Jan 16th

Are you SAD?

By The Calli Institute

SAD Seasonal Affective Disorder by Calli Institute Been thinking about warmer climates lately? Planning a trip to the beach for spring break? You’re not alone. Minnesota is known for its harsh winters and this one has been especially hard. One of the reasons for your desire to head south may have to do with the body’s natural yearning for daylight to brighten your mood.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), sometimes referred to as the “winter blues,” is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year and usually resolves with the next change of season. SAD is seen more often in northern latitudes and occurs more frequently in women than in men. The exact cause of SAD is not known, but it has been linked to genetics, age, and your body’s natural chemical makeup. The most common factors associated with SAD include:

Your biological clock or circadian rhythm: As the days get shorter in the fall and winter, exposure to sunlight is reduced and may disrupt your internal clock
Melatonin levels: The change in season can disrupt natural levels of this hormone which can lead to changes in sleep patterns and mood.
Serotonin levels: Serotonin is another chemical in the brain that affects mood. Decreased sunlight can cause serotonin levels to drop leading to the experience of SAD.
 

Common Symptoms Include:

 
• Depressed mood
• Anxiety
• Loss of energy
• Social withdrawal
• Oversleeping
• Loss of interest in usual activities
• Increased cravings for carbohydrates
• Weight gain
• Difficulty concentrating

Treatment for SAD ranges from natural remedies to prescription medication and psychotherapy. Light therapy or phototherapy is one natural option. Light therapy involves the use of a light box which produces a high-intensity light that mimics outdoor light and appears to change melatonin and serotonin levels in the brain. Use of a light box needs to be individually tailored depending on the severity of one’s symptoms and other factors that should be addressed with your healthcare provider before starting this treatment. Although light therapy is generally considered safe, it can pose dangers for those with retinal disorders or in those taking medications that can cause sensitivity to light.

Other natural therapies include the use of certain herbal supplements. Although you do not need a prescription for these substances, it is still important to consult your healthcare provider before using them, especially if you are already taking other medications. In some cases, you and your healthcare provider may decide to use an antidepressant. Psychotherapy is also an effective treatment option. Although SAD is thought to be related to biochemical changes, your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors affect your mood. Psychotherapy can help you identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors and significantly improve your overall state of health.
 

Conquering the “Winter Blues”

 
Make your environment sunnier and brighter. Open your blinds, add skylights, sit closer to bright windows in your home and office.
Get outside. Take a long walk or simply sit on a bench and soak up the sun, even on cold or cloudy days, outdoor light can help.
Exercise regularly. Physical activity helps relieve stress and anxiety which can increase your symptoms of SAD. Being more fit also improves self-esteem which can boost your mood.
Socialize. Make time to connect with people you enjoy being around. They can offer support and a shoulder to cry on or a joke to laugh at.
Take a trip. If possible, take a vacation in a warm sunny location.

Dec 28th

A Better Recipe for a Better Year

By Tessa Gittleman, LAMFT

Recipe for a better youI don’t know about you, but in my experience with cooking, I’ve historically found that the seemingly easiest recipes are the ones easiest to mess up. Having grown up in the restaurant industry, I learned that this experience was not unique to me, or industry specific. Go to any part of the world, meet with all the best culinary minds, and you will undoubtedly find a chef who practiced making the most basic of dishes (ie: scrambled eggs, pasta, rice) for months before their instructor let them move on, and who still employs the same tactics with their students.

So, a few years back when I stumbled upon a recipe for the Quintessential Recipe of A Year, listed at the bottom of this post, and saw that it was for beginners, I decided to give it a test run. I thought, “I know these ingredients” and “I can do this!” Fast forward roughly 30 attempts, and it turns out, no matter how much practice one has, a year is still a pretty easy thing to mess up. It can be almost like a holiday cookie you’ve made a million times, but still doesn’t look as good as your mom’s, or never turns out how you expected it to.

