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How to meditate: Simple meditation for beginners

How to meditate: Simple meditation for beginners

As we begin a new year and a new decade, we encourage you to establish healthy coping mechanisms that you can use to ease the stress of the daily struggles life throws at you. If you haven’t given meditation a try, we strongly suggest it! Many first-time meditators find it difficult to focus and find it strange to sit in silence. However, with a little practice, meditation is a wonderful way to calm your mind and to feel at ease. Below, we offer a few tips on how to get started.

Step #1 – Find a quiet space

First, find a quiet area in your home, office, car or wherever you’re comfortable. If a completely silent atmosphere is uncomfortable for you, play meditation music on your phone or turn on a white noise machine. Before beginning, it may be beneficial to set an alarm on your phone to avoid having to check the clock.  

Step #2 – Focus on your body and breathing

Close your eyes and take two deep breaths to begin. It’s important to mentally scan your body for areas of comfort, discomfort and tension. While doing so, take deep breaths in and out – familiarize yourself with the natural rhythm of your body. 

Step #3 – Count your breaths

Follow the rising and falling of your breaths to calm your mind. Our mind is bound to wander while trying to relax, so we suggest silently counting your breaths until you’ve mastered focusing on just your breathing. Don’t become discouraged if you find your mind wandering to your to-do list for the day – this is normal! It takes time and practice to achieve a focused meditation session. 

Step #4 – Ease back into your day

After turning off your timer, let your mind adjust back into your daily routine for a few seconds. Notice your surroundings as you bring your focus back to your body, and open your eyes. 

Quieting the mind can be a difficult task, but it’s not impossible. If you or someone you know struggles with stress and could benefit from learning how to establish healthy coping skills, we encourage you to contact South Bay Community Services. We strive to provide the proper programs, certified staff members and clinicians for the perfect combination of professional therapy and guidance.

For more information, contact us at 508-521-2200 or click here.

Three ways to beat seasonal depression

Three ways to beat seasonal depression

The winter months are usually considered a time of happiness and joy, but for some, it can be a tough period of time to get through. Whether you’re battling anxiety over having to socialize during the holidays, depression over thoughts of a loved one you’ve recently lost, etc., know that you’re not alone. Seasonal Affective Disorder can cause a change in your mood, appetite or sleeping habits, and it’s extremely common during the colder, darker winter months. Below, we offer a few tips on how to overcome seasonal depression. 

Spend time in the sun

Take at least a few minutes every day to spend time outdoors or sit near a window. Bright light – both natural and artificial – can improve health outcomes, such as depression and anxiety. So, take a walk when it’s sunny out or purchase sunlight imitators for those dreary days. 

Stay active

Although it may be hard to leave your warm bed during the winter, consider partaking in winter sports, holiday shopping with friends or sightseeing to improve your mood. Exercise is a great way to produce endorphins, which trigger positive feelings. Find positive activities that will help you express and control your emotions.  

Set limits 

During the holidays, there’s a large demand for you to spend time and resources on others. Know your limits! You can steer clear of overcommitting by learning how to say no. Now, don’t say no to every opportunity you’re presented with, but ensure you’re leaving enough time for yourself to relax and enjoy the season. 

Staying positive during the winter months can be difficult but definitely not impossible, and regularly talking with someone about it can help. If you’re looking for someone to talk to, our Mental Health and Substance Abuse counseling services might be what you need this winter. South Bay strives to provide the proper programs, certified staff members and clinicians for the perfect combination of professional therapy and guidance.

For more information, contact us at 508-521-2200 or click here.  

 

Mental health benefits of expressing gratitude

Mental health benefits of expressing gratitude

The holiday season can bring a mix of emotions to those battling mental health challenges. However, if you choose to reframe the way you look at and respond to certain situations, you might find that you feel recharged and rejuvenated. We encourage you to choose gratitude this holiday season, as allowing yourself to have a grateful mind can positively impact your mental health and well-being. Let us explain! 

Gratitude can boost your relationships. 

Expressing your appreciation for the relationships you’ve cultivated will make a difference in both your life and theirs. If this makes you feel a little uncomfortable, just remember – chances are they need to hear it more than you know. Text them. Call them. Direct message them. Email them. Visit them in person. The way in which you show your gratitude for others doesn’t matter – just make sure you’ve made it known. Your message of thanks can be as detailed or as brief as you want it to be. A little gratitude can go a long way. 

Gratitude can enhance your self-esteem. 

Think about how empowered you’ll feel if you stop comparing and begin appreciating. Everyone is following their own path, and grateful people are able to acknowledge and appreciate other people’s milestones and accomplishments. Once you’re able to respect others’ strengths, you’ll be able to cherish your own.  

Gratitude can improve your sleeping patterns. 

Here’s the challenge: Every night for one week, jot down a few grateful sentiments before bed. Typically, the struggle to fall asleep is due to feelings of stress and anxiety. So, re-route your thinking by taking time to write out the positive things, experiences and people that were part of our day. You’ll likely find that this allows you to end your day feeling optimistic and encouraged.  

Staying positive during the holidays can be difficult but definitely not impossible, and regularly talking with someone about it can help. If you’re looking for someone to talk to, our Mental Health and Substance Abuse counseling services might be what you need this winter. South Bay strives to provide the proper programs, certified staff members and clinicians for the perfect combination of professional therapy and guidance.

For more information, contact us at 508-521-2200 or click here

Seeing a mental health clinician: It’s not so scary

Seeing a mental health clinician: It’s not so scary

For some, the thought of attending a counseling session isn’t easy. In fact, it can feel terrifying. It’s because there’s a stigma placed on mental health – a common misconception that seeing a clinician means there’s something “wrong” with you. We disagree. Asking for help indicates you are taking control of your life and of your mental health. While this can be scary, the things that often scare us are great opportunities for us to step up and grow. You may find that facing your fears will prove to be empowering, rather than petrifying.

