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The Healing Power of Creation

CreativityExploring the Role of Creativity in Mental Health

Creativity is a force that permeates every aspect of human existence, shaping the way we express ourselves, solve problems, and navigate the world around us. Beyond its artistic manifestations, creativity holds profound implications for mental health, serving as a transformative tool for healing and self-discovery. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the symbiotic relationship between creativity and mental well-being, uncovering how engaging in creative pursuits can nurture our minds and souls.

Expressive Outlet

Creativity provides a channel for self-expression, allowing individuals to articulate complex emotions, thoughts, and experiences that may be difficult to convey through words alone. Whether it’s painting, writing, music, or dance, creative expression offers a safe space for exploring and processing inner turmoil.

Cathartic Release

Engaging in creative activities can be cathartic, providing a release valve for pent-up emotions and stress. Through the act of creation, individuals can externalize their struggles, finding solace and relief in the process.

Empowerment and Agency

Creativity empowers individuals to reclaim agency over their lives, fostering a sense of autonomy and self-efficacy. The act of creating something new, whether it’s a piece of art, a poem, or a musical composition, instills a sense of accomplishment and mastery that can bolster self-esteem and resilience.

Mindfulness and Presence

Creative endeavors often require a deep level of focus and concentration, encouraging individuals to be fully present in the moment. This mindful engagement can serve as a form of meditation, quieting the noise of the mind and promoting mental clarity and relaxation.

Fostering Joy and Fulfillment

Creativity brings joy and fulfillment into our lives, offering moments of beauty, inspiration, and wonder. Whether it’s the satisfaction of completing a project or the sheer delight of exploring one’s imagination, creative pursuits have the power to uplift the spirit and nourish the soul.

Connecting with Others

Creativity serves as a bridge that connects individuals across cultures, languages, and backgrounds. Whether through collaborative art projects, community performances, or online creative communities, creative expression fosters connections and a sense of belonging that can combat feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Cultivating Resilience

Engaging in creative activities cultivates resilience by fostering adaptability, resourcefulness, and problem-solving skills. Creativity encourages individuals to embrace experimentation and embrace failure as an inherent part of the creative process, teaching valuable lessons in perseverance and resilience.

Transforming Pain into Beauty

Creativity has the remarkable ability to transform pain and adversity into sources of beauty and meaning. Through the alchemy of artistic expression, individuals can transmute their suffering into art that inspires, provoke, and resonate with others.

Creativity offers a beacon of hope and resilience in a world that often feels chaotic and uncertain. By embracing our innate creative potential, we can harness the healing power of creation to navigate life’s challenges, cultivate inner strength, and nourish our mental and emotional well-being. Whether through painting, writing, music, or any other form of creative expression, let us embrace the transformative journey of self-discovery and healing that creativity affords.

Related articles

How Making Art Helps Improve Mental Health | Science| Smithsonian Magazine

Quick Thinking

Quick Thinking

By Jonathan Venn, Ph.D.

Our society values quick thinking.  We value the person who can “think on their feet” and respond quickly to people and situations.  This ability is valued so highly in our society that we are likely to feel pressured and respond quickly even when it is not in our best interest to do so.  There are times when it would be better to stop, think things over, and take all the time we need to arrive at the right conclusion.  Indeed, we may be so afraid of how we look to others – afraid of looking ineffective and “slow-witted” — that we respond quickly even though we may be making the wrong decision.  There are times when it would be better to say, “I need some time to think about that,” and then take all the time you need.

Manipulative people take advantage of the social expectation to think quickly.  They create situations where people feel forced to make bad decisions.  Later, when you tell them that you regret your decision, they can say, “But you agreed to it!” as if you were the only participant and their involvement in the situation did not matter.  They thereby attempt to relieve themselves of their own responsibility for the situation.

The next time you feel pressured to make a fast decision, please take the time to stop and think.  Please allow yourself all the time you need to think things over and make the right decision.

Embracing Mental Wellness in the New Year

Self Reflection

Embracing Mental Wellness in the New Year
A Journey Towards a Healthier Mind

As we bid farewell to the old and welcome the new, the dawn of a fresh year often brings with it a wave of hope and optimism. Many of us set resolutions aimed at improving our physical health, career, or personal relationships. However, one aspect that deserves equal attention, if not more, is our mental health. In the pursuit of holistic well-being, let’s explore the significance of mental health in the context of the new year.

