Archives for the month of: January, 2015

We spend a significant amount of times in our homes. It’s where we start our day off and end our day. It’s where we connect with family members. It’s where we share meals and stories after a long day. Some of my clients have shared that their household is a source of stress and anxiety for them. They know their home can be a source of relaxation and calm for them, but are not sure how to create a stress-free environment. Below are some simple strategies you can utilize in your home to create harmony, balance and calm.

Add symbols around your house that you associate calmness with
One way to increase calm immediately is through the usage of symbols that you associate calmness with and then adding them to various parts of your house. Some people find items for the ocean to be calming for them, while some people might like to put statues of Buddhas around the house. Go look at your local home goods store and find what speaks to you. You can also find items in nature, such as flowers, that help bring calming energy to your home. Put them strategically around your house, in places that have either been a source of stress for you or prominent places in your house where you will see the symbol often.

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Incorporate the usage of essential oils
Adding essential oils into your household can help bring a relief from anxiety. Lavender has a calming effect when used. You can use a diffuser to get the full effects around the house. You can also purchase everyday items with your favorite calming scent in them. In my household, I use lavender scented cleaning products. You can pick a scent that works for you and can use it in your shower, in your cleaning routine and topically.

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Declutter space that is a source of anxiety
Do you have a pile of mail you see when you first walk into your house? Is your living room filled with toys or other items that just lead you to feel stressed? One surefire way to feel less stressed in the house is to remove these items. Clean up the bills and mail. Find a permanent home for those toys. Tackle your overflowing closet that you have been putting off. Clean out the garage and have a sale. Use the money you earned to buy your relaxation symbols and calming oils.

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Put up positive affirmations around your house
Make a list of positive affirmations that you want to live by and then put them up in various locations in your house. One of the most popular places is in on the mirror in your bathroom. What a great way to be reminded, at least twice a day, that you are beautiful or that you can achieve your dreams. You can put them on doors, the fridge, mirrors in the house or anywhere you walk by and see on a regular basis. Ask your children what they want their positive affirmations to be so they are actively involved in the process.

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Use meals as an anchor for connection
Use meal time as a way to connect with yourself and your family. Use meal time to talk about things that will get conversation flowing and people opening up. It’s not a time to talk about those bills, school grades or work stressors. It can be used as a time to find out how a person is feeling or what they appreciate about each other. When there is harmony around meals, family members will be more engaged and excited for family time. If you live alone, take meal times to connect with yourself and review how you are feeling. Take a walk after dinner to continue to connect with each other and with yourself. Remember, the goal is to increase connection and harmony within yourself and with others.

What will you commit to in order to decrease stress and increase harmony into your household? What other suggestions do you have to begin calmness into your life? What obstacles do you face with your family or in your house?

Amanda Patterson, LMHC, CAP decided to become a therapist while attending Nova Southeastern University. She saw the need to help people achieve the life they wanted to live, while creating a life of her own. She completed her master’s in Mental Health Counseling and started a career in the juvenile justice arena. Since then, she has started a private practice in Pembroke Pines, Florida, specializing in depression, anxiety relationship issues, and substance abuse. Amanda is a believer in holistic treatment and she practices veganism, meditation and yoga in her life. Find out more about her practice here. For a free 15-minute consultation, call or text Amanda at 954-258-8845 or email her at amanda@amandapattersonlmhc.com.

On this Meatless Monday, I have decided to dedicate a blog post to the mental health benefits of going/being vegan. I was inspired yesterday after meeting with the No-Meat Athlete group here in Fort Lauderdale for a 5k run and breakfast outing. Personally, I have been a vegan for over five years, after reading the infamous book, Skinny Bitch. Since then, I have dedicated one of my life’s purposes to being vegan. After giving some thought to the people I spent yesterday morning with, as well as examining the people in my life that are currently vegan, I decided to share about the ways I believe being vegan (and vegetarian) is good for your mental health. So my question for you after reading the following is how will you commit to your mental health through giving up meat on Mondays, going vegetarian or through the Full Monty of veganism?

Vegans practice compassion everyday
Vegans choose to eat plant-based foods every day over putting meat into their body. They choose to pick life over pleasure. They choose to make conscious decisions about what they put in their bodies. And the decision is to spare animals in their quest for nourishment. We live in a society where at one level animals are a part of our families. We spent millions each year on animal food, vet bills, costumes for animals, etc to ensure they are happy and healthy. We have dogs, cats, hamsters, snakes, guinea pigs, ferrets, etc as pets. And on the other hand, I went to a restaurant the other night that was serving antelope on the menu. Americans consume pigs, cows, ducks, fish and any plethora of other animals every day, several times a day. There is definitely an incongruence when a person keeps fish as a pet, gives them a name, feeds them every night and puts cute toys in their tank and that person sits down to a salmon dinner at night.

Vegans learn to be creative, in many aspects of their life
When you become vegan you get exposed to a multitude of foods that you would not have otherwise been exposed to. You learn to cook with a variety of spices, especially if you like tofu because tofu takes on the taste of whatever it is marinated or cooked in. You learn how to bake without the usage of eggs or dairy products. You learn how to make simple meals into extravagant vegan meals. It goes a step further than that for people who do not wear or use any animal products. Women who love purses learn how to get creative in their search for the best Big Buddha or Stella McCartney bags.