When I consider that the recipe calls for miscellaneous ingredients to essentially be stewed over a 12-month period, attempting to control for unknown variables, and then physically watch over it the whole time, I realized it was an impossible task. I felt defeated each year, like Sisyphus, unable to distinguish between progress and perfection. Hind-site is always 20/20, after all, and now I am just grateful I didn’t burn down anything letting so much simmer for so long.

The thing that the Quintessential Recipe of a Year has helped me to digest is that: there is no one perfect way for a year to turn out. There are just common elements or ingredients, organized in similar and different ways, we can tailor until it suits us best. For example, while you might prefer ginger-molasses cookies over sugar cookies, both require flour, butter, sugar, and eggs. If someone hadn’t taken the time to master a sugar cookie, or had stopped innovating cookies altogether, a ginger-molasses cookie might never have come along. For 2018, what I hope this recipe gives you is the knowledge that: regardless of your ingredients or the instructions listed on the sheet, there is no one-way to have a great year. You get to keep changing the recipe for success until it fits the way you want it to, for as long as you want it to.

Quintessential Recipe of a Year

Author Unknown
Take 12 whole months.
Clean them thoroughly of all bitterness, hate, and jealousy.
Make them just as fresh and clean as possible.
Cut each month into 28, 30 or 31 different parts,
but don’t make up the whole batch at once.

Prepare one day at a time with these ingredients:
Mix well into each day one part each of faith, patience, courage, and work.
Also add to each day one part of hope, faithfulness, generosity, and kindness.
Blend with one part prayer, one part meditation, and one good deed.
Season the whole with a dash of good spirits, a sprinkle of fun,
a pinch of play and a cupful of good humor.

Pour all of this into a vessel of love.
Cook thoroughly over radiant joy, garnish with a smile and serve with quietness, unselfishness, and cheerfulness. You’re bound to have a happy new year.

Dec 22nd

Happy Holidays!

By The Calli Institute

May your holidays be filled with love, happiness, and peace.

Calli Institute-Wishing You a Happy Holidays

Dec 12th

Five Tips to Keep the Sparkle in your Holiday.

By Kari Lyn S. Wampler, MA, LMFT

Holiday Tips

For many of us, this is the time of year that we look forward to the most. In the midst of our daily routine and monotony we dream of snowflakes, glitter, familiar tunes, red suits and twinkle lights. The season, for us, is loaded with celebration, family, delectable food, and a sense of wonder. Oh how we yearn for the festivities of the holiday season throughout the year.

But in the midst of this splendor, the enormity of the season can take us over. There are so many lists to make, presents to buy, so much money to spend, and gatherings to attend that the sparkle of the holiday season can quickly lose its luster. So, we are faced with the dichotomy of the season, the love of the spirit and the drudgery of the “to do” list. As we strive to strike a balance, here are a few suggestions to help keep the sparkle from fading.

Create a holiday budget.

One of the greatest stressors around this time of year is often money. To help alleviate this stress look realistically at your finances and determine what amount you can allocate to holiday spending. Once you have a dollar amount, figure out what you need to spend money on and allocate amounts for each. For instance, you may decide to spend $75 on new holiday decorations, $30 per gift for friends, $100 per child, etc. Most importantly, stick to the budget you plan. Hold yourself accountable by adding receipts and deducting from a ledger.

Implement Family Ritual.

Much of our holiday joy comes from the traditions we remember implementing year after year. Unfortunately, the busier we are the more likely we are to cut out those traditions. As a family, pick one or two things you want to do every year. Some suggestions could be cutting down a tree, making holiday cookies, caroling or family devotions. Keeping family rituals alive helps us to feel like we are amidst the holiday season, even if we feel busy.

Make a list of what you need to get done and accomplish a few tasks each day.

One of the biggest contributors to holiday stress is the list of things we have to do. To help manage this stress, write something down on a “To Do” list once you think of it. This accomplishes two things: you won’t forget about it, and it gets the ideas out of your head so you won’t think about the same thing over and over again. By assembling a list and getting things down on paper our thoughts are more organized and less stressful to us.

Choose one fun holiday activity to do with family or friends.

