Tag Archives: wellness

Mental Health Series Pt. II: Counseling.

Seeing a counselor can be a great way to move forward if you are struggling in some way. There is often a stigma about going to counseling, as if counseling is something only reserved for “crazy” people. The truth is, we all need help sometimes. Proverbs 11:14 evens tells us “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Think about it: would you make a huge life decision without talking to someone first? Do you talk to friends or elders when you need another perspective? 

A counselor is an objective, outside person. Counselors do work with people battling severe mental illnesses, but they also work with ordinary people trying to make their way through life. Counselors can help you dig deep inside of yourself to discover where lies and pain came in, and figure out how to put the broken pieces back together. They can walk with you as go through any kind of past or present trauma, grief, tragedy, or unexpected life situation. A solid counselor can help you pinpoint where certain behaviors or feelings are coming from (anger, overeating, excessive drinking, etc.) and move forward into more healthy ways of behaving and relating. They can help if you are struggling with depression or anxiety or map out a plan for healthy ways to manage stress.

When you meet with a counselor, you will set goals for yourself. Your counselor will check in with you occasionally about how you are doing on your goals and if there is any way he/she can assist you in meeting them. In this way, you could even think of your counselor as accountability partner as you seek stronger mental health and a better life!

About 80% of people who attend counseling have found benefits in doing so.

A few possible benefits you may find from counseling:

  • Increased insight about self and relationships
  • Stronger relationships
  • Increased confidence
  • Increased hope and positive outlook
  • Lessened feelings of anxiety

I want to tell you to be careful of whom you go to, if you are seeking counseling. There are people who have entered therapy and come out in bad shape due to faulty counseling or incompetent counselors. Also, I encourage Christian counseling! A Christian counselor will look at God’s word and the truth that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. They will not forget the spiritual component of you. Find a counselor you are comfortable with and who you feel actually listens to and hears you. The process is not always easy–it forces you to confront truths about yourself and your past (or present) that may not be pretty. Yet the goal is for healing and wholeness. Counseling holds benefits for many types of people! There is no shame in seeing a counselor if you are struggling with your thought patterns or difficult situations in life, past or present!

Have you gone to counseling and found benefits in dong so? Do you have any questions about counseling?

 Next up: faith and mental health!

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Physical Wellness-Part III

Welcome to Part III of the Wellness series, Physical Wellness! This is the last part of the series. You can read Part I-Spiritual Wellness here, and Part II-Emotional Wellness here.

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Our bodies are integral to who we are. People do not see our soul; they see our physical self! The state of our bodies affects our emotional state. For example, if you are feeling ill physically, you often feel down mentally. If you are taking good care of your body (and not struggling with some sort of health issue), you are going to feel great physically & mentally!

Our bodies are a temple of God, as we are told in 1 Corinthians (chapter 6, verse 19). I would even go so far as to say that the way that we take care of our bodies can reflect our relationship with God. In Mark (chapter 12, verse 31), we are told to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we are taking care of ourselves physically and otherwise, we honor God by honoring His gift of life!

Again, some of these tips may seem basic–but it’s when we lose track of the basics when things start to go awry. Get back to the basics and you’ll be on the right track!

1. Eat a healthy diet. Eat lots of fruits and veggies–a rainbow of colors! Different colors of fruits and veggies contain different vitamins and minerals. Whenever possible, eat organic. Certain conventional fruits and vegetables contain more pesticides and should be eaten organic. The “dirty dozen” refers to produce that should be eaten organic, while the “clean fifteen” is produce that is usually safe to eat conventional. A list can be found here. Don’t forget about protein to keep you energized! Eggs are a great source of protein, as well as beans, nuts, meat, and fish! (Going along with this tip, stay hydrated! Dehydration can be very dangerous.)

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2. Get enough sleep. I focused on this in emotional wellness, but of course it’s very important here as well! If your body isn’t given time to recharge, you will suffer. You’ll be less productive and possibly even irritable. Lack of sleep can even lower immune function, making it more likely that you’ll get sick. Over the long-term, lack of sleep can also increase your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. Yes, sleep is more important than you realize! Shoot for 7-9 hours a night.

3. Exercise. Nowadays, many people live sedentary lifestyles. That makes getting exercise more of necessity than ever. Does exercise seem like a chore? Discover what you like. Do you prefer a high-intensity workout? Do you enjoy pilates? Or are you more of a zumba person? Walking, running, swimming, skating, basketball, football, ultimate frisbee, or whatever sport you like…It’s up to you. According to Mayo Clinic, exercise can help prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even depression. It’s beneficial physically and emotionally.

