years if necessary. Interpersonal therapy pivots around the interactions between family and friends. The main resolution of this form is to improve communication. Cognitive-behavior therapy helps those with mental illnesses identify and alter incorrect assumptions about their traits. The therapist encourages the patient to perceive himself in a different, more positive viewpoint.
Despite which issues or emotions bring a person to consider therapy, there are several ways to make sure therapy is given the best chance of being successful. It’s important to attend all scheduled meetings and complete any written work assigned. Once with a therapist, it’s vital to participate openly and actively. It’s a good idea to set goals and important to follow those goals directly. Doing these steps will help improve mental wellness and reduce anxiety and stress.
Habit #4: Mental Exercise (Part 5 of 7)
“Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.” -Gandhi or
“There are no limitations to the mind except those we acknowledge.” -Napoleon Hill
As people grow older, many worry about becoming more forgetful with age. Early cases of Alzheimer’s or dementia are very real threats but scientists are saying that most people remain able and alert with age, but simply have trouble remembering certain things. In order to stay sharp and maintain mental wellness, there are several types of mental exercises one can perform to stay sharp and alert.
First, it’s important to develop hobbies or special interests to stay involved with activities that stimulate the mind and body. By keeping up with these activities, individuals can maintain a healthy state of mind. Something as simple as playing darts can accomplish both goals. Keep score with a pen and paper (or chalkboard) and practice your aim while challenging friends over a fun game. Playing billiards or cards can also stimulate the mind and body.
For those who don’t have time for these games, there are several other options for mental exercise. Puzzle books like crosswords or sudoku are portable and a great way to practice a mental exercise while waiting for the kids after school or riding the bus. These games are also available on most smart phones for those who don’t wish to carry a book around. Other acts could be as simple as using a pencil and paper to balance the checkbook rather than a calculate. Challenge your mind everyday.
Besides playing games, it’s important to remember to train the brain to be happy. This may sound ridiculous or impossible but it works. By simply thinking positive, it’s possible to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Keeping yourself on a positive level can help the brain remain uplifted and help to avoid dwelling within negative thoughts. Try to find the silver lining in every activity. If you’re stuck in traffic, pull out that sudoku book and improve your mental wellness rather than sinking into negative thoughts.
Habit #3: Mental Stillness (Part 4 of 7)
“Perfection is not when there is no more to add, but no more to take away.” -Bruce Lee
Meditation can ease common stress from day to day, to help bring tranquility to those who practice mental stillness. Stress can make individuals tense or anxious and reduce effectiveness in the workplace or at home. It’s important to take the time to meditate when feeling worried or on edge. Meditation can restore a sense of calm to bring inner peace and help individuals become refreshed and ready for the day’s tasks. It’s important to remember that mediation can be practiced anywhere—in the waiting room, at the office, or in a park on a sunny day.
Meditation has been around for thousands of years and anyone can practice it. The practices originated from those who wanted to embrace in a deeper understanding of mystical and sacred forces. Today, common practices are meant for reducing stress and general relaxation. Consider mediation to be a form of medicine. By producing a deep state of tranquility, those who practice can better organize jumbled thoughts that may have been bottle-necking, or building-up in their mind. Meditation helps overall mental wellness to improve physical and emotional problems.
In an attempt to become calm and focused, users will find meditation is not only relaxing but a vehicle to help fight against serious issues like depression. It requires work to reach true silence and it’s important to understand this when trying to control a state of mind. According to an Oxford University survey, those with recurrent depression can benefit from mediation and modern cognitive behavior therapy. The results were published in the journal of Behavior Research and Therapy and known as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or MBCT.
In the study, twenty-eight people who suffered from depression (and even thoughts of suicide) were assigned into two groups. One group had been assigned to the MBCT in addition to the treatment while the other only received the basic treatment. The results concluded that the group receiving MBCT reduced major depression while the other group remained the same. The therapy included special mediation classes and taught the group how to understand their feelings that previously overwhelmed them.
For those new to mediation, there are several routes one can take in order to improve mental wellness. It can be difficult to find silence during hectic times. Try focusing on a sculpture, image or person from memory for a few minutes each day. Let the other thoughts wash away to alleviate stress. For those who have the time to be active, it’s said that jogging can help serve as a form of mediation. Any physical activity where repetition or form is vital may help relieve stress and bring about focus.
Habit #2: Fitness (Part 3 of 7)
The secret of getting ahead is getting started. -Mark Twain OR
Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. -Jim Ryan
Fitness isn’t about running marathons or competing in the Ironman Triathlon. It doesn’t have to be an up-at-dawn jog or midnight stir to chug a protein shake. It’s about making enough of the right decisions to feel better physically, emotionally and mentally. Fitness is a lifestyle. Eat the salad and skip the doughnut. Take the stairs and not the elevator. Make the time to make the right decisions to improve the body and the mind.