There are a million offerings to help us celebrate the season. There are parades, plays, parties, exhibits, concerts, etc. We are bombarded with fabulous things to do and see, making it impossible to partake in every offering. However, if we miss all the opportunities we can be left feeling cheated out of the festivities. Each holiday season, choose a new activity that you want to participate in. Over the course of a few years, you will experience nearly all the season has to offer.

Do something for someone less fortunate.

Finally, give of yourself each holiday season. Maybe that means working at a shelter or helping an elderly neighbor with holiday tasks. It could also mean participating in a gift or food drive with your children or delivering a plate of cookies to someone who is unable to leave their home. Giving back at the time of year when abundance is all around will increase the spirit of the holiday season, bringing to the forefront the blessings we have been given and blessing someone else in return.

The holiday season has arrived. Make the most out of the season and enjoy every possible sparkle. Happy Holidays!

 

 

Nov 28th

Chasing Happiness

By Cathy Malmon, LMFT, LICSW

Chasing HappinessI originally planned on writing a lofty blog piece using quotes by Aristotle, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln (though I still might use some.) After all, isn’t happiness a serious topic? I could cite the World Happiness Report included in the November 2017 issue of National Geographic. I have included it in the references in case you want to wade through it. Oprah has probably written on happiness, and it would be easier to read than the World Happiness Report.

I stumbled on some books that take the seriousness out of the pursuit of happiness, (borrowing from The Declaration of Independence.) The Subtle Art OF Not Giving A Fu*ck, by Mark Manson was shown to me by one of my clients. I like this client (not because of some mutually salty language), and I liked the premise of the book. We are encouraged to embrace our limitations, accept our imperfections, and grow from solving problems. This book is sprinkled liberally with the F__ bomb, but there is a point. Doesn’t a good swear word now and then make us happy?

Manson writes that “Happiness comes from solving problems…  to be happy we need something to solve. Happiness is, therefore, an action; it’s an activity, not something that is passively bestowed on you.”
 

Here comes Aristotle.

He wrote that our supreme good, or happiness, is to lead a life that embraces our ability to reason and that good or bad fortune can play a part in determining our happiness. If we live life to the full, we are bound to be happy. For Aristotle, happiness is a question of behavior and habit, rather than luck. It is an ACTIVITY.

The Happiness Project Or, Why I spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun” by Gretchen Rubin is a funny though well-researched book. Rubin did what I had no interest in doing. She tackled the subject of happiness through a wide lens: religion, philosophy, literature, psychology science, and popular culture. Even a fortune cookie-  “Look for happiness under your own roof.” She developed a set of commandments she chose to live by:
 

TWELVE COMMANDMENTS

1. Be _____________(fill in your own name).
2. Let it go.
3. Act the way you want to feel.
4. Do it now.
5. Be polite and be fair.
6. Enjoy the process.
7. Spend out.
8. Identify the problem.
9. Lighten up.
10. Do what ought to be done.
11. No calculation.
12. There is only love.

 
Then there is Dennis Prager, a nationally syndicated radio host who is known for his conservative, political, and social views. He was asked to provide a talk to a college audience and thought he would be speaking about religion. Instead, he was asked to talk about happiness, which threw him into a ten-year journey of reading, writing, and lecturing about the topic. His book, Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual was published in 1998.

He asserts that the human desire for happiness is as universal as the obstacles…  According to Prager, happiness is a moral obligation, but “does not mean acting unreal…or refraining from honest and intimate expressions of our feelings to those closest to us.” It means to “work on our happiness”.  Happiness is a continuing process of celebrating connections, doing good, counting your blessings, and not taking yourself too seriously. Prager encourages the actions of finding and making friends, not seeing yourself as a victim, and finding meaningful work (paid or non-paid.)
 

What factors into happiness?

Being active, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Meaningful work or life purpose.
Friendships and community engagement.
Being self-compassionate and learning from life’s challenges, not being victimized by them.
Laughter.
Chocolate. (OK I added that one)

 

Folks are usually as happy as they decide to be.” – Abraham Lincoln


References
The Search For Happiness
, National Geographic November 2017
THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A F*UCK, Mark Manson
The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin
Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual, Dennis Prager
Happiness Is, from You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown

 

Nov 23rd

Happy Thanksgiving!