4. Pray! Of course, I’m going to put in a plug for prayer. Prayer is soothing and can help lower blood pressure and possibly even strengthen the immune system, according to this article. You can even go on a “prayer walk” or a rosary walk and combine #3 & #4!

5. Eat probiotic foods or take a probiotic supplement. Your gut contains “good” and “bad” bacteria. The “good” bacteria aids in digestion and nutrient absorption. An imbalance of “good” and “bad” gut flora can also contribute to other problems, such as your risk of cancer. Especially if you have taken antibiotics, the “good” bacteria get killed off. You can help to replenish them by eating probiotic foods (such as yogurt, kefir, saurkraut, and others) or taking a supplement. Here are some benefits of probiotic use.

6. Be careful what you put on your body and use for everyday tasks. Cancer-causing chemicals have been found in soaps and shampoos, as well as other personal care products such as perfumes. Most cleaning products contain chemicals, so opt for more natural cleaners. Use a BPA-free water bottle. Research is still being done about BPA and its risks, but some risks that have come to be shown are brain and behavior problems, as well as a later risk of cancer. The things we put on our bodies every day do affect our physical well-being, and have a cumulative effect, so it’s important to be aware of the things you’re using on your body or around the house.

Is there anything else you would add to this list? Are there any other tips that are essential to physical health?

Thank you for reading the Wellness Series! I am excited to write even more about these topics in the future and help you to achieve better physical and emotional health, as well as a closer walk with God!

Emotional/Mental Wellness-Part II

Welcome to Emotional/Mental Wellness-Part II of the Wellness series! (Part I-Spiritual Wellness-can be found here.) Though some of these tips may seem basic, often we stray from the basics. Sometimes it’s a simple reason why we’re feeling “off” and unbalanced–and often it has to do with losing track of the basics! I hope that you’ll be able to find some help in this post!

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1. Pray. Pour your heart out to God! God will lead you to truth and wholeness. In God, you will find joy. That doesn’t mean you will be happy all the time–but joy means security in God, no matter what! The sacrament of Reconciliation can also help us stay well emotionally–we get the darkness out of us and find forgiveness! There is so much healing and life to be found in that. We don’t realize how much our sin unconsciously affects us and our well-being.

2. Find social support. At work or in other situations, we can encounter people who bring negativity. Life can be stressful anyway. Tragedy and hard times hit us. Surround yourself with positive people who inspire you. Make time to connect with those people and groups that keep you real. Make friends with honest, loyal people that you can count on in good times and bad. Confide in family and friends that will encourage you, even when you’re in your darkest hour.

3. Don’t fill your plate too much. I’m not talking food here. I’m talking about life balance. Keep your priorities straight and stay focused on them. This will cut down on unnecessary stress. This will help you to be calm(er) and to savor the life you are living. It’s difficult to do the best we can if we are spread between 100 things. If you focus on the most important things, you’ll excel.

4. Fill your body with nourishment.  Many people don’t realize that the foods they ingest can affect their moods! Stay away from refined sugars and heavily processed foods. Make sure that you’re getting healthy fats–such as avocados–in your diet. Vitamin D also affects mood. The most common source of Vitamin D is fish–this page contains a list of Vitamin D-rich foods. Another help for mood or anxiety is essential oils. I love to use Lavender for its calming affects, and not to mention it has a great scent!

5. Get enough rest. This is another arena of our life which can affect your mood. Not only can sleep affect your mood, it will also affect the quality of your work. Are you a person who doesn’t sleep because you feel there’s too much to do? Consider this: if you let your body recharge each night, your productivity will show this. On the other hand, insufficient sleep will catch up to you and the quality of your work will suffer.  The amount of sleep you get can also affect your relationships with others. If you’re crabby because you’ve been cutting out sleep, it won’t be a positive influence on your relationships.

Next up: physical wellness! As you can see, often these tips will affect other parts of your life; that’s because each part of our being is connected and goes with the other! Do you have any other tips or necessities in your life for staying emotionally balanced?

