Bridget Hochman designed this year’s logo for the Mental Wellness Center’s annual Art Festival. The logo has summer vibes with beautiful florals. The strong and inspiring word HOPE is placed on a deep ocean blue background.
The art festival is a place where individuals living with mental illness can come and present their work for exhibit and for sale to the Santa Barbara community. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday and a wonderful opportunity to buy with a purpose. The festival is planned by Darcy Keep and hosted by the Mental Wellness Center.
Bridget has been drawing since a young child using whatever art supplies were available. “My first watercolor painting was of the gazebo at Alice Keck Park. I actually sat on a bench at the park and painted it outdoors, but now I prefer to work inside and use photos of my subject matter as a reference.” When asked what her style is she replied, “My style is a combination of watercolor and digital; I always scan my paintings into the computer and work on them with Photoshop.”
At the art festival you will find a variety of art from jewelry, drawings, greeting cards, greenery arrangements, sculptures and more! The day is full of smiles, inspiration, and a sense of accomplishment. For many of the artists creativity has been an instrumental outlet for their health. “I have always been very shy and creating art has given me a way to express myself. I chose watercolor because it is challenging and I love the transparent quality of the paint on the watercolor paper. Watercolor has also taught me patience because I must wait for the paint to completely dry before painting a new section,” expresses Bridget.
The art festival is a positive way for individuals with a mental illness to integrate with the Santa Barbara Community.
As Santa Barbara County is recovering from natural disasters this year’s natural disasters, hope is vitally important and a perfect theme for the festival. Bridget says “I chose the word “HOPE” because I wanted people in our community to feel hopeful for the future after the Thomas Fire and mudslides in Montecito. I decided to make the letters big enough so that I could put an image inside each letter. For the first three images I chose plants native to this area: palm trees, a sunflower, and a bird of paradise. For the last image I chose white candles to remember those we have lost. The white candles can also symbolize healing and new beginnings. I chose to make the background different shades of blue, colors that reminded me of the ocean.”
In the recent weeks in the U.S. it seems we are reminded of this statement over and over again, “You Matter.” It’s unfortunate that it comes as a result of several tragedies. Mental illness doesn’t often show up on the outside, like a wound on your body. Rather it’s an, at times, extremely challenging inner struggle that we have to find coping strategies to work through. My hope is that the publicity around this statement: “You Matter,” begins to make a difference in the way that we begin talking about our inner struggles and mental health. We shouldn’t need deep sad circumstances to remind us that we all matter. It's important to understand where we are, how we are feeling and when it may be time to seek help from others.
Begin with our own self-awareness; regular check-ins need to be a part of everyone's life. If we don’t have a baseline understanding of who we are, we will not know what to compare it to when something feels “off” within us. So check in. Have an understanding of who you are, where you are, and where you’re going. Have knowledge of what brings you joy and what gets under your skin. Take good care of your body, exercise, drink water, eat colorful food and get good sleep. Recognize when you might need more of something and when you need to hold off.
There are times when we may need more than self-awareness and support. When we feel we may need the help of a professional. This can be in a form of a local support group, doctor or therapist. Recognizing when the issue we are facing may be more than we, and our supports, can handle can be, an overwhelming and very vulnerable process. Even the thoughts and feelings that ensue when you realize that you may need help can be heavy. Once you overcome some of the fear and take action, and see a professional, you will feel better!
For some, there is a question of: “how will I know when I may need the help of a professional?” The feeling of being stuck is often a time we seek professional help. Stuck in a feeling that avenues you have tried thus far have not worked. There are some people that have a feeling of being lost and unsure of the direction they want to take or help they need.
Take care of yourself, find value in who you are and what you bring to this world. My hope for you is that you see all of the amazing qualities you DO have and the wonderful path you on are. And please don’t forget...YOU MATTER!
Danielle Riele, MA
The definition of pursue is to follow someone or something in order to catch them. In my relationships I may play the role of the pursuer or the one being pursued. These roles change as do the players.
Example one: Throughout my 39 years of marriage (yup, 39 years!), there have been times when I have focused, like a laser, my amorous attentions on my husband. This has happened when I have perceived we were floating apart (distancing). My courtship may include preparing special meals for him, making myself more available for walks, or simply sending him short texts, just letting him know he is in my thoughts. All these actions to move towards him are usually well received, and don’t cause him to move away. What may occur in a relationship is that one of the partners may get burned out constantly being the pursuer. When this happens, the other partner may panic and become the pursuer (change in roles). Hopefully, there is something left of the relationship to salvage. This could happen in friendships.
Example two: When my youngest son was 15 years old and we were in the midst of supporting our older son through difficulties with his mental health, my youngest son began running away. He was searching for normalcy outside our household. He would run away, my husband and I would track him down, and we would bring him back. This happened several times. We were the pursuers and he was being pursued. What we recognized was that while we were chasing him, he was running – moving away from us. We were advised to let him go. I gave him information on homeless resources in our community, I even helped him explore the process of emancipation at age 16. I helped him pack a duffle bag. We hugged him and let him go. I am happy to report that he returned to us three weeks later (one of the longest three weeks of our lives) and never ran away again.
Much later, I acquired knowledge concerning the dance of pursuit and distancing. When we move towards someone with purpose, we pursue. That person may not welcome our pursuit and will turn away and flee in the opposite direction. To continue pursuit just increases the distance between the two people. If you stop pursuing, it gives the person a chance to stop, turn around, and interact. I also learned that in some situations, being the pursuer gives you power while being the pursued takes power away. I can see this fitting my situation with my son. While I was pursuing my son, my power was giving me the sense of control. My son experienced a sense of lack of control; he felt trapped.
