What is Mental Health? 

Mental health is your overall psychological and emotional well-being. Your ability to feel nurture yourself, learn had agency in your contributions to your community (at home and at work) and maintain fulfilling relationships with yourself and others. Your ability to adapt to change developing strategies to process, regulate, express and move through difficult emotions, thoughts and circumstances in life without getting stuck in them.

One and five will experience a mental illness in their lifetime (we all face challenges in life that can impact our mental health).

What tools can everyone use to improve their mental health and increase resiliency?

Recognize your feelings as alarm clocks to what is happening to your needs and take the time to identify what you’re feeling.

Ask yourself better questions – how am I feeling right now?

How do I want to feel? What do I need to do to help myself get there? What inspires me? 

It can help you to better cope with challenging situations, meet your unmet needs and cherished circumstances that enhance your overall well-being.

Practice gratitude – what do you appreciate most in your life right now?

 

Common struggles and coping strategies

  • Stay aware of your body and its reaction to stress (where do you hold stress? Is your heart beating fast? Are your chest/shoulders feeling tense? What is your self talk? Are you reacting sharply to yourself and others)?
  • Reduce stress parentheses (identify your stressors if possible – if not put space between yourself and your stressors if possible if not refer to tools)
  • Pause! Reset! (taking a break)
  • Take care of yourself (hygiene & nutrition)
  • Find tools that work to reduce your stress (breathing techniques meditation light exercise hobbies connecting in community)
  • Stay in engage tune and find your voice establish personal space

Facts

The English language has over 3000 words for emotions.

People who can specify their emotions are less likely to suffer from addiction and engage in violence to the self or others.

School age children that discuss emotion for 20-30 minutes per week have improvement with their interpersonal relationships grades and leadership skills.

 

Tips for success

Allow yourself to feel

Not ignoring how you’re feeling

Identify your safe spaces with others and talk it out!

Building up your emotional vocabulary, getting curious – ask questions to help recognize, label, understand, express and regulate feelings in yourself and others developing your core needs literacy – do you need more time to yourself? In community? With a close friend? An hour to rest after work?

 

Journaling

Considering the strength of your feelings

Seeing a mental health professional – it’s OK to need help!

 

LET’S TALK SELF COMPASSION

 

Compassion vs. Self Compassion

What is compassion?

It has layers!

  1. I don’t want others to be suffering.
  2. Why are you suffering?
  3. There is nothing in you that I do not recognize in me.
  4. Truth–I allow you to express your pain without having to run from it.
  5. Possibility for growth–it can be hard to see past verbal/body language, behavioral patterns, and tendency to judge. The Self is underneath all of this.

So…then who is the Self?

You! Your authentic being that trauma and difficult circumstances have disconnected you from. 

 

What is self compassion?

Self compassion is the ability to direct this same curiosity and these actions within, particularly while experiencing difficult emotions.

It is learning to comfort yourself as you would a loved one, after all…you need your love too!

 

  1. Self-Kindness rather than Self-Judgment
  2. Common Humanity rather than Isolation
  3. Mindfulness rather than Over-identification

***Do not get self-esteem confused with self-compassion, self esteem focuses on favorable self-evaluation, particularly for achievements.**

 

The lack of compassion for self can play a role in mental health conditions.

  • After a traumatic or troubling experience, people can find self-compassion to be difficult as we are often our harshest critics.
  • Self judgment can lead to anxiety, insecurity or depression
  • Self compassion can allow people to accept their failures, move through them & try again
  • High levels of self-compassion can have a positive impact on recovery from post traumatic stress.

Have You Ever Heard Of?

Compassion fatigue or caregiver burnout?

This can occur when providing extensive care to others when they do not have the same compassion for themselves. Those who have as much compassion for themselves as for others are generally able to remain in touch with their own needs & maintain physical & mental well-being, and prioritize their own self-care.

Did You Know?

  • Sometimes people get compassion and pity mixed up. They are different–you are getting real about how you are feeling, not feeling pity for feeling iffy!
  • Studies show that women in the U.S show slightly less compassion to themselves than men do.
  • Women are often societally assigned the role of caregiver with gender norms emphasizing nurturing, self-sacrificing acts.
  • Self-compassion fills, self-sacrifice, avoidance and pity deplete!
  • Men are often socialized to disregard their feelings, suppress and disconnect from them.

Credit Kristin Neff @ www.self-compassion.org

 

5 Ways to Practice Self-Compassion:

Step 1: Practice Forgiveness

  • Recognize that mistakes are part of being human
  • Be gentle with yourself
  • Be aware of times when you derive a sense of self-worth from performance
  • Recognize that mistakes are part of being human
  • Look for the lessons, and ask yourself what you can learn from them

 

Step 2: Employ a Growth Mindset

  • Start small, embrace challenges, find meaning in them–both in successes and failures
  • When criticizing yourself, gently remind yourself that you are there for support
  • Speak to yourself gently, as you would a close friend.