By The Calli Institute

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. Happy Thanksgiving from the team at Calli Institute!

Happy Thanksgiving

Nov 14th

Self-injury: Cutting, Self-Harm or Self-Mutilation

By Wendy Walker, MS, LP

Calli-Institute-Self-Harm-Wordcloud-BlogSelf-injury, also known as cutting, self-harm, or self-mutilation, occurs when someone intentionally and repeatedly harms herself/himself in a way that is impulsive and not intended to be lethal. It can be frightening for a parent to discover that their son or daughter is engaging in this behavior.

Self-harm is rarely a problem that occurs in isolation. It is often a way to manage conflict or distress and a tool to manage emotions that feel unmanageable to an individual. The person may have a difficult time regulating, expressing or understanding their emotions. Adolescents often say they feel empty inside, lonely and unable to express strong emotion.

Self-harm is often hard to detect because it is secretive. Researchers at Cornell University suggest that several signs may indicate self-harm behavior. These include unexplained burns or a cluster of scars or cuts, difficulty handling feelings, relationship problems or avoidance of relationships and poor functioning at work and or school.

Common areas for self-harm are the wrists, fists, and forearms, however any area of the body is possible. Those engaging in such behavior may wear clothing that is inappropriate for the season as they try and conceal the scarring. Also, using heavy wrist bands, bandages or other coverings is common as one tries to conceal their wounds.
 

The following are some forms of self-injury:

 

  • Cutting
  • Scratching
  • Burns (using matches, cigarettes or hot sharp objects such as knives)
  • Carving words
  • Hitting or punching
  • Piercing the skin with sharp objects
  • Pulling out hair
  • Persistent picking designed to interfere with wound healing
  • Breaking bones
  • Drinking something harmful

Persons who engage in self-harm are more likely to be highly self-critical and poor problem solvers. Age is one of the biggest risk factors for self-injury, with teens and young adults being at a greater risk. According to Mental Health America, research indicates that self-injury occurs in approximately 4% of adults in the United States and 15% of teens with an even higher risk existing for college age students. Other risk factors include; friends who self-harm, being neglected or abused (sexually, physically or emotionally) and persons who question their personal identity or sexuality.

There is no sure way to prevent a loved one from self-injury. Reducing the risk involves individuals and communities including parents, schools, medical professionals, co-workers and coaches working together and communicating openly about what they are seeing.
 

  • Offer help. Those at risk can be taught alternative coping skills and to rely on their own strength and resilience.
  • Encourage expansion of social networks. Many people who engage in self-harm often express feeling lonely and disconnected. Forming connections and improving relationships can help decrease the disconnection.
  • Raise Awareness. Adults, especially those that work with children, should be educated about the warning signs. Group discussions and educational programs can be helpful in raising awareness.

If someone you know is engaging in self-injury consult a mental health professional that has expertise in this area to obtain an evaluation or assessment, followed by a recommended course of treatment to prevent the cycle from continuing.

S.A.F.E. Alternatives (Self-Abuse Finally Ends)
Information Line: 1-800-DONT CUT or 1-800-366-8288
www.selfinjury.com

 

Oct 31st

Children and The Good Divorce

By Jennifer Tagg, MA, LMFT

The Good Divorce. Is this some literary example of an oxymoron or a new way to think about a common dynamic in some relationships? It’s probably fair to say that couples don’t go into their marriage vows with some clause that says, “Till death do us part, but if we do realize that this relationship isn’t healthy for us, let’s at least decide to have a healthy divorce.” Perhaps this is one of those ideas thats easier said than done; however, I would challenge that if you aren’t saying it, considering it, or envisioning what a good divorce could look like, you’re probably less likely to experience one.

Divorce is filled with dynamics that couples will have to work through (effective communication, agreement on financial issues, etc.) which ironically may have led to them seeking the divorce in the first place. A common point of struggle for couples considering divorce is how it will affect their children. If the question is whether to stay married for the children or get divorced for the children, you may be asking the wrong question. Perhaps an alternative question is how can we have a healthy relationship for our children and with our children? This is what you want to model; this is what you want your children to experience. Asking this question may be a good place to start in answering the dilemma of how to have a good divorce.