While most of the common research on fitness remains in the realm of physical benefits, Duke University is conducting research about mental benefits. According to the study, patients suffering from depression were asked to exercise thirty minutes at least three times per week. After four months, 60% of participants who exercised overcame depression without using medication. This equaled the number of patients who used the medicine but did not exercise.
Studies determined that short workouts of only eight minutes could not only improve physically fitness but actually lower sadness, tension and anger. According to Judith Easton, a personal trainer and meditation instructor at Galter Life Center in Chicago, explains an example of the body’s natural release of endorphins from physical activity: “Exercise leads to an increase in energy and to better sleeping patterns, which may also explain why it is so helpful to people with depression. Low energy and poor sleep are common symptoms of depression.”
According to The Harvard Crimson, practicing yoga is actually better for high school students than a basic physical education class. The study divided up Varsity-level students from a suburban Massachusetts high school into a yoga or a physical education class. The students completed a questionnaire at the beginning and the end of their semester to determine levels of resilience, stress, anxiety and anger. Apparently, the levels of the physical education class actually got worse while the yoga group maintained or improved. Yoga is one of the major exercises that truly gives stretching the time it deserves. It allows us to undo knots in muscles and feel more relaxed while smoothing aches and pains. A more relaxed physical body improves the mental state.
Physical fitness an obvious choice to make but is so often overlooked or postponed. The truth is, there is always time to get in shape. Doing jumping jacks in the office can get the blood moving and improve the day. Walk to the store rather than drive. Clean the house more often and kill two birds with one stone. Treat the body well to preserve the mind and work at bringing physical fitness into your lifestyle. Those Ironman competitors had to begin somewhere and it’s never too late to work for a better mind, body and soul.
Habit #1: Nutrition (Part 2 of 7) by Jacob Moore
This posting is the author’s personal archive originally published at NoStigmas.org. Please support this amazing organization and subscribe to the monthly newsletter.
“Don’t dig your grave with your own knife and fork.” –English Proverb
In order to step into a healthier lifestyle, there are several ways to begin. By taking a few steps at a time, it’s possible to build the proper foundation for a long and healthy life. Let’s look at some ideas for improving mental wellness through nutrition.
Quite simply, nutrition is meant to enhance health and provide growth. According to a book, Psychodietetics by Dr. Cheraskin, food and nutrition are directly connected to mental wellness. The book discusses issues of weight problems, addiction, depression and “unsociable behavior in both adults and children.” Imbalances, excesses and deficiencies in nutrition can possibly lead to diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis or even cardiovascular disease.
Part 1: Journey to Mental Wellness
It began with a ton-of-bricks feeling in my chest and shortness of breath. I became dizzy and started sweating. It felt like a heart attack. I suddenly realized that I was going to die right there in the middle of European History. But I was 16 and an athlete. How could this be? As you may have guessed, I didn’t have a heart attack and what I experienced was the first of many panic attacks. As they came with more frequency, I became paralyzed with fear. I couldn’t sleep at night. I would lose my appetite and then gorge when I was hungry. This downward spiral led to clinical depression. I missed so many days of school that I nearly was not allowed to graduate. After high school, I had trouble attending community college and holding down a job. Over the years to follow, my mind physically manifest the symptoms of everything from cancer to carbon monoxide poisoning to shellfish allergies. Medication only helped so much and sometimes made me feel worse. In therapy I began retracing my steps and discovered that my mental un-wellness wasn’t as sudden as it felt. I also began recognizing the roadblocks that were in my life. Some were hereditary and life obstacles, but others were my own doing. In all, I discovered 6 significant controllable factors that contributed to my mental state. With the help of family and friends, I gradually began peeling back the layers of these bad habits. It became a daily battle to overcome the roadblocks, but well worth every effort. I no longer take medication and maintain my mental wellness with the positive habits I’ve developed over the past ten years.
14 days, 5 flights, 4 cities and I’ve just arrived in LA.. with a killer cold. My new personal-trainer roomie, Geno quickly points me toward Lassens Natural Foods for a box of Counter Attack. He also recommends the Green Smoothie recipe from The Naked Foods Cookbook by M. Floyd and J. Barry. He’s just finished a twice-per-day 14-day run of the neon green stuff and looks/feels as healthy as an Okinawan. I’ve been looking for a good detox, so now seems like as good of time as any to start. When in California..