 

Step 3: Express Gratitude

  • What do you appreciate most in your life right now?
  • Make a gratitude list- the little things are the big things!
  • Set your intention of gratitude, and take a walk with it

 

Step 4: Find the Right Level of Generosity

  • Check your intention–are you giving with expectation, or from a place of joy and compassion?
  • The former can lead to feelings of resentment, the latter can increase wellbeing for the Self and others
  • Make sure you’re aware of your own needs
  • Have fun being generous, doing good for others helps us live more satisfying lives 

 

Step 5: Be Mindful

  • Mindfulness has been found to have a positive impact on self-compassion and tends to lessen self-judgment and over-identification.
  • Strive to be in the moment & be aware of what is happening right now, without judgement–allow life to unfold.
  • Meditate!

 

What is Emotional Intelligence?

  • Emotional intelligence is the ability to inquire about and understand the emotions of the people around you. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence know what they’re feeling, what their emotions mean, and how these emotions can affect other people.
  • There are 4 key elements to Emotional Intelligence which include; Self Management, Self Awareness, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management. 
  • The ability to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Self-management involves using what you know about your emotions to manage them in such a way as to generate positive interactions with others and motivate yourself in all situations. The very act of acknowledging the fact that you are feeling a negative emotion goes a long way to preventing you from losing control of your own behavior.
  • It’s your ability to notice your feelings, your physical sensations, your reactions, your habits, your behaviors, and your thoughts. By developing self-awareness, you become more in tune with how you feel, where it originates, and how your emotions and actions can affect the people around you. 
  • By recognizing your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior. You can gain the ability to learn your strengths and weaknesses, and gain self confidence.
  • Social awareness is being able to comprehend and appropriately react to both broad problems of society and interpersonal struggles. This means that being socially aware relates to being aware of your environment, what’s around you, as well as being able to accurately interpret the emotions of people with whom you interact.
  • Using empathy you can understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.
  • Relationship Management is the ability to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and connect with others, work well in a team, and manage conflict.
  • Working well with others is a process that begins with emotional awareness and your ability to recognize and understand what other people are experiencing. Once emotional awareness is in play, you can effectively develop additional social/emotional skills that will make your relationships more effective, fruitful, and fulfilling.
  • Relationship Management is the ability to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and connect with others, work well in a team, and manage conflict.
  • Working well with others is a process that begins with emotional awareness and your ability to recognize and understand what other people are experiencing. Once emotional awareness is in play, you can effectively develop additional social/emotional skills that will make your relationships more effective, fruitful, and fulfilling.

 

Resources

 

Emotional Intelligence Part 2

Marc Brackett – Who is he?

  • the Founder and Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence
  • He developed an evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning known as RULER, which has been adopted by nearly 2,000 schools from pre-k to highschool across the United States.
  • Over the past two decades, Brackett has focused on the role of emotions and emotional intelligence in learning, decision making, creativity, relationships, health, and performance. 
  • His mission is to educate the world about the value of emotions and the skills associated with using them wisely. Stating that everyone should become an emotion scientist, “We need to be curious explorers of our own and others’ emotions so they can help us achieve our goals and improve our lives.”
  • https://www.marcbrackett.com

 

What is RULER?

  • RULER is an approach to social and emotional learning that can be taught to people of all ages, with the goal of creating a healthier, more equitable, innovative, and compassionate society.
  • By using this application, the research shows that emotions do matter and can effect certain aspects of our lives such as our; attention, memory, learning, decision making, creativity, mental and physical wellbeing, the ability to form and maintain positive relationships, and academic and workplace performance
  • By acknowledging the value of emotions in our everyday effectiveness, RULER aims to infuse the principles of emotional intelligence into the immune system of each school, informing how leaders lead, teachers teach, students learn, and families support students.

 

What does RULER stand for?

