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mindful moment

You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.

Deep down in the human spirit, there is a reservoir of courage.

It is always available, always waiting to be discovered.

Just where you are; that’s the place to start.

-Pema Chödrön

mindful moment

The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness. Enough to eat, enough to go around. The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed. That’s about it.

Right now I’m living in that hope, running down its hallway and touching the walls on both sides.

-Barbara Kingsolver

melissa: organize it

Ever since becoming a therapist over a decade ago, I’ve found that concrete tasks are some of the most rewarding tasks one can do for instant gratification. Life, with all its complex twists and turns, often leaves a lot of things undone, slow to unfold, or in limbo. All these twists and turns and ups and downs can create and contribute to a sense of unease and anxiety.

What’s the anecdote to managing life’s complications and stressors? I’m not fully sure. But I know therapy helps, as does fostering connection to others, sleeping enough, moving our bodies…and the process of organizing, fixing, and completing tasks. Organizing a drawer? Very soothing.  Cleaning out a fridge? Unpleasant but gratifying. Getting your boxes from Amazon all broken down an actually into the recycle bin? Massive accomplishment. Shredding your shred pile? Also very rewarding. Power washing your sidewalk? Proud feelings ensue. You get the theme here, I’m sure, and likely also relate.

When you take a moment and pause, I’m sure you, too, can think of tasks that foster a sense of wellbeing, even if for a brief moment.  Psychologically, our brains like tasks that we can start and finish within a short time frame. It helps feel a sense of accomplishment, as well as a sense of control. There’s a wonderful article here about the benefits of concrete tasks and the fix it mindset for helping to support our mental health during difficult times. There’s also a book Things Come Apart that discusses, in part, this same concept. What will your fix it or organize task be today? Mine is taking all of my mugs from my desk to the dishwasher. What task will you conquer next? The world is your oyster.

Copyright ©Melissa A. Frey, LCSW 2021. All rights reserved. 

melissa: sleep during a pandemic

Many topics are seemingly fairly universal in therapy; for example, we often discuss stress management, communication styles and conflict, and balancing needs of others versus self. One topic that seems particularly top of mind during pandemic times is sleep. Never not tired, as many people report. Waking up “refreshed” can often seem like a thing of the past. Different types of sleep issues come up for different people, though some of the most common maladies are known as early, middle and/or late insomnia: difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or early waking and and having trouble falling back asleep. Given the fairly ongoing reports of sleep and fatigue challenges, sleep hygiene during a pandemic is pretty serious business. Common areas we explore are the usual suspects of caffeine, eating late, room temperatures, running to do list, screen time, etc. I also like to think through the not so usual suspects: did I think through one positive thing that happened today, an intention for tomorrow, gratitude for a small win, or plans for joy the next day? Often, reorganizing our thinking is one way to create a new sleep pattern.

Admittedly, I don’t think my watching Squid Game before bed is working in my favor, personally, but nonetheless, we can all strive to improve our sleep hygiene and hope for a refreshed start one of these days. What will be your new sleep strategy? Not sure? There are lots of suggestions here. Additiontally, there are mental health workout concepts and suggestions here. In the meantime, you’ll find me trying to watch Squid Game during the day…and reading a calming book before bed, instead..maybe.

Copyright ©Melissa A. Frey, LCSW 2021. All rights reserved. 

 

melissa: embracing change (or lack thereof)

As we find ourselves moving into another season, we are looking at how to embrace change…or rather, I suppose, how to embrace a lack of change. We had a summer that gave us an ever so slight reprieve from the pandemic, and we now find ourselves struggling to “go backwards.”

One concept that seems to be keeping us semi-grounded is focusing on sitting in the muck of life. In others words, we embrace the way things are versus the way we wish they were. We often find ourselves hearing questions such as, ‘does this means I’m settling?’ ‘does this mean I’m complacent?’ ‘does this mean I’ve accepted things will never improve?’ The answer to all of those questions is very much a resounding, “no!”

Embracing things as they are is referred to, in the therapy world, as ‘radical acceptance,’ or just generally, ‘acceptance.’ Much of therapy is learning how to improve our lives, our ability to cope, and/or problem solve. There’s also a lot of learning in therapy around how to best live in a state of contentment, which is partially achieved through learning acceptance, or radical acceptance. The concept sounds so simple, yet takes practice to learn to cultivate a mind that accepts the present moment, while also focusing on what can be done to work within our current circumstances and stressors. Often, there are ways in which we can DO something to improve our lives. Other times, for example during a pandemic, we have limitations to what we can do. There is always a path towards more contentment in our lives, just different ways in which we may get there.

It appears for 2020 and 2021, we are taking the (very) long way home.

Copyright ©Melissa A. Frey, LCSW 2021. All rights reserved. 

Want to learn more about this concept? Acceptance and Commitment Therapy teaches us about acceptance and how to find contentment and peace in the it. There’s a wonderful Wall Street Journal piece here.

 

 

melissa: how to mindfully take a stroll

If you’ve got ten minutes sometime, I highly recommend you consider taking a mindful walk. Typically when walking, or even driving, we wind up somewhere without much knowledge of how we got there. Or, perhaps there are a lot of wonderful things along the road or path that we may have missed. If you want to get step by step instructions, you can click here. Mindful walks, particularly in nature, can be very restorative and remind us of a sense of connection to the physical and natural world around us.

The general flow of a mindful walk is:

Movement- focus on your steps, the movement of your legs and arms, and feeling your feet on the ground

Sound- noticing the sound of animals, birds, cicadas, cars, people, buses, etc

Smell- noticing the smell of the earth or city around you

Vision- noticing what you see around you as trees move, wind blows leaves, the ground and its texture

Finish up by focusing once again on your movement and feeling your feet on the ground

More details and instructions are here: A Daily Mindful Walking Practice

Wishing you a peaceful walk

Copyright ©Melissa A. Frey, LCSW 2021. All rights reserved.