May 16th

National Women’s Health Week

By The Calli Institute

nwhw_infographic-mental-healthThe 18th Annual National Women’s Health Week is May 14-20, 2017. Beginning every year on Mother’s Day and led by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Women’s Health, the week brings awareness to a very important topic. It’s not uncommon for women to spend most of their time and energy taking care of the people around them, and therefore neglect or disregard their own needs. The goal of Women’s Health Week is to empower women to prioritize their own health and wellbeing and to take action for improvement.

Here are some recommended steps women can take during Women’s Health Week – or any time during the year:

 

  • Schedule a well-woman check-up or preventive screenings. Stay up-to-date on vaccinations and review your prescription or over-the-counter medication usage.
  • Understand your family health history and assess your risk for certain conditions, especially cancer.
  • Get moving with at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
  • Choose healthy food options. If overweight or obese, commit to reach and maintain a healthy weight with a doctor-approved weight loss and fitness plan.
  • Avoid unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, excess alcohol consumption, or texting while driving.
  • Pay attention to your mental health.

 

Mental Health Matters

Each year, one in five women experiences a mental health issue such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or eating disorder. Mental health is a critical component of overall health, and the connection between mental health and physical health cannot be emphasized enough. It’s important to get enough sleep and manage stress in healthy ways. Take time for yourself and do things that you enjoy.

Learn more about the connection between stress and your health.

Contact a mental health professional if you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns. Calli Institute offers individual therapy services to address a vast number of mental health and wellbeing issues, many of which affect physical health.

No matter your age or your current health level, it’s never too late to take steps toward a healthier you. Take time during this year’s National Women’s Health Week to focus on yourself and prioritize your health. Contact Calli Institute today to see how we can help.

 

 

May 2nd

The Challenge of Children’s Mental Health

By Cathy Malmon, LMFT, LICSW

Childrens_Mental_Health_Awareness_Calli_Institute_Maple_Grove_MNI grew up in an era (the 50’s and 60’s) when mental health was not discussed at all, let alone considered as something that children had. Children could have separation anxiety; nervous stomachs, concentration problems or were labeled as “sensitive”, “angry” or “different”.

Adolescence was supposed to be somewhat difficult and the behaviors we now see as potential symptoms of mood, anxiety, or thought disorders were not viewed through the lens of mental health. Behaviors were seen as problems not as symptoms of underlying issues. The pediatrician was often the only first line of mental health assessment.

Children and teens can and do experience intense emotions. It is normal to feel sad or anxious about school, family, and friendships. Body changes, hormonal changes, physiological changes can contribute to fluctuating moods. Mental health disorders are different in the persistence, duration, and intensity of the symptoms.

Research has indicated that most mental health disorders follow a developmental course and some signs can be seen before adulthood. Many adults who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, social anxiety, schizophrenia, autism, and bipolar disorder showed signs before they were 24 years old (National Institute of Mental Health).

The American Psychological Association (APA) website noted:
“An estimated 15 million of our nation’s young children can currently be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Many more are at risk of developing a disorder due to risk factors in their biology or genetics; within their families, schools and communities; and among their peers”.

Life for our children is very different than it was decades ago. The complexion of families has changed. It is not unusual for children to be dealing with the transition of parental divorce, changes in schools, and home, physical or mental changes in loved ones and economic changes.

Technology and the explosion of social media sites mean that our children might be spending more time with friends on a screen rather than in face-to-face contact. Loneliness and isolation do not make good companions. Notice if your child or loved one seems to be spending more time alone.

What should Parents or Caregivers look for?

• Feeling sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks
• Self-injurious, risky behavior, getting into fights, wanting to hurt others
• Suicidal thoughts, comments about being better off dead, suicide attempts
• Showing extremes in behavior, i.e. sleeping, eating,
• Extremes in dieting, exercise, use of laxatives, extreme focus on food, calories
• Intense worries or fears that interfere with daily functioning
• Use of drugs or alcohol
• Drastic changes in behavior, personality
• ANY BEHAVIOR THAT CAUSES CONCERN

Don’t be afraid to be direct if you have concerns.
• I’m worried about you.
• How are you feeling about ___________?
• Can we talk about this or would you feel more comfortable talking to someone else?
• Can you tell me if you have thoughts about harming yourself or others?
• I have seen changes in you that worry me. (Be direct, loving and specific)
• I might not understand but I want to listen to you.

Some online resources include:
www.mentalhealth.gov
www.healthychildren.org
www.nationalinstituteofmentalhealth.org
www.bringchange2mind.org

Talk to each other, talk to your child or the child in your life.