Spiritual Wellness-Part I

Welcome to Part I of the Wellness Series! Today we will be focusing on the spiritual side of ourselves. Of course, though we cannot see our soul, it very much affects who we are–including our actions and what we think and believe. As I stated in the introductory post, each aspect of our beings affects the other aspects. (As I am a Catholic Christian, this post will come from that perspective. I hope that, wherever you are on your journey, you can find something that resonates with you.)

P1000266Our soul is the only part of us that will live forever. It’s amazing to think that a part of us is immortal! The choices we make today, in these mortal bodies of ours, affect our eternal futures.

There are a million things I could write, a million ways in which we can pray and grow closer to God. Obviously, I’m only a simple lay person, like the majority of humans. However, I do know that these are some avenues that all of us have access to (although some of our brothers and sisters around the world struggle to access the Sacraments because of persecution or lack of nearby churches–pray for them!).

1. Receive the Sacraments. God, being our Creator, knows that we are bodily people. The Sacraments are concrete ways we can experience God through our senses. God is so good that He wants us to be able to experience these things with our whole selves, in ways we can relate to! Think about Holy Water, the Eucharist, the awing beauty of a cathedral, the loving gaze of your new spouse as you exchange vows on the altar, or hearing the kind voice of the priest on the other side of the confessional. These are just a few examples of the experiences that come with receiving the Sacraments. Of course, attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is the way to start. What about adding another day each week to attend Mass? Don’t forget about the Sacrament of Reconciliation! The priests have heard it all–so don’t be afraid! Christ is healing you of your sins, forgiving you, through the priest! Pretty amazing, to have your sins wiped away and have a clean slate again. We don’t realize how much our sins pile up–much like a messy room. “It’s just a pair of socks,” a person shrugs as the socks are discarded onto the floor. Later, they will be astonished as “just one pair of socks” has also turned into a pair of pants, a shirt, a belt, papers, and anything else one can think of. Confession cleans out the dirty room and makes space for you to welcome Jesus!

2. Do the Examen. St. Ignatius of Loyola came up with this simple prayer. It allows you to reflect on your day and ways in which God was present. It is great for discernment, especially in finding patterns. It can also be a great examination of conscience and help you to realize areas of strength and weakness in your spiritual life. If you would like to learn more about the Examen, go here.

3.  Pray the Rosary. Many people love the Rosary; many others struggle with praying it. One thing can’t be denied: it is a powerful prayer. (To my Protestant brothers and sisters: Catholics are not worshipping Mary when we pray the Rosary. We are looking at the life of Jesus through the eyes of His mother, the one who loved Him so dearly and was closest to Him during His earthly life.) If you struggle with praying the Rosary, this blogger also has a hard time, but has some good reasons to keep on prayin’ it anyway.

4. Serve others.  “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) Christ also reminds us that, when we do an act of service for another person, we are doing it for Him! There are so many needs in the world, including in your own home or neighborhood. Perhaps someone that you live with needs some extra attention, or there is an elderly neighbor you could share conversation with. There are numerous places looking for volunteers, including soup kitchens, crisis pregnancy centers, or nursing homes. There are also many needs worldwide, which you could contribute to financially or by going on a short or long-term mission trip. Ask God where He is calling you to be His hands and feet today.

5. Talk to God, always. Just as with our family members and friends, we must be in conversation with God in order to build a closer relationship. “Pray without ceasing; in everything, give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess 5:17-18) Giving thanks to God is so important. Yet we must also be honest with Him and learn to confide in Him our deepest thoughts and needs, and the needs of the ones we love and the world as a whole. We can talk to Him silently throughout our day, in the car, while washing dishes, and when we need to speak a word of truth to another person. These are just a few examples. God is never far from us.

I hope that you can hold onto these tips and find a closer, stronger relationship with God! One huge aspect of wellness is your relationship with God–which affects your mental/emotional health, can affect physical health, and even your relationships with others!

Next up: mental/emotional wellness! (Here is the introductory post to the wellness series.)

Why Wellness?

I am a huge advocate of wellness.  Why is it so important, you may ask? Perhaps you are even wondering what exactly wellness is. Well, God made us bodies. Within the body is a mind. Most importantly, we contain a soul. All of these facets work together to make us who we are. Each aspect of our self affects the other. For example, if your physical health is off, your mind will be affected also. Wellness is the integration of all these facets of ourselves in a positive way. Living a life of wellness equals living a balanced life.

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Look for a 3-part series coming about spiritual, mental/emotional, and physical wellness! I hope that you will benefit from the series and find even more sustenance on your journey to living a life of wellness!