Vegans know how to engage people in conversation
The first rule of vegan club? Tell everyone about vegan club. Vegans have the best conversation starters. “How long have you been vegan”, “Have you ever considered going vegan”, “Let me tell you about my journey of becoming a vegan” and the list goes on and on. Vegans have the best jokes around: “Why did the tofu cross the road? To prove he wasn’t chicken”. Vegans have the best pick-up likes, too. “Can I take your picture for the sexiest vegan contest?”. “What’s your favorite thing to do with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos?”.

Vegans embrace their passion all the time
Being vegan means making choices every day about what to eat, what to wear and how to interact with the world. It takes commitment and dedication and vegans live that every day. For me, being vegan goes beyond what I eat. It is a lifestyle choice I decided to make. It has become a part of who I am and that part of me is expressed every day. Being passionate about something gives you the energy to wake up in the morning after a late night. Following your dreams requires being a passionate person. Opening up and being passionate in life are essentials for good mental health.

Vegans know how to have a good time
My favorite thing to tell non-vegans are being vegan is that Oreos are vegan. Oreos are my favorite dessert to cheat with. When everyone else is eating that generic birthday cake, I am usually found in the corner at parties, eating Oreos, one bite at a time. I always make sure there are Oreos at every party I throw. And why? Because vegans know how to have a good time. Vegans know how to let loose and let go in ways that make them feel comfortable. Vegans know how to laugh when people ask them where they get their protein from. Vegans know how to bring their own food to parties and still end up being the life of the party as they share the above mentioned vegan jokes.

I encourage each of you, whether you are already vegan/vegetarian, veg-curious, a Meatless Monday enthusiast or a fan of my blogs, to take a look at your relationship with meat and how it is impacting you in your life. Are you interested in learning more about going vegan? Here’s a link for more information.

Happy Meatless Mondays!

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Amanda Patterson, LMHC, CAP decided to become a therapist while attending Nova Southeastern University. She saw the need to help people achieve the life they wanted to live, while creating a life of her own. She completed her master’s in Mental Health Counseling and started a career in the juvenile justice arena. Since then, she has started a private practice in Pembroke Pines, Florida, specializing in depression, anxiety relationship issues, and substance abuse. Amanda is a believer in holistic treatment and she practices veganism, meditation and yoga in her life. Find out more about her practice here. For a free 15-minute consultation, call or text Amanda at 954-258-8845 or email her at amanda@amandapattersonlmhc.com.

I got a call from an old client recently. I accidentally scheduled an appointment for him through my online system and he was calling to let me know. We chatted briefly and he reported that he is doing much better than when he came in to see me. He was experiencing debilitating symptoms at the time and despite previous attempts at treatment, medication and current therapy with me, his symptoms just weren’t lifting. He suddenly called me one day and dropped out of treatment. And for me, that is where our story ended, or so I thought. My goal with clients is to help them heal and relieve symptoms and at the same time respect their decision to change course in treatment. I’m a naturally inquisitive person and often wonder what happens to people I don’t hear from again. Little did I know, I was going to have the chance to find this out.

When I spoke to him, he reported that something I said must have sunk in. Something shifted inside of him and changed. He sounded really great on the phone and shared that he was feeling great too. He thanked me for the work we did together and we hung up. I gave our conversation some thought and wondered how this turned out to be a treatment success, when if someone had asked me prior to talking to him, I would have said treatment was not effective. What I was able to recognize that the biggest factor in his case, and with many people, is the desire to have things differently in their life. The biggest factor of change in therapy is the client. I am simply a conduit for change. I provide the tools and feedback, but it’s up to the client to do something with that information given. This was truly a case of reciprocity that continued on past the time in my office. This client was able to show me that no matter what technique was being done and what really insightful information was explored, it has to do with a person’s willingness and desire to have a different life.

So now I decided to write a post about this topic for both myself and you, the reader. It served as a reminder to me that even though I might not see the fruits of my labor right away as a therapist, the seeds were planted and someone can bloom in their time, in their way. As for current and future clients, I implore you to think about what you desire in your life and how you (and me) can make it happen. It is after all the New Year and a time for renewal and setting intentions. What do you want your 2015 to look like? Are you currently in therapy and feeling stuck? Just remember therapy is a process and things take time and who knows, one day you will be able to call your old therapist and gush about the shifts you have made in your life.

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Amanda Patterson, LMHC, CAP decided to become a therapist while attending Nova Southeastern University. She saw the need to help people achieve the life they wanted to live, while creating a life of her own. She completed her master’s in Mental Health Counseling and started a career in the juvenile justice arena. Since then, she has started a private practice in Pembroke Pines, Florida, specializing in depression, anxiety relationship issues, and substance abuse. Amanda is a believer in holistic treatment and she practices veganism, meditation and yoga in her life. Find out more about her practice here. For a free 15-minute consultation, call or text Amanda at 954-258-8845 or email her at amanda@amandapattersonlmhc.com.

Disclaimer: The client stories posted on this blog are intended to provide learning opportunities or address challenges in the home- or community-based counseling settings. Identifying information has been omitted and details have modified as necessary.