Apr 25th

An Extraordinary Gift

By The Calli Institute

 

April is National Autism Awareness Month, a nationwide effort to promote autism awareness, acceptance, and inclusion. Tens of thousands of individuals in our country face an autism diagnosis each year, and while autism itself is widespread, public awareness is not.

In celebration of the 2017 National Autism Awareness Month, we’d like to share the video below. Faith Jegede Cole is a British writer, speaker, and researcher who currently lives in Washington, D.C. She spreads awareness and understanding of the increasingly common autism diagnosis by speaking about her experiences growing up with two autistic brothers.

In this talk from the April 2012 TED Talent Search at TED London, Jegede introduces her extraordinary brothers – Remi, who is 22, does not speak, and loves unconditionally; and 16-year-old Samuel, a handsome boy with an impeccable, detailed memory. While each is very different from the other, both have been diagnosed with autism. And while the world may view her brothers as not ordinary, Jegede sees that her brothers are extraordinary. She reminds the audience that everyone has a gift, that everyone is extraordinary, and challenges us to use that potential for greatness.

 


 

For more information on National Autism Awareness Month, visit the Autism Society.

Apr 11th

Stress Awareness Month

By The Calli Institute

Stress-Awareness-MonthApril is Stress Awareness Month. We’ve all experienced stress at one time or another – it’s a natural, normal response to life’s demanding situations. What is stressful to one person may not bother another in the least, and stress can manifest itself in many ways. Stress impacts individuals differently. Effects of stress vary in intensity and can be physical, physiological, or psychological.

Stress can cause of a number of issues, including the following:

 

  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Health problems, frequent or chronic illnesses, high blood pressure, or headaches
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Irritability, anger, or mood swings
  • Insomnia or changes in sleep patterns
  • Appetite changes

Since 1992, health care professionals and health promotion experts across the country have joined forces during the month of April to increase public awareness about the topics of stress and stress management. During Stress Awareness Month, additional attention is given to available resources and materials for reducing and managing stress.

Experts agree that it’s important to understand what causes you stress so that you are effectively able to manage it. Recognizing which people, places, or situations trigger higher stress levels is critical. Once you’ve identified which situations cause you to respond in a way that can be identified as stress, you’re able to employ activities and routines to decrease or eliminate the negative effects of the event.

For example, if you know that public speaking causes stress, you can take extra steps to prepare for a public speaking event, such as practicing in front of a small audience. Or you could meditate just before the event begins.

Not all stress is bad, and it’s important to know the difference between negative stress and positive stress. There can be benefits to experiencing stress, including bursts of energy, increased productivity, and motivation to complete projects or work toward goals.

In addition, it’s important to celebrate your successes with stress management. Perhaps you’ve started a new routine of daily meditation, yoga or other exercise, or other relaxation techniques to help decrease your stress levels. It’s also critical to remember not to be too hard on yourself. Setting realistic goals and having realistic expectations is also an important part of stress management.

We will all have certain levels of stress in our lives. Take some time during Stress Awareness Month to examine the role that stress plays in your life and what steps you can take to better manage it.

Mar 8th

What’s Wrong with Self-Esteem?

By Cathy Malmon, LMFT, LICSW

Man using scissors to remove the word can't to read I can do it concept for self belief, positive attitude and  motivation

The short answer is nothing. Many clients identify increasing self-esteem as a goal or identify having low self-esteem as a problem. There are literally hundreds of books about self-esteem on the market. The offerings include workbooks, audiotapes, and self-esteem books for teens, adults, women, and even “Self-Esteem For Dummies”. How elusive is self-esteem that we need a Cliff’s Notes version to get?

 

So if we have to raise, get or increase self-esteem, the goal then is to set the standard of self-esteem against the standard of others who appear to have it. We measure our self-esteem “weight” much like we do the scale, in terms of losing, gaining or being imperfect. We ignore the very thing that makes us human.

 

Self-compassion. To be compassionate with the face in the mirror would mean we could be human, imperfect, and fallible. That inner critical voice would be less punishing, more loving, and unconditional. Self-compassion would mean that we would understand that to be human is to be imperfect and that very humanness connects us to others. Kristin Neff, PH.D has studied the science of self-compassion. In her book, Self Compassion (William Morrow, 2011), she writes that there are three components to self-compassion:

 

  • Self-Kindness Being kind to ourselves rather than judgmental
  • Recognition of Our Common Humanity Feeling connected with others rather than feeling isolated
  • Mindfulness Being aware of our pain but not exaggerating or ignoring

 

Self-compassion is treating ourselves the way we would treat a good friend. What better friend to have than ourselves?