This lesson has helped me in all my relationships and I hope you find it useful in yours. If you want to read more about pursuit and distancing in relationships, see the blog published by The Gottman Institute titled: A research-based approach to relationships
How to Help Your Teen Manage Their School-Related Stress
The most challenging obstacle for teens is school-related stress. They have to balance a social life, stay on top of their academics, and take care of themselves - all at the same time! Without a doubt, this will be incredibly overwhelming for them. As parents, we can support them by giving them the tools and strategies to efficiently manage their stress.
This is how to help your teens manage their school-related stress:
Assist them with time-management their tasks
Efficiently time-management is a necessary skill all teens must implement into their schedules. Since there are so many responsibilities and obligations on a teen’s to do list, learning how to prioritize their most important task and complete assignments within an allocated amount of time increases their productivity. Otherwise, a lack of time-management in one’s day will put a teen in a constant state of stress and anxiety.
Remind them to commit to daily self-care
During the school year, academics are at the forefront of a teen’s mind and everything else, including self-care, will most likely be put on the back burner. Remind your teen that despite having school work as their main priority, their self-care should never be neglected. They should deliberately take action every day to cultivate their emotional, mental, and physical well-being. The most basic methods of self-care include eating three solid meals a day, showering, maintaining personal hygiene and grooming habits, and getting an adequate amount of sleep every night.
Open the floor for discussion over their concerns
Sometimes, all teens need when they’re stressed is for someone to lend an open ear so they can voice their concerns and feelings. As a parent, we can act as that supportive person that can validate them. To do that, we need to offer them the chance to speak freely and vent about whatever is on their mind. During this time, we don’t necessarily need to give our teen advice or an opinion. The majority of the time, a teenagers just want to be heard and understood. You can also direct your teens to other modes of communication, such as pointing out their friends can also act as emotional support and professional help is always available if they need it as well.
Encourage them to dedicate time to their passions
What activity makes your teen feel fulfilled and happy? Encourage them to invest time into their hobbies and passions in conjunction with studying and completing school work. Sometimes, for teens, one of the best ways to cope with stress is by winding down in solitude, retreating into a relaxing mental space, and directing their focus to an activity that temporarily distracts them from their stress. Plus, their hobbies and passions can act as incentives after they finish their homework.
Emphasize that they should avoid harmful coping mechanisms
Some coping methods have the ability to be harmful without teens even realizing it, such as abusing substances like drugs and alcohol. What may appear to be a temporary escape that numbs their stress or takes their mind off things can have long-term consequences on their health. Teen addiction is one of the most prominent concerns in the U.S.! Take a moment to educate them on what harmful coping mechanisms are and the ramifications of engaging in them. However, end with directing them towards healthy coping strategies that will only be helpful rather than harmful to them.
In reality, teens endure a lot of stress and feel pressured to have everything together! As parents, we should be their main support system - because as long as teens get the support they need and learn to cope with their stress in a healthy matter, they will only continuously move forward, thrive in their academic career, and maintain their emotional and physical well-being.
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The Happiness in your life depends on the quality of your thoughts
Sometimes we all need an attitude makeover. If you believe like I do your thoughts are incredibly powerful then you may want to try some things to improve the quality of your thoughts.
It’s not easy to think positive, life is challenging at times especially while dealing with mental health issues. Just like learning a new language or taking up the piano, it takes practice to train your thoughts. I’m going to share some “positive interrupts” for you to use while you work on thought training.
Some people are lactose intolerant, think of yourself as negativity intolerant. Negative thoughts are going to cause problems. When you have thoughts you want to change interrupt them with some of the suggestions below.
★ Even bad days have happy moments. Look for them.
★ View your tormentors as your mentors. Everyone has a lesson to teach us.
★ Angry thoughts make a mind messy.
★ Accept what was and what is and you’ll free up positive energy for what will be.
★ Peace and happiness are found now, we cannot have a better yesterday and tomorrow can wait.
★ Worry distracts and it attracts things you don’t want. Let go of all worry.
★ Exercise your heart by being kind to others.
★ Instead of “what was I thinking” ask “what was I learning”? No beat ups!
★ What you think about is what you attract, think about progress, peace, joy and happiness.
You have the power to improve your level of happiness and it begins with your thoughts.
Mari RNC BSN
Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse
We have all experienced a time when we are interacting with someone and they begin telling us how terrible we are, or they beginning slinging vile words at us. Whatever the reason, the result is draining on the recipient of this negative delivery.
I learned this tip from a retired therapist and have shared it with family members in my support groups. It is the “magic dome.” When insults are being hurled at me, I try to remember to pull up the magic dome and stop those words from penetrating my space of well-being. The dome allows me to take time to reflect on what is being hurled at me and assess if there is any validity in what is being said. If I find there is no validity, then the insult hits the surface of the dome and falls straight to the ground. If there is some validity, I need to own up to the fact and deal with it at an appropriate time.
For example: Someone is telling me that I am selfish because I won’t give them $100.00. I pull up my dome, reflect, find that I don’t have enough money in my account to spare $100.00, and I let this comment slide to the ground. My next move might be to try to distance myself so that no further negative comments are delivered, or move the conversation to something neutral.
The real work is in distancing myself emotionally from the anger that is being directed to me by the other person. I can act like a sponge soaking up other people’s emotions, or I can work at not absorbing these negative emotions. Distancing is like building a muscle. The more you exercise, the bigger the muscle.
What is the result when I forget to pull up my dome? I usually end up with an emotional hangover that can leave me bogged down and tired. How many of you have experienced emotional hangovers? It takes days for me to recover from those toxic words.
The beauty of the magic dome is that, it won’t cost you a dime. Create your own dome. Make it a superhero shield.
Written by Ramona Winner