Reflection on the Past

Before embarking on a journey toward better mental health, it’s essential to reflect on the past. Consider the challenges and triumphs of the previous year, acknowledging the emotions that accompanied them. Reflecting on the past allows us to identify patterns, gain insights, and lay the groundwork for positive change. Be kind to yourself for those times you may have wanted to do things differently or “better”. What would you have done differently in those instances? We are always learning from ourselves, and with each new day are allowed to make the changes we feel are necessary, while keeping in mind that we will make mistakes and that is okay. Also, acknowledge those accomplishments you made in the past year.

Setting Realistic Goals

While setting goals is a common practice for the new year, it’s crucial to prioritize realistic and achievable objectives when it comes to mental health. Rather than focusing solely on external achievements, consider incorporating self-care practices, mindfulness, and stress-management techniques into your daily routine. Setting small, attainable goals can contribute significantly to mental well-being.

Prioritizing Self-Care

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, self-care often takes a backseat. However, the new year presents an opportunity to prioritize self-care and make it an integral part of our routines. Whether it’s carving out time for hobbies, meditation, exercise, or simply taking moments of solitude, investing in self-care is a powerful way to nurture mental health.

Building Support Systems

No journey towards improved mental health is complete without the support of others. Strengthening your support system can involve reaching out to friends, family, or mental health professionals. Cultivating open and honest communication about your feelings and experiences fosters a sense of connection and understanding.

Embracing Mindfulness

Mindfulness, the practice of being fully present in the moment without judgment, has been shown to have profound effects on mental well-being. Consider incorporating mindfulness exercises, such as meditation or deep breathing, into your daily routine. These practices can help manage stress and anxiety, and promote a sense of inner peace.

Breaking the Stigma

In the pursuit of mental wellness, it’s crucial to challenge and break the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Open conversations about mental well-being create a supportive environment and encourage others to seek help when needed. Let the new year be a time to foster empathy, understanding, and acceptance.

Conclusion

As we step into the new year, let’s prioritize our mental health alongside other aspects of our lives. Embracing a holistic approach to well-being, incorporating self-care practices, building a strong support system, and breaking the stigma surrounding mental health can pave the way for a healthier, more fulfilling life. We cannot change those around us but can change OUR attitudes and mindsets. May this year be a journey towards a balanced mind, fostering resilience, and embracing the beauty of our mental well-being.

Caring for Yourself in the New Year | Psychology Today

Nurturing the soul

 

Self loveNurturing the Soul
The Transformative Power of
Self-Care on Mental Health

In our fast-paced, modern world, where the demands of daily life can feel overwhelming, taking the time for self-care is more crucial than ever. The concept of self-care extends beyond simple indulgences; it is a fundamental practice that contributes significantly to our mental health and overall well-being. In this blog post, we will explore the profound effects of self-care on mental health and why prioritizing oneself is not just a luxury but a necessity.

Self-care involves intentional actions and practices that promote physical, emotional, and mental well-being. It is a holistic approach to maintaining balance in our lives and nurturing a positive relationship with ourselves. This can encompass a wide range of activities, from basic hygiene and adequate sleep to engaging in activities that bring joy, relaxation, and fulfillment.

The Mental Health Connection

  1. Stress Reduction: Engaging in self-care activities helps to alleviate stress, a common precursor to mental health challenges. Whether it’s taking a leisurely walk, practicing mindfulness through meditation, or enjoying a hobby, these activities trigger the relaxation response, reducing the impact of stress on our minds and bodies
  2. Improved Emotional Regulation: Regular self-care fosters emotional resilience. When we take the time to understand and address our emotions, we can respond more effectively to life’s challenges. This emotional intelligence is a key factor in maintaining good mental health and building positive relationships with others.
  3. Enhanced Self-Esteem: Investing in self-care sends a powerful message to ourselves — that we are worthy of love and attention. This positive affirmation contributes to improved self-esteem and a healthier self-image. When we prioritize our well-being, we are more likely to approach life with confidence and a sense of purpose.
  4. Prevention of Burnout: Neglecting self-care can lead to burnout, a state of physical and emotional exhaustion. By incorporating regular self-care practices into our routines, we can prevent burnout and maintain a sustainable level of energy and motivation.

Practical Self-Care Tips

  1. Establishing a Routine: Create a daily routine that includes dedicated time for self-care activities. This can be as simple as setting aside a few minutes each morning for deep breathing exercises or creating a bedtime ritual to unwind and relax.
  2. Setting Boundaries: Learn to say no when necessary and establish boundaries to protect your time and energy. Recognize that it’s okay to prioritize your needs and well-being.
  3. Mindful Practices: Incorporate mindfulness into your daily life. This could include meditation, yoga, or simply taking moments throughout the day to breathe deeply and be present in the current moment.
  4. Physical Activity: Regular exercise is not only beneficial for physical health but also plays a significant role in mental well-being. Find an activity you enjoy, whether it’s walking, dancing, or practicing a sport, and make it a regular part of your routine.

