7 Steps to Setting and Attaining Goals

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A Goal is:

What changes are you contemplating making or achievements you are considering? A goal is a written promise with a deadline to ourselves. A goal is a vision for one’s future, they are time sensitive, and tend to be large in nature; something that may feel out of reach.  Goals should not be identified as an objective, a resolution, or a mission. 

Goal- setting

Goal-setting is the process of identifying something that we want to work towards and accomplish. Through identification, we then establish the measurable and specific objectives to complete the task. Goal setting is important in our lives because it provides direction and gives us a purpose. Goal setting can be a motivator to take action, illicit positive change, and offers a sense of control over our future. Most importantly, when achieved, goals give us a sense of accomplishment.

There are several common types of goals including short-term goals, long-term goals, personal goals, professional goals, financial goals, academic goals and social goals. Although it is important to identify the type of goals that align with your values and priorities, they all are achieved by taking the same steps.

The Steps of Goal Setting

A goal setting process or identification of the necessary steps forces us to think about the journey instead of fixating on the destination.

  1. Decide what your goals/objectives are (Think about the results you want to see) – Ask:

Is this goal something I want?Does it align with my values, priorities or other goals?

Is there time to pour the time and effort into it?

2. Create SMART goals

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound

3. Write down your goals and put them in a place that is visible- Writing goals down make them real and tangible instead of ideas that are in our mind.

4. Create a plan of action – List out your overall goal and all the steps necessary to accomplish the task

5. Create a timeline – visualize roles, tasks, milestones and deadlines that will allow for you to achieve your goals.

6. Take action – Review your action plan and timeline and begin.

7. Evaluate and assess your progress – Do something daily towards achieving your goal and schedule a weekly evaluation to see what progress has been made

Deciding to goal set and implementing a plan to achieve set goal allows for success to come quicker. It can fuel ambition and help in seeing tangible results.

How to use ACT “Dropping Anchor” to Focus on What Matters

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As frustrating and overwhelming as our emotions can be, it is important to take the time and space to listen to them as it is their job to communicate a message to us. Our instinct is to push uncomfortable emotions away, which is completely understandable and what we are wired to do. However, we all know there are consequences to not paying attention to our emotions – they get bottled up and show up at extremely inconvenient times. 

Our brains tell us that we have to change our behavior as a result of our emotions. Examples of this self-talk include “You can’t do that, you’ll feel too anxious,” “Someone will be able to tell that you’re freaking out,” “It’s way easier to just stay home.” 

Self-compassion is important because these thoughts are common with our mind’s goal of avoiding discomfort. These thoughts might even be true, which makes them hard to dispute! In this moment, it is important to remember what is important about the moment as most things that matter to us cause some form of discomfort! Relationships with family, friends, partners, a new job opportunity, pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones, trying new hobbies.

We can use an ACT grounding skill called “Dropping Anchor” to help us navigate the stormy seas of emotions and still do what matters to us. Use the acronym ACE to help you remember how. 

A – Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings. 

Adopt the stance of a National Geographic documentary narrator, curiously exploring what is going on in your inner world 

C – Come back into your body 

Slowly push your feet into the floor, straighten up your back and spine, press your fingertips together, slowly stretch arms and neck, shrug shoulders, intentionally breathe slowly. You can try one or all. 

E- Engage in what you are doing 

Give your full attention to the next task or activity at hand. Notice your surroundings – 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing to taste. 

You can repeat this process 2 or 3 times until you feel connected to the present and are able to remind yourself what is important.

Is It Anger?

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What is Anger? 

According to Merriam Webster, anger is defined as a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. It is an intense emotional state we have all experienced and expressed in response to a perceived provocation, hurt or threat from someone or something.

Anger is simply a part of what it means to be human. Feelings of anger can be brought on through several different means and within many different contexts. To name a few, unjust treatment, being criticized or judged and quite simply not receiving what we feel we are owed. Like most emotions/feelings, anger is on a continuum that ranges from a mild irritation to downright rage.

However, expressing anger does have its benefits. Anger serves as an internal alarm, a defense mechanisms and results in us taking a stand against a wrong.

Anger is a Secondary Emotion

What you and many might not realize is that anger is considered a secondary emotion. This means that primary emotions such as fear, sadness, embarrassment and hurt lie underneath it; and because it is hard for us to express those primary emotions, we will push anger to the top. Feeling the primary emotions can be uncomfortable and leave us in a state of vulnerability. Shifting to anger provides a sense of energy, control, and power.