 

“Self compassion is simply giving ourselves the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others” Christopher Germer

Mar 1st

The Manly Man Crisis

By Bennett Jones, MSW, LICSW

Unrecognizable man taking dumbbells in a gym

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been increasingly mindful of the avalanche of information coming from all media-types about weight-loss, in light of New Year’s resolutions. As I thought about ways to describe this phenomenon, of information overload, avalanche seemed suitable as it’s described as, “…a sudden arrival or occurrence of something in overwhelming quantities”.

Not surprisingly, body-image isn’t always first thought on our list when we catch up with friends. While authentic conversations about how we feel inside our bodies aren’t priorities, the passive messages seem to barge their way into every part of our lives. Has there been any conversation around your office about “being good”, which is some indication that refraining from eating the birthday cake brought to celebrate a colleagues special day is a sort of moral victory.

The unfortunate thing, is as small as these messages seem, they can have an almost instant impact on our lives and experiences. While it’s normative for us to all feel insecurities with our bodies or habits, guilt and shame have no role in how we should be interacting with food. If we think of guilt being a feeling that “I did something bad”, shame could be translated as a sense of, “I am bad”. When guilt becomes shame, it drives us, as people, farther and farther away from each other. A scholar and researcher on shame (perfectionism, authenticity, other topics)Brene Brown, defines it this way, “…the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection”. That’s not the way we want our co-workers to feel, is it?

There is a billion dollar industry that is fed by our insecurities, which no longer affects women alone. In my light reading on the subject of body-image issues, I came across alarming statistics. A TODAY /AOL survey, highlighted by Melissa Dahl, indicated that men spend more time in a given day worrying about their appearance than their health, families or career success (2014). In the same survey results, 63% of men said they always feel like they could lose weight, 41% worry others will judge their appearance and 44% of men feel uncomfortable wearing swim suits.

With the unrealistic images being perpetuated by our culture, it is no surprise men would feel like they don’t measure up. Big muscle dudes that spend 5-6 hours at the gym and eat meticulously strict diets, are lining our magazine shelves. I try to use humor to highlight the disparaging messages men are covertly exposed to in pop-culture, noting something like, “that dude’s biceps are bigger than my head!”. You may have heard stats on the unrealistic expectations set by the body-shape of the classic Barbie. I find it empowering to realize that it is not a problem affecting only one gender, race, ethnicity or culture.

What can be done about all this? Well, I believe we all need to be part of creating a body-positive culture. We all have talents and we all have words. Use yours to lift up, not put down. Consider how realistic some of the images we see are, with regard to body image. Remember that there is an industry is counting on our insecurities and don’t be afraid to talk about these things with friends. I think you’ll be surprised how common these experiences are.

References:

“Avalanche.” Dictionary.com. N.p., n.d. Web. Jan.-Feb. 2017
Dahl, M. (2014, February)Six-pack stress: Men worry more about their appearance than their jobs. TODAY. Retrieved from
http://www.today.com/health/six-pack-stress-men-worry-more-about-their-appearance-their-2D12117283

Feb 14th

Be Your Own Valentine

By The Calli Institute

Calli-valentinesdayThe original meaning of Valentine’s Day has nothing to do with the now traditional customs of sending flowers, cards and candy. It had more to do with an early saint called Valentinus who was imprisoned and tortured. The history behind this day is an interesting read but not exactly the stuff of Hallmark and Godiva Chocolate.

What if you are one of the many (though it might not seem so) for whom the advertising, marking and celebration of Valentine’s Day seems like a cruel joke? The advertising of Valentine’s Day starts early and it is difficult not to assume that everyone you know is probably sending pounds of chocolate, trucks of flowers and that one special card. For those who are not in a romantic relationship or who are in relationships that are sour, here are some tips for getting through the holiday.

 

  • Buy yourself some chocolate, flowers, or a plant. There are reported health benefits of both. Buying them after February 14 will also be cheaper. Health benefits at a fraction of the cost!
  • Find a way to move, laugh, and get some fresh air. Both exercise and laughter have proven positive impact on mood.
  • Spend time with people you love. Love comes in all shapes, forms, and connections. Love is Love is Love.
  • Go out of your way to do something unexpected for someone. Give yourself the gift of helping and receive a smile in return.
  • Get your female or male friends together to make dinner, see a movie, or cook something new. Staying in can be the new going out.
  • Pamper yourself.
  • Don’t compare yourself to the “others” you think are having a better time than you. You have no way of knowing how they are really getting along.
  • Remember that Valentine’s Day is one day and love can start with you.