Need a little more reassurance? Below, a few South Bay clients share how counseling sessions with our clinicians have impacted their lives.

 

“I have been attending South Bay for four months. South Bay has helped me regain my morals and values again. It has helped me to build upon my spiritual, physical and mental health. I was at a point where I was lacking in my life, and I needed South Bay. They were right there when I called. Just be open and honest with yourself while you’re here. Work on the issues you need to work on. Allow yourself the opportunity for the staff members to work with you. They have great staff members here, and they have a lot of experience. I would tell anyone to be open and receptive for a change.” – Morse  

 

“My son has come to South Bay’s Early Intervention program for about a year. He had a speech delay, and now he’s made so much progress with talking because of the services he’s received from South Bay. His attention span has improved. All the clinicians are great. Whether they’re coming to my house or we’re coming here, they’re amazing. They help him succeed and move forward, and they build relationships with you. I would recommend any parent brings their child here.” – Nicole

 

“I’ve been coming to South Bay for about a year. It helps me maintain my structure, and I learn ways to cope with problems that I have in my life. The clinicians are very down to earth. That makes it easy to open up – you see that they have compassion. My biggest advice is to just get past the first day.” – Matthew

 

If you’re ready to begin your journey to recovery, we encourage you to contact us today. South Bay Community Services strives to provide the proper programs, certified staff members and clinicians for the perfect combination of professional therapy and guidance. At South Bay, you will find the support and guidance you need.

For more information, contact us at 508-521-2200 or click here.

Circuit cleaning: A strategy for decluttering

Circuit cleaning: A strategy for decluttering

By: Kelly M., senior clinician at South Bay

According to Dictionary.com, a circuit is defined as a roughly circular line, route or movement that starts and finishes at the same place or an established itinerary of events or venues used for a particular activity. Beautiful! What does that have to do with decluttering, you might ask? Well, before I get to that, we need a bit more information.

The first thing you want to consider when setting a decluttering goal – what needs decluttering? Perhaps you struggle with Hoarding Disorder and want to declutter your home or perhaps you want to declutter your lifestyle by placing restrictions or limits on people or behaviors. Regardless of your specific answer, this technique can be useful, but it’s important to have a clear idea in mind.

The second thing to ask yourself – are you willing to dedicate the time and energy to accomplish this decluttering project? If it seems like the universe is out to get you, it might not be the right time. This doesn’t mean you cannot work on this, but you may need to be creative with your timing and attention.

Let’s segue into attention now. Maybe you have a goal. Maybe you have the energy and time to accomplish this goal. As I have run South Bay’s hoarding group over the years, I have often heard, “I just can’t focus on one task. I jump from room to room, and I never get anything done so I get frustrated and give up.” Okay. That makes sense, but this is where circuit cleaning comes in handy.

Circuit cleaning works with the same design as circuit training. You do a set of reps on one machine, then another, then another and eventually work your way back to the first one and start the circuit all over again. So, instead of forcing yourself to try to focus on one task at a time, pick a very small project in each station of the circuit and work on it a little bit at a time. For example, if we use a hoarding situation: Create a small decluttering goal in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living room, etc. until you have done at least something necessary in each room. Then circle back around and start the circuit again. The hope is that eventually you will start accomplishing the small goal you set out to finish in each room.

Other additions would make this technique more effective, as in a timer for each station or a post-it or dry-erase board in each room with the goal on it. But, this technique works with the struggle of focusing and also avoids the potential for boredom.

So, if you’re trying to clean your house, your inbox, sort through old photos or whatever decluttering goal you set upon and other techniques haven’t worked, maybe you’re fighting inattention or boredom. Instead, change it up and give circuit cleaning a try.

Debunking myths about mental strength

Debunking myths about mental strength

Mental strength is the way you think, feel and behave during certain situations. Building mental strength will help you gain self-acceptance while working toward self-improvement. However, there are several misconceptions about what mental strength is and why it’s important. Below, we discuss common myths about developing mental strength.

Myth #1: Mental strength and mental health are the same thing.

Mental strength and mental health, although they may coincide, are not the same thing. Mental health isn’t something we can control – mental strength is. Factors such as genetics and past life experiences can lead to someone developing a mental health challenge, but this doesn’t mean that person isn’t mentally strong. Everyone has the ability to build mental strength, regardless of whether they have depression, anxiety, etc.

Myth #2: You’re either mentally strong or mentally weak.

There is no physical line that separates those who are mentally strong from those who are mentally weak. Everyone has room for improvement when it comes to building their mental strength, and working toward developing that strength does not mean that you’re weak. Just as increased physical strength requires daily work, so does mental strength. Coming to terms with the areas where we can grow stronger will help improve our overall mental fitness.

Myth #3: Mental strength means always thinking positively.

Constant positive thinking isn’t going to make you mentally strong – it’s learning how to think rationally and realistically that makes the difference. You might not be in charge of a situation, but you can certainly dictate your own attitude, reaction and plan of action moving forward. To do so, establish coping skills that will help you manage certain situations. Developing mental strength through coping mechanisms can increase your ability to assess both positive and negative thoughts, which can lead you to make more conscious actions.

If you’re ready to take the next step in improving your mental strength, we encourage you to contact us today. South Bay Community Services strives to provide the proper programs, certified staff members and clinicians for the perfect combination of professional therapy and guidance. At South Bay, you will find the support and guidance you need.

For more information, contact us at 508-521-2200 or click here.