How to Manage Anger

Whenever you are experiencing anger, no matter where you fall on its continuum, slow yourself down in an effort to identify the underlining emotion. Start by exploring your thoughts and your belief system about the given interaction; as they fuel your emotional response. Be mindful that feeling anger may be an ingrained emotional response, which means that it can take more time to identify the deeper thoughts and feelings that lie underneath.

By working with your therapist regarding your primary emotions, you will be able to develop skills to relate to your anger. By working with your therapist to identify these primary emotions, you can work towards the best course of action to resolve your problem.

Embracing the Light: 8 Ways to Cope with Seasonal Depression

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As the seasons change, so do our moods. For some, the end of Summer and onset of Fall and Winter brings more than just chilly temperatures—it brings seasonal depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). However, there are effective strategies to navigate this challenging time and find moments of light even in the darkest months.

Understanding Seasonal Depression

Seasonal depression, or SAD, is a subtype of depression that occurs in a specific season, most commonly in the winter months. Its onset is often linked to reduced exposure to natural sunlight, which can disrupt our internal biological clock and lead to feelings of sadness and fatigue.

1. Embrace the Power of Light:

Maximize exposure to natural light by spending time outdoors during daylight hours. If that’s not possible, consider investing in a light therapy box, which mimics natural sunlight and can help regulate your mood.

2. Establish a Consistent Routine:

Create a daily schedule that includes regular sleep patterns, exercise, and time for relaxation. A structured routine can provide a sense of stability and control, which is particularly important when combating depression.

3. Prioritize Physical Activity:

Exercise has been shown to be a powerful antidote to depression. Engaging in regular physical activity releases endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifters. Activities like walking, yoga, or dancing can be both enjoyable and beneficial.

4. Nourish Your Body:

Maintain a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Avoid excessive consumption of caffeine, alcohol, and sugary foods, as they can exacerbate mood swings.

5. Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation:

Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness can help calm the mind and reduce stress. These techniques provide valuable tools for managing the symptoms of seasonal depression.

6. Seek Social Connections:

Isolation can worsen symptoms of depression, so make an effort to stay connected with friends and loved ones. Engage in activities that bring you joy and allow for meaningful interactions.

7. Engage in Creative Outlets:

Expressing yourself through art, writing, or other creative endeavors can be incredibly therapeutic. It provides an outlet for emotions and a way to gain perspective on your feelings.

8. Seek Professional Support:

If seasonal depression becomes overwhelming, seeking help from a mental health professional is a sign of strength, not weakness. Therapy, counseling, and, if necessary, medication can be crucial components of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Seasonal depression may cast a shadow, but remember that you have the power to reclaim the light. By implementing these coping strategies and seeking support when needed, you can navigate the winter months with resilience and hope. Remember, you are not alone, and there is always help available. Embrace each day with compassion and take small steps toward brighter days ahead.

3 Connections That Food Has to Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression

It is important to recognize the role that nutrition plays in our mental health. While we often associate food with physical health, what we eat also impacts how we feel emotionally and mentally. The following are three connections between food and mental well-being:

        1.      The Role of Nutrients
The human brain relies on a balanced intake of essential nutrients to function optimally. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish like salmon and walnuts, are crucial for brain health and have been linked to lower rates of depression and cognitive issues. Similarly, foods rich in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, protect the brain from stress and reduce the risk of mental disorders.
        2.      The Gut-Brain Axis:
The gut and the brain are connected through a network known as the gut-brain axis. Microorganisms residing in our gut, collectively known as the gut microbiota, play a crucial role in this communication. An imbalance in gut bacteria can contribute to mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Consuming probiotics found in fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut, can help restore a healthy gut microbiota and positively impact mental well-being.
        3.      Blood Sugar and Mood:
The foods we eat can influence our blood sugar levels, which, in turn, affect our mood and energy levels. Consuming high-sugar and refined carbohydrate-rich foods can lead to rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar, resulting in irritability, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. Complex carbohydrates like whole grains and vegetables provide a steady release of glucose into the bloodstream, promoting stable mood and sustained energy levels.

As the research on the connection between food and mental health continues to unfold, it becomes evident that our dietary choices can significantly impact our emotional and cognitive well-being. By adopting a mindful approach to nutrition, focusing on nutrient-dense foods, fostering a healthy gut microbiota, and maintaining stable blood sugar levels, we can nurture our mental health.