    • RULER is an acronym for the five skills of emotional intelligence:
      • Recognizing emotions in oneself and others
      • Understanding the causes and consequences of emotions
      • Labeling emotions with a nuanced vocabulary
      • Expressing emotions in accordance with cultural norms and social context
      • Regulating emotions with helpful strategies

    • RULER skills help people of all ages to use their emotions wisely, opening opportunities for us to succeed in school, at work, and in life. These skills are both personal and social, such that a network emerges with positive changes reinforced
    • https://www.rulerapproach.org/about/what-is-ruler/

 

The Mood Meter App

  • The Science Behind the Mood Meter – http://moodmeterapp.com/science/
    • The Mood Meter is one of the “Anchors of Emotional Intelligence” in the RULER program. It helps people develop the core RULER skills: Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, and Regulating emotions. 
  • The Mood Meter develops emotional intelligence over time. Learning to identify and label emotions is a critical step toward cultivating emotional intelligence. Using the Mood Meter can help you become more mindful of how your emotions change throughout the day and how your emotions in turn affect your actions.  Using the Mood Meter can help you to develop self-awareness and self-regulation, it’s important to understand the full scope of your emotional life.
  • The chart below shows how to identify your emotions by using the color coded guide to help classify what type of emotion you are feeling. The app can be found on the Google Play Store as well as the Apple Store. 
  • (attach mood meter picture)

 

Shame Part 1 

What Is Shame?

  • an “intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.
  • …the painful feeling that comes with the belief that who i am is not okay.
  • …shame often arises from trauma and is a master tool that maintains oppression.”

 

Shame Is Closely Linked To:

  • Shame is closely linked to: 
    • Addiction
    • Depression
    • Self-harm & Suicide
    • Anxiety
    • Control & Perfectionism
    • Rage & Violence
    • Victimization
    • Procrastination
    • Mental illness (such as narcissism and BPD)
    • Hurtful Partner Relationships

 

Where Does Shame Come From?

  • shame is processed in the limbic system, which influences the autonomic nervous system.
  • the autonomic nervous system is responsible for fight, flight, freeze, and fawn responses.
  • all the while there is little to no activity in the prefrontal cortex—the logical, thinking part of the brain.
  • shame is counterproductive!

 

  • people experiencing shame are likely to judge and blame themselves and other people, act out in anger and violent behavior toward themselves (more common with women) and/or other people (more common with men), and project their shame onto other people
  • Cultural factors play a major role in how a person experiences shame and what experiences are likely to evoke shame

 

What Does Shaming Look Like?

  • mostly verbal, and sometimes non-verbal by way of a look of contempt or disgust
  • trying to control behavior to get people to conform or do what one wants them to do
  • labeling people, name calling, dehumanization (ex. person who spent time in prison = criminal) 

 

Shaming Also Looks Like!

  • othering people by using characteristics like race, gender, sexual orientation and physical characteristics
  • telling people “shame on you” or “you should be ashamed of yourself”
  • using language to say that a person is wrong for feeling, wanting, or needing something

 

What is Shame Spiral?

  • A shame spiral is what can happen when the feeling or experience of shame traps us in our thoughts.
  • Have you ever felt ashamed of something, and kept replaying it in your mind? Did you find more to feel ashamed of with each replay until you were completely spinning out and stuck? 
    • Chances are, you found yourself in a shame spiral!

 

Did you know Men and Women Experience Different Types of Shame?

  • According to a 2010 study conducted by a group of psychologists, men and women experience shame differently. Why?
    • In a patriarchal society, women are more susceptible to feel humiliated compared to men. 
  • When it comes to age, adolescents are more prone to experience the negative effects of shame. Why? 
    • During the adolescents stage, individuals are still developing their identity and are expected to conform to societal norms.   
  • https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-scientific-underpinnings-and-impacts-of-shame/

 

How Do Women Experience Shame?

  • Women tend to experience shame with regard to appearance and behavior—societal expectations to look and be perfect, and to please—perfectionism leads women to feel unworthy and not enough at work, at home, in social situations and with their parenting.
    • This leads women to develop unrealistic expectations of themselves and others.
  • Which can look like: “Who I am is not enough and I need to do more, and do things perfectly to prove I am worthy.”
  • Partners may feel lonely or missing out on meeting relationship needs with all the effort their partners put in to make sure everything looks perfect

 

How Do Men Experience Shame?

  • Men tend to experience shame as failure to achieve and perform (at work, at home, in the bedroom, in society), provide, and feel both fear and shame about showing they are struggling as they are taught it is weak and they are not “Man Enough” if they express their feelings.
  • Which can look like: “If you really knew me you would see that I’m a failure and I’m not good enough, smart enough, strong enough, and lovable enough.”
  • Men experiencing shame may avoid intimate relationships, close off, deflect with humor, have angry outbursts, develop addictions (pornography is common), may be judged as insensitive, defensive, and/or angry.

 

What Can We Do About It?

  • Practice Self-Compassion – talk to yourself the way you would talk to a close friend.
    • “May I accept myself as I am”
    • “May I cherish myself”
  • Reach out to someone you trust and feel safe with, who can hold space for you without over-identifying.
  • Tell your story.
  • Connect, volunteer, be of service to others.
    • Empathy and Shame cannot coexist.
    • Air that stuff out!