Consider the following taken from http://www.emeryondivorce.com/childrens_bill_of_rights_in_divorce.php 
 

The Children’s Bill of Rights in Divorce

Every child whose parents divorce has:

1. The right to love and be loved by both of your parents without feeling guilt or disapproval.
2. The right to be protected from your parents’ anger with each other.
3. The right to be kept out of the middle of your parents’ conflict, including the right not to pick sides, carry messages, or hear complaints about the other parent.
4. The right not to have to choose one of your parents over the other.
5. The right not to have to be responsible for the burden of either of your parents’ emotional problems.
6. The right to know well in advance about important changes that will affect your life; for example, when one of your parents is going to move or get remarried.
7. The right to reasonable financial support during your childhood and through your college years.
8.The right to have feelings, to express your feelings, and to have both parents listen to how you feel.
9.The right to have a life that is a close as possible to what it would have been if your parents stayed together.
10.The right to be a kid.

Divorce is often a trying experience highlighting many differences with a partner you once may have been very aligned with. Working to find alignment, even in the slightest of ways, can be a starting point for working through conflicts that arise. Allowing your children to be a point of alignment and staying focused on their needs and rights can be a beacon toward a healthy way of being–a good divorce.

 

Oct 17th

Let’s Talk About It!

By Cathy Malmon, LMFT, LICSW

Sexual-Health-Calli-Institute-Couple-sitting-on-bedThis is the slogan that World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) uses for World Sexual Health Day, which is celebrated every September 4.Historically there was a fair amount of shame, discomfort, and stigma in discussing sexual issues. Sexual health only addressed disease and unwanted sexual outcomes. In 1975 the World Health Organization (WHO) developed and published a definition that went beyond the focus on the absence of disease or unwanted sexual outcomes.

 

Sexual health is the integration of the somatic, emotional, intellectual and social aspects of sexual being, in ways that are positively enriching and that enhance personality communication and love.” –WHO, 1975

Thinking about sexual health as something to enhance communication as well as being positively enriching was new. World organizations followed with definitions that added to the WHO definition. The Pan American Health Organization and the World Association of Sexology (WAS/now the World Association for Sexual Health) provided a longer version. In part:

Sexual health is the experience of the ongoing process of physical, psychological and social-cultural well being related to sexuality. Sexual health is evidenced in the free and responsible expressions of sexual capabilities that foster harmonious personal and social wellness, enriching individual and social life.” WAS/Pan American Health Organization

The American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) is an organization that had its inception during the social hygiene in the twentieth century. At that time venereal disease (VD) or what we now call sexually transmitted diseases or infections (STDs/STIs) was a prevalent concern for social health organizations. Sexuality was not considered an acceptable topic to discuss in the prevailing Victorian attitudes. Early work of ASHA concentrated on education and awareness among the armed forces. As ASHA developed it expanded its efforts to network with organizations like Federal Council of Churches, White House Conference on Child Health and Protection, National Organization of Public Health Nursing, National Congress of Parents and Teachers. Education and public awareness of sexual issues began to be more openly discussed.

The Kinsey reports published in 1948 and 1954 created controversy on a national level. ASHA organized a national conference that brought together leaders in the field of psychology, medicine, law, religion, anthropology, education, sociology, and law to exchange views about the significance of Kinsey’s information. The goal was to look at the information as scientific data rather than pornography. Walter Clark, ASHA president from 1937 to 1951 commented, “The truth never harms…And it seems reasonable to hope that when today’s older generation, conditioned against frankness in sex matters passes away and today’s youth takes over tomorrow’s world, the truth about sex shall indeed make them free- free of the diseases, the exploitation, the ignorance and superstitions which for ages have burdened and blighted society.

Fast forward to 2006 and beyond. WHO broadened their definition of sexual health to include statements that addressed human rights safety, violence, or coercion free sex, sexuality expression and gender identities.