Jan 24th

Vulnerability Resolution

By The Calli Institute

January, a time when most of us look for new beginnings. A time when we reflect upon the past year and resolve to change some aspect of our lives. In fact, according to statisticbrain.com, typically 41% of Americans make a New Year’s Resolution.

The most common resolutions are:

  • lose weight
  • get healthy
  • quit smoking/drinking
  • exercise
  • improve finances
  • find a better job

When I looked at this list, it occurred to me that each one of these are measurable goals! These resolutions appeal to most of us because we can easily gauge our success. You either lost the weight or you didn’t, pretty simple, right?

As I think about all of this, of course, these measurable goals are most appealing to me as well. I like being able to control, predict, and then quantify results. But then, I realized that these are resolutions that I have attempted many, many times before in my life, all with similar results. When I look back, am I really a better person as a result of any of these resolutions that I set for myself?

This year, I decided I wanted to challenge myself to look at something new, something that will really impact change in me for 2017. I had heard about Bene Brown and her Ted Talk segment on Vulnerability. I decided to watch for myself to see if it inspired me to try something new, something different. I encourage you to watch this video as well. This 20-minute video challenges each of us to let down our guard, get a little uncomfortable, in order to achieve real growth in 2017.

Enjoy!

Jan 1st

Happy New Year!

By The Calli Institute

17392_calliinstitute_newyears_800x800Happy New Year! Here we are again, wrapping up another trip around the sun. As with any year, 2016 brought moments of happiness, hope and peace, along with violence and tragedy. This past year has been a bit of a bumpy ride for many, likely changing each of us, even if just a little bit.

With any passage of time, life and experience impacts us in ways that make change inevitable, good or bad. We can’t control how these experiences affect us, we can certainly learn from them.

The Calli Institute hopes that the many joys and blessings of 2016 stay with you, inspiring everyone to be positive and kind. We’re also hoping that the events of this year have taught everyone to be more mindful and tolerant of the world around us. By recognizing differences, those differences will be honored, encouraging mutual respect for all.

As we enter 2017, The Calli Institute is sending positive thoughts to everyone! Positive change starts with each of us. Take time to be good to yourself, so that you can be good to others. Reflect on what is important to you. Embrace your strengths. Celebrate the positive. Choose kindness. Lead with tolerance. Remember that goodness is incredibly powerful. It can be contagious. We are challenging you to focus on your personal well-being and let your light shine this year!

Dec 27th

Pay it Forward

By Cathy Malmon, LMFT, LICSW

17392_calli-institute_payitforward2I remember seeing the movie Pay It Forward, starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment, in 2000. The movie plot and book, by the same name, was based on this one premise…do something for 3 people in response to a favor or gift that one receives. Those three people will then help three other people and the positive impact will increase geometrically.

The concept is not new, but it might be one that could be dusted off and remembered as the conclusion of 2016 approaches. Earlier contributions to this concept can be found in different places and times throughout history. Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to Benjamin Webb dated April 25, 1784, wrote, “I do not pretend to give such a deed. I only lend it to you. When you…meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation…I hope it may thus go thro ’many hands…”

The term “pay it forward” was coined by Lily Hardy Hammond in 1916 (In the Garden of Delight). She wrote, “You don’t pay love back; you pay it forward.” In 1944, an anonymous spokesman for Alcoholics Anonymous also wrote (Christian Science Monitor), “You can’t pay anyone back for what has happened to you, so you try to find someone you can pay it forward.”

Other important mentions include:

  • Robert Heinlein (Between Planets, 1951), who preached the pay it forward philosophy and developed the Heinlein Society, a humanitarian organization.
  • Ray Bradbury, who has made it a practice of helping other young writers, as he himself was helped.
  • The Pay It Forward Movement and Foundation, founded in the United States, has distributed over a million bracelets in over 100 countries.
  • International Pay it Forward Day,founded in Australia in 2007 by Blake Beattie, has inspired an estimated 5 million plus acts of kindness worldwide.

In a world that has become increasingly complex, divided, too technical and fast paced, we need to get back to the basics. I believe that finding the heart and soul in simple random acts of kindness can spread more goodwill than the promises we make to ourselves on the first of each year.

I propose for the coming year that we give ourselves the gift of kindness and PAY IT FORWARD.

Happy and Peaceful Holiday Season.

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