In a world that often glorifies busyness, it’s essential to remember that self-care is not selfish; it’s a vital investment in our mental health. By prioritizing self-care, we can build resilience, cultivate a positive mindset, and navigate life’s challenges with grace. As we nurture our bodies and minds, we pave the way for a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life. Remember, self-care is not a luxury; it’s a necessity on the journey to holistic well-being.

A great article on self-care from Very Well Mind

By Betsey Raya

 

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

What is Cognitive behavioral therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a directive therapy, which means the therapist leads the process, teaching patients how to develop effective ways of coping with a range of problems, including depression, anxiety, and panic disorders. “Cognitive behavioral therapy is based on the idea that the person is having difficulties because of faulty thinking and behaviors,” says Burton Hutto, a psychiatrist and director of the Crisis Stabilization Inpatient Unit at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, School of Medicine.

These “cognitive errors” or distorted thinking often manifest in self-criticism or guilt. “You may catastrophize situations, tending to imagine the worst or overestimate the likelihood of something bad happening,” says Lynn Bufka, associate executive director for practice research and policy at the American Psychological Association (APA). “For example, you might think, ‘It’s all my fault,’ or ‘I never do anything right.’”

How CBT works

CBT, Hutto says, helps you identify and change those negative thought patterns and behaviors that are wreaking havoc on your well-being. “You try to get a more realistic view of what’s going on,” Bufka says. “Someone who is really anxious about the coronavirus might be convinced that they’re going to get it and are going to die. That’s a possibility, but it’s not necessarily true.” CBT also helps you recognize and accept events that are beyond your control.

The therapy is structured and focused: You set a plan with the therapist at the beginning of the session. “Because there’s an agenda on what you’re going to accomplish, it’s a shorter-term therapy that typically doesn’t last much more than six months,” Hutto says. Patients learn coping techniques during sessions, such as learning practical, more productive ways to respond to distressing or anxiety-provoking situations or feelings (deep breathing exercises, for example). “There’s also homework,” Hutto says. “For example, keeping track of thoughts, feelings, and situations, then discussing them in the following therapy session.”

By 

Barbara Stepko, AARP

Published May 02, 2022

Read the whole article here
A Guide to Finding the Right Mental Health Therapist (aarp.org)

Living Authentically

Living authentically

What Living Authentically Means

  • Identifying and expressing genuine feelings.
  • Facing our fear and having the courage to move through the fear to a deeper truth and power.
  • Risking having real conversations.
  • Welcoming every opportunity to increase the awareness of self and one’s effect on others.
  • Trusting the world is abundant with gifts and then expressing gratitude for these gifts regularly.
  • Acting from a deep sense of purpose and meaning that generates impeccable integrity.
  • Evolving and being willing to intimately express who we are and what we believe. This is our essence in action.

 

Credit: Authentic Leadership Center, 2013

How to Live An Authentic Life: 6 Tips | Psych Central

Tapping

Emotional Freedom Technique

”Tapping”, an alternative approach to managing anxiety,
stress, mood & more.
Jason Markel
Associate Marriage & Family Therapist
Authentic Counseling Associates

What is the Emotional Freedom Technique (Tapping)?

EFT or Tapping is an alternative treatment for emotional
and/or physical distress.

Tapping is a brief intervention combining elements of
exposure therapy, cognitive therapy, and somatic
stimulation of acupressure points on the head, face and
body.

Tapping purports to access Meridian lines (energy lines)
to soothe and regulate physical and emotional distress.

How does Tapping work?

Tapping is done in a circuit. It is generally repeated
at least three times and when guided, scaling of
symptoms are monitored.

The subject will “tap” on various points along the
head, face, and upper body while combining
acknowledgment of emotion and a positive
affirmation with deep breathing.

Tapping Technique from Authentic Counseling
Diagram of points on the body to tap

Brief History of EFT

1962 – Dr. George Goodheart, DC began studying Acupuncture
and developed a technique he called “Applied Kinesiology”.

1970’s – Dr. John Diamond, an Australian Psychiatrist built upon this by developing “Behavioral Kinesiology” adding affirmations to treat emotional problems.

1980’s – Dr. Roger Callahan, an American Psychologist studied the
The meridian system of Acupuncture furthered this approach
calling it Thought Field Therapy.