In 2013 the American Association of Sexuality, Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) revised their vision of sexual health. The Vision of Sexual Health affirmed the rights to:
 

  • Freedom of their sexual thoughts, feelings and fantasies
  • Freedom to engage in healthy modes of sexual activity, including both self-pleasuring and consensually share-pleasuring
  • Freedom to exercise behavioral, emotional, economic, and social responsibility for their bodily functioning, their sexual liaisons, and their chosen mode of loving, working, and playing.
  • AASECT believes that these rights pertain to all peoples whatever their age, family structure, backgrounds, beliefs, and circumstances, including those who are disadvantaged, specially challenged, ill or impaired.

The World Association of Sexual Health (WAS) is a multidisciplinary, worldwide group of scientific societies, non-profit and professionals in the field of human sexuality. Their Declaration of Sexual Rights was revised in 2014. These sexual rights address diversity, freedom to choose sexual expression, equality and non-discrimination, privacy and rights to education, scientific progress, justice, rights to form, dissolve marriage and other types of relationships.

Modern society has an opportunity to embrace sexual health in a manner not seen before. It starts simply.
 

LET’S TALK ABOUT IT!

 

  • IT is sexual activity.
  • IT is sexuality.
  • IT is reproduction
  • IT is communication and connection on a physical, spiritual, and emotional level.
  • IT is pleasure.
  • IT is free from exploitation, discrimination violence, and bias.
  • IT is possible for every age, every gender, orientation, body type and physical condition.
  • IT is OK to talk about.

Resources

World Health Organization (WHO), 1975 and 2006 www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/sexual_health/sh_definitions
World Association for Sexual Health (WAS)
www.worldsexology.org.resources/sexual
American Sexual Health Association (ASHA)
www.ashasexualhealth.org
American Association of Sexuality, Educators, Counselors, and Therapists Revised by AASECT Board of Directors January 2013
www.aasect.org/vision-sexual-health

 

Oct 3rd

Happy 25th Anniversary, World Mental Health Day!

By Tessa Gittleman, LAMFT

Calli-Institute-World-Mental-Health-DayOn October 10th, 2017, everyone from mental health practitioners to national governments are encouraged to #LightUpPurple and celebrate World Mental Health Day. Founded in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), World Mental Health Day has the singular mission of improving the quality of mental health services around the globe. In order to accomplish this goal across 96 different countries, WFMH thought it best to focus on highlighting a singular issue that is relevant to every citizen of the world. The theme for 2017 is: Mental Health in the Work Place.

In our practice, we often hear client’s report feelings of being overwhelmed by the seemingly boundless increase of stress in one’s life due (or related) to work. This is not unique to Minnesotans. According to the WFMH statistics, 1 in 5 people in the workplace struggle with a mental health condition. These mental health conditions, when left untreated, can take an immense toll on an organization’s overall productivity and environment, as well as the individual’s overall health and wellbeing.

Globally, the WFMH projects that work related stress directly and indirectly costs governments, not including any value assigned to the individual’s suffering. For example, the contribution of mental health disorders to the overall cost of disability pensions in Germany has tripled over the last 20 years. Indirectly, mental health conditions, especially those related to stress, have been proven to increase risk of cardio-vascular, muscular-skeletal, and chronic health conditions that cost the individual, the employer, and the government more and more money each year. While most research has focused on the impact of mental health in high-income countries, such as the U.S., it is estimated that there are even more people with mental health issues living in lower and middle-income countries. Having fewer resources to overcome mental health conditions, the individual and the nation unfortunately remain stuck.

Today we encourage you to do an internal assessment of your work-life balance. Are you struggling with chronic stress to a point where it is affecting you mentally or physically? Do you know someone who could use a little extra support in that arena? Do you believe that workplaces both here and abroad should do more to support mental health concerns? If you answered, “yes” to any question, we highly encourage you to #LightUpPurple, and celebrate World Mental Health Day Oct. 10th, 2017.

If you would like to learn more about World Mental Health Day, please click here or visit: https://www.wfmh.global/wmhd-2017/ 

 

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