Holiday Light Therapy

48513-Holiday-Lights

During the winter months, many people may begin to notice feelings of increased fatigue, feeling down or blue and feeling just kind of blah. As we know in the mental health field, exposure to light is necessary to help cope with and combat feelings of depression and other mood disorders. Recently I began thinking about the affect that holiday lights may have on our mental health. If science has shown us the light therapy is effective for treating seasonal affective disorder, can holiday lights also help fight sadness during the winter? Although I have not implemented any scientific studies, I would like to believe that holiday lights do indeed increase positive thoughts and decrease feelings of sadness. A client of mine recently spoke about their difficulties with the holidays because their mother had passed away a few years ago right before Christmas. This client told me about their experiences of walking down a downtown street in December, seeing all of the “pretty lights” and hearing Christmas music and how it really helped them feel better and give them that warm, fuzzy feeling. Although the holidays remind this client of their mother passing, it also reminds them of all of the happy memories as well. Perhaps we can all take some time to just look at our christmas trees, or watch the candle light illuminate from a menorah (or insert any version of pretty lights that you enjoy). And guess what!? Just sitting and looking at the lights is practicing mindfulness! Being in the moment and being aware of your surroundings is what mindfulness is all about! Holiday namaste everyone!!

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Consciousness

con·scious·ness

ˈkän(t)SHəsnəs/

noun

noun: consciousness

1. the state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings.

So what does “Interpreting Consciousness” even mean? Well, when tryingto think a fun and clever blog name I came up with several lame and boring idioms and puns until I came to this name. I tried to find a simple way to describe my job as a mental health counselor, and I felt like “Interpreting Consciousness” really summed it up. As a mental health counselor I can diagnose, provide suggestions, utilize techniques, understand theory etc. But, at the end of the day, what I’m really doing is acting as a mirror for my clients to help them better understand themselves and how to cope with emotions and solve problems. Essentially, I help them interpret their consciousness, their state of being awake and being aware of their surroundings and all that that entails. In the process of helping my clients, I also interpret my own consciousness and shed some light on my own life.

Wisely Wrapping Up 2017

The end of the year is coming and many of us are looking forward to the New Year in 2018. Setting New Year’s resolutions is always a great idea, but why wait until the New Year to get started on promoting positivity in your life!? Start wrapping up 2017 now with the following tips:

1. Looking Back: Make a list of the top 10 things that you did this year, big or small. Maybe you started a new job, established a new friendship or finally read that book you’ve been meaning to finish. A year is a long time and sometimes our accomplishments can be forgotten, so take some time to be proud of yourself and how far you’ve come during this year.

2. Looking Forward: Think about the things you wish you’d done this year, but didn’t find the time. Maybe you wanted to try a yoga class and never had the chance, or take that cooking class you’ve been interested in. Make a list of these things to use to help establish your goals and resolutions for 2018.

3. Express Gratitude: Thank your friends, family or co-workers for all of their help over this past year and express gratitude for all of the great things in your life. Acknowledging the things that we are thankful for helps promote a positive environment for yourself and others and helps to reduce negative thought patterns.

4. Forgive: Many times we think about forgiveness as being a gift for someone else, when in reality when we forgive we are opening ourselves to more positive experiences rather than dwelling on something from the past. Forgiveness is about self-compassion rather than giving in or giving up.

5. Accept Shortcomings: Everyone makes mistakes and faces hardship. Accept that things didn’t always go your way during 2017, and know that 2018 may be just as challenging. Letting go of shortcomings from the past and accepting responsibility allows you to accept the challenges ahead while finding the motivation and resources to keep pushing forward.

6. Socialize: The holiday season can be overwhelming and it is easy to feel stressed about finances, family, parties and presents. Take time to remember what the holiday season is about and surround yourself with those whom you are closest to and care so much about.

7. Be Mindful: Let go of worry about the future by using mindfulness to stay in the moment. Being open-minded, non-judgmental and using the five senses helps to stay grounded in the current moment and reduce those “what if?” thoughts about the future.

8. Self-Awareness: If you woke up tomorrow and your life was exactly how you wanted it to be, what would that look like? Getting caught up in current problems can make it difficult to stay focused on goals and solutions. Thinking about where you would like to be can help raise self-awareness and increase problem solving skills. Start by asking yourself this question before jumping into setting New Year’s resolutions. Once you have an idea of where you’d like to be, you can start to make a plan of how you can get there!