1990’s – Gary Craig, an enthusiastic student of Dr. Callahan began
marketing his own version, calling it EFT, to the general public

EFT Uses & Controversy

EFT is used by medical, psychological, and alternative health
practitioners to treat a variety of issues such as Anxiety, Phobias,
Depression and PTSD.

Proponents of EFT claim that EFT is widely studied and evidence-based.

Opponents of EFT claim it is pseudoscience and essentially
“quackery”.

During the course of preparing this presentation, it appeared that
some of the research that is often presented as evidence in favor of
EFT had repeating authors’ names and potential conflicts of interest.

My (Limited) Clinical Experience

I have seen EFT used with clients who have severe PTSD from the
2018 Camp Fire in Paradise, CA with successful outcomes.

Every time I have used EFT with a client it has produced results with
at least mild improvement.

As someone who practices “energy work”, I can’t claim to be
completely impartial, but whatever the reasoning for positive
outcomes – I find EFT to be a beneficial tool.

A Chaplain Speaks

Tapping to release emotional & physical stress

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vsnr2t7_-Bg

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6381429/

What is EFT Tapping, and Can It Calm the ADHD Brain?

https://www.army.mil/article/45727/tapping_method_eases_stress_in_many

https://grainnemoneill.com/emotional-freedom-technique-history/

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2515690X18823691

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/WendyComeau/publication/264552493_Assessment_of_the_Emotional_Freedom_T

See the Full PDF Presentation here

Poem

Father and Son

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Father At My Table
By Dr. Christopher Mathe

(8-10-98 to my father)

I’ve fought so long

            So hard to deny

With angry, righteous cries

            Your place at my table.

Your pain walled away

            But alive and leaking

Through so many cracks

            To form the dark parts of me.

All you were, I cannot be.

            I’m so much more aware, alive

I do so much more than survive

            I long to turn toward the light and reject all you are.

I could not imagine you

            Hurting and alone

A child holding off the terror.

            Carrying your father’s wound.

            As I carry yours

When I look closely

            At the parts unseen

You child peeks back.

While your wound is not mine

            I can accept your humanness

And your presence that helped

            Shape the man I’ve become.

Come, break your fast

            At my table.

I have more to learn

            More tears to cry.

You are welcome,

My father.

I pray I will be welcome

            At my son’s table some day.

Change

Thoughts on Change

Thoughts on Change

Quotes and reflections by Chris Mathe, PhD

There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
~ Anais Nin

To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.
~ Henri Bergson

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
~ James A. Baldwin

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.
~ Anatole France

A person needs at intervals to separate from family and companions and go to new places. One must go without familiars in order to be open to influences, to change.
~ Katharine Butler Hathaway

You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters are continually flowing in.
~ Heraclitus

The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.
~ Charles DuBois

We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.
~ Anais Nin

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
~ Mohandas Gandhi
brainyquote.com

Change is a continuous process of widening our perspectives and allowing more possibilities into our lives. Yes, it’s inevitable and everything is constantly changing, but we can choose to ride this wave with wonder and abundance or with fear and grasping. The choices we make determine how much joy and pain we feel in the process.

Why embracing change is the key to a good life – BBC Culture
What Makes Change Difficult? | Psychology Today

Diet

 

Diet is so importantDiet is so important in the all-around functioning and health of our bodies. They are linking diet with more and more ailments and find that changing our eating habits to eat cleaner and eating the recommended portion sizes can change our health around and aid in combating various diseases and problems.

by Dr. Chris Mathe

Making small changes in what we eat can make a big difference in our physical, mental, and emotional health.

Diet

  • Food basics
  • Where to start?
  • Tracking and goals
  • Staying motivated

Diet – Food Basics

  • We truly are what we eat. Health is what we are after.
  • What we know:
  • The benefits of changes accrue immediately.

Diet – Where to Start?

  • Our goal is to change our relationship with food – Not find the next fad diet.
  • Making small, incremental changes leads to a habit that will last the rest of our lives.
  • Talk with a doctor or nutritionist. Identify areas in your diet that have the most room for increased health.
  • Any sustained movement along the lines of “what we know” will make a difference in our health.
  • Start small and incrementally. Use the tools in the next two sections.

Diet – Tracking and Goals

Diet – Staying Motivated

  • Make it routine; Think in terms of “The Zone.”
  • Get a buddy or buddies.
  • Join a support group.
  • Track it! Plan it!
  • Establish goals.
  • Know your “why.”

Summary

  • The effects start today
  • Start small
  • Make it a practice
  